Shared Knowledge

"How to: Clean Clothes Dryer Vent Pipe"


Summary: some dryers will shut off prematurely if dryer vent pipe is clogged with lint. Cleaning dryer vent pipe can be do-it-yourself (DIY) but depends on configuration of your dryer vent pipe.



Maytag Neptune electric clothes dryer shutting down prematurely using any setting.

No error codes displayed.

Determined that dryer vent pipe clogged with lint causing problem.

Note that in my case, dryer vent pipe had not been "cleaned" in 20+ years!!


Dryer vent pipe configuration:

Must be as many dryer vent pipe configurations as there are dryers in the United States!!

Clothes dryer vent pipe - One configuration of many possible


In my case, a horizontal-to-vertical elbow is used to route dryer air from the back of the dryer to an aluminum flex hose.

The aluminum flex hose then extends up wall to where it mates up with an aluminum pipe elbow.


Clothes dryer vent pipe - Shows how flex hose attached to back of dryer


Clothes dryer vent pipe - Shows flexible dryer hose going from dryer to alumnimum pipe elbow in ceiling

clothes dryer vent pipe - Shows flexible hose from dryer attaching to aluminum pipe elbow sticking out of ceiling


At the aluminum elbow sticking out of the ceiling, dryer air goes horizontally through a 4inch diameter aluminum pipe about 8 feet to where the pipe penetrates the brick outside wall.

Where the dryer vent pipe extends beyond the outside brick wall, the pipe is covered by a dryer vent cap.

The dryer vent cap is nothing more than a cheap aluminum piece in the shape of a triangle with a movable flap over the vent pipe hole.

The dryer vent cap is fixed to the outside brick of my house.


Tools needed:

Depending on how clogged your dryer vent really is...

New dryer to vent hose connection.

New non-plastic dryer vent hose.

Shop vacuum.

Adjustable painting pole. Adjustable length depends on amount of vent pipe buried in ceiling, floor, etc.

New outside dryer vent discharge cover.

And depending on the configuration of your dryer vent, perhaps a dryer vent pipe cleaning kit like the one pictured below.

Dryer vent pipe cleaning kits are sold at all big box home repair stores.

Clothes dryer vent pipe cleaning - Shows available vent pipe cleaning kit


Dryer vent hose cleaning:

In my case, dryer vent hose (flexible aluminum) connects to rear of dryer and then immediately turns and goes vertical for 6 feet where it turns again back to horizontal (inside ceiling) and goes for 6 feet or so to an outside wall vent. 

Cleaned vertical flexible metal hose by simply banging my hand on it and then vacuuming all the lint that feel out.

Reconnected flex hose to back of dryer and turned dryer on but this time, just air fluff for 40 minutes.

Went outside to outside dryer vent and discover it had significant lint buildup.

Wearing a mask, as dryer still venting air although not heated, cleaned by hand, lint around dryer vent hole.

Went inside and started dryer but this time with heat.

Again, dryer shut off prematurely!??

Back outside where I removed dry vent hole cover. (Yes, attached to brick wall with a single screw set into plastic hollow wall).

Dryer vent pipe that runs through ceiling is 4inch diameter aluminum.

Reached inside pipe with hand but limited lint.

Got shop vacuum and ensuring all shop vacuum hose pieces securely fastened together, inserted shop vacuum hose into vent pipe and turned on vacuum.

Lint, dirt, ??, began to blow out of vent pipe.

Move shop vacuum hose around inside pipe, back and forth and lint continued to be blown out of vent pipe.

Went inside and shut down dryer.

Back outside and again inserted shop vacuum pipe into vent pipe and turned on vacuum.

This time significant lint sucked up into vacuum.

Again, started clothes dryer on air fluff setting.

Using an adjustable length painting pole I had, adjusted pole 7 feet for so and inserted into vent pipe hole and began moving pole around inside vent pipe.

With dryer blowing air, significant lint blew out of vent pipe.

Continued to bang painting pole around inside of vent pipe as dryer blew ambient air until air coming out of vent pile was more or less clear of dust or lint.

Back inside.

Remove vent pipe from back of dryer and shake out again again and still more lint!

Finally, reconnected vent pipe to back of dryer and turned on for timed dry of 40 minutes.

Dryer rain for full time.

Repeated with another timed dry setting and again completed defined time period.



Yes, absolutely, an electric clothes dryer will shut itself down if there is too much lint in the dryer vent pipe.

Use dryer to help push lint out of vent pipe. I.E. run dryer in no-heat mode.

Somehow, clean out hidden vent pipe. In may case, a long pole inserted in horizontal vent pipe did the trick but you might have a vertical vent pipe and have to use a cleaning kit.



Ron - Shared Knowledge Home