I recently replaced my foil dryer vent hose with a semi-rigid metal one. Since I already had to monkey around with the dryer vent (something I hate doing), I figured I would take the opportunity to clean out my duct system. In case you didn't know this already, dryer fires are a leading cause of house fires, and if your dryer vent system isn't efficiently venting your dryer, the dryer can overheat, start a fire, and ignite lint in the system. Such a disaster will almost certainly lead to your house burning down. (Check out this video on just how easily your house can go up in flames from a dryer fire.)
When it comes to cleaning your dryer ventilation system, you have a couple of different options. You can pay someone a couple of hundred dollars to do it professionally or you can do it yourself (and get equal or better results) for about 50 dollars. I chose to do it myself, and after quite a bit of research on the methods available, I chose the Gardus LintEater cleaning system. As you'll see in this review, the Gardus LintEater system is a great choice.
The LintEater System
There are a few different LintEater systems available, but I chose the D1203615 system because it uses threaded rods that are much less likely to come apart inside my vent system. Each rod is 3-feet in length and the system comes with 4 rods, so you can use it to clean 12-feet of ventilation duct. If you need additional rods (I did), you can purchase an extension kit that adds an additional 12-feet. (The links in this review link to a complete system that includes the extension kit. You can save money by purchasing the system and the extension kit as a single unit.)
Using the LintEater system is easy. The system includes clear instructions complete with photographs (and YouTube videos as well), but in a nutshell, you attach the cleaning brush to the end of one rod and insert the other end of the rod into your electric drill. While running the drill, slowly word the rod into your duct system. When you have inserted the first rod as far as it will go, disconnect the drill, screw on a second rod, and attach the drill to the end of the two connected rods. (You should wrap some electrical tap around the rod connection point as a precaution to make sure that the rods don't accidentally unscrew.) Continue this process until you have used enough rods to reach through your entire duct system.
Once you've reached the end of your duct system, work the brush up and down as you remove the rods, continuing to run the drill only in a clockwise direction as you remove the rods. (If you reverse the drill, the rods will unscrew inside of your duct system and will likely get stuck inside.) The LintEater system includes a vacuum attachment so that you can use your shop-vac to suck out all of the lint that the system cleans out. I strongly advise you to use the vacuum system to get your duct work as clean as possible.
Here are some of my hints after using the LintEater system to clean out my vent system.
There are two methods you can use with the LintEater system. First is to use two pairs of pliers and tighten the rods as you attach them together during cleaning. The second is to hand-tighten the rods and use tape to prevent them from unscrewing. I found the tape method to work best. I wrapped each rod connection with electrical tape.
Clean from Inside and Outside
I started by cleaning my duct system from inside of the house. After I finished, I cleaned it again from the other end. I was shocked at how much lint I got out of my system using this method, and I took pictures to show you that the LintEater system really does work!
I have to tell you that when I started this process, I figured I wouldn't get much lint out of our ducts because everything looked clean from the inside. As you can see, I couldn't have been more wrong!
Test for Airflow
There are instructions included with the LintEater system that describe how you can check for airflow. I strongly encourage you to take the time to do this. It's not uncommon for duct work to be completely clogged, and if it is, simply using the LintEater brush won't completely clean out the system. The LintEater system includes an attachment that can be used to clear clogs, so even if your system is completely clogged, you can still clean it out completely. (By the way, LintEater works with rigid ducts, foil ducts, and plastic ducts. If you have one of the latter two, it's highly recommended that you replace your ducts with rigid or semi-rigid duct work.)
It's uncommon to find a quality product that works exactly as advertised. The Gardus LintEater system is exactly that. It works flawlessly and you'll be astonished at how much lint is lining the walls of your dryer duct work. It's recommended that you clean your ducts at least once per year, and you'll be glad to know that the LintEater system's top-quality construction will make it possible for you to do so easily year after year. I give this system my highest recommendation!