Husband cleaned dryer vent into house! Help!

janetg88February 20, 2010

We moved to this house about 6 months ago. As time has gone by, we have notice that our clothes dryer wasn't working very well, so my husband inspected the dryer vent pipe that goes up through the attic and roof. It was packed full of 20 years of lint. He purchased and used vent cleaning brushes to get most of the lint but some still remained in the pipe. So he had the brilliant idea to disconnect the pipe in the attic and use the leaf blower to blow the rest of the stuff out. When he turned the blower on, the resulting cloud of lint and dirt that burst out of the laundry room fogged the entire house so thickly that it caused all of the smoke alarms to go off! The bad news is that I'm terribly allergic to dust mites and mold. Ever since he did this, my allergies have been dastardly -- the glands in my neck are huge, my nose won't unstop or stop running, have a constant headache, etc. I've cleaned through the entire house with a hepa vacuum and sprayed everything or washed everything with hot water and Lysol but it has not helped. Does anyone have any ideas about what I may be reacting to or suggestions on how to clean the house up?

Thanks so much!


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Have you vacuumed your furniture and drapes? Have you aired the house (unless it's too cold where you are). Do you have filters in your heating system? Be sure to change them, and step up to a better filter if possible.

I think it might be wise to check with your doctor as well. S/he might be able to give you an injection or medication to get your allergies to settle down.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 9:57PM
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OMg, and thank God we don't have a leaf blower! My husband has had the lovely task of doing this a number of times, and did have to resort to taking apart the pipes in the attic to get at it. WHAT are builders thinking when they design these pipes that turn and go on forever? (And a few skip the vent entirely, letting lint and mosisture blow into the attic and cause another set of problems.)

Every place we've moved into except for new houses had a packed dryer vent pipe. I seriously don't think hardly anyone ever cleans those things, and once it gets packed it's a dastardly job. Where we live right now, the dryer vents directly to the outside, which is the best way, IMO. Clothes get dry on one low heat cycle, and no clogged vents. If there ever was a clog it could be reached without tools, without ladders, etc.

One thing we found in houses where we had to do this, was that a thin flexible PVC pipe helps break up the clogs of lint without damaging anything, (at least it didn't damage anything when we did it). It has more 'power' than the flexible brush tools on a long wirey handle. I'd say the pipe we used was about half inch diameter, not sure. My husband and I working together did a way better job than even the 'professional' who charged over $100 to do it one time, and left the vent damaged and the thing still partly clogged. IMO there needs to be an adhered to building code for how long, and how many turns, a dryer vent pipe can have. They are fire hazards when not done right, and maintaining them is very, very difficult. I can easily imagine that someone who was physically incaple of doing it would rely on "professionals" who did a lousy job, and have a fire. To me that's unreasonable as "maintenance" and the vents should be more accessible or directly vented outside, period.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 10:29AM
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Yes, we've vacuumed everything in the house with a hepa filtered vaccuum including all fabric and hard surfaces, washed or sprayed every surface with mold killing cleaner, aired the house out by opening all windows and doors for a full day (even though it was 40 degrees outside), and changed the air filters. It's crazy! A dust coating was thick on everything again in just two days.

Every house we've lived in before his vented directly to the outside. This one is the first where we've had to deal with this. Isn't it amazing how much slower the clothes dry? Mine is better now that the clog is gone but not back to where it was it vented directly.

My poor husband feels aweful LOL.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 10:43AM
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I've always wondered if those co's that clean vents/ducts are really all they're cracked up to be. This might be something to check out, a thorough duct cleaning, especially if you've been running your hvac system while all this was going on. The ducts are the last/only thing I have NOT cleaned in a house (so far), but I know from past experience that odors like previous occupants' smoking residue can linger in there. Good luck, I hope you get it all cleaned up.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 2:24PM
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you don't have to worry about mold from it, it is JUST clean clothing scraps. so once you finally get the dust out you should be ok again. dryer lint can be really fine, so it could take a while to settle out. i would run the fan on teh HVAC constantly for a few days and then toss the filter again. this will speed up the removal. the best option would have been to put a fan blowing OUT of a window in teh room nearest the dryer, but too late for that now.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 9:52PM
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Did the fool help you with any of the clean up?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 9:02AM
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Davidandkasie, mold can ABSOLUTLEY grow in dryer vents!!!!!! There is plenty of organic material and moisture in those ducts for mold to flourish. Mold will happily grow on clothing (clean synthetics not so much) and those ducts usually have plenty of cellulose due to clothes being washed with paper in the pockets.

The mold scare has been majorly overblown IMO (and I do plenty of mold remediation) but mold can still be a major problem for some. Not saying this situation is a mold problem.

Janetg88, if you have a central "Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning system with ductwork running through the house, the system likely ingested plenty of dust material. That thick dust coating is probably in your HVAC system and gets redistributed every time you turn on the heat or AC. Which means all your cleaning will likely need to be redone.

Therefore, cleaning the entire HVAC system is my first recommendation and donÂt try it yourself. There are some top notch duct cleaning companies (not Servpro or Servicemaster, sorry franchise guys) that will do a great job at a reasonable price. Once the duct system is cleaned, keep it off and sealed until the entire house is cleaned again.

DonÂt underestimate the amount of work required to fix this. It can take hundreds of man hours depending on the square footage and severity. If all your clothes hanging in the closets and tucked away in drawers were hit with the dust, they will all need to be laundered. Every trinket on every table, picture on the wall, horizontal surface and even some vertical surfaces will need to be cleaned. This may be overkill for most but maybe not if you have severe allergies.

HEPA vacuums and even commercial HEPA air scrubbers are usually mandatory to make sure one cleaning is sufficient. You want to make sure you get the dust out of the home, not just move it around.

Also make sure the cleaning products youÂre using are safe for your sensitivities. For example, using bleach to clean widespread around the house isnÂt good if youÂre sensitive to bleach as it's a very harsh cleaner. DonÂt trade one problem for another.

Finally, unless you hire an industrial hygienist to take samples of the house before and after the cleaning, itÂs difficult to say you solved the problem. Your respiratory system could be irritated for weeks even after the house is clean. You could be having a heightened awareness or have other problems that last even though the house is clean. Your inflamed allergies could be a reaction to the cleaning products youÂre using. This isnÂt an easy situation for those with allergies and I feel for you.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 9:54AM
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I feel for you -- my husband decided to surprise me by cleaning under the fridge. He felt the easiest way to clean under the fridge was to use the leaf blower with a narrow nozzle and blow it out.

Mind you -- I was napping at the time.....

Between the scream of the leaf blower, and the woolly mammoths blowing down the hall and into my bedroom, it was certainly surprising.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2010 at 3:37PM
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No, my foolish husband DID NOT help clean up the mess! LOL And at this point, I'd be afraid to let him -- leaf blower?
After many damp cloth dustings of everything I can get my hands on, I've decided to do as suggested and get the HVAC system, carpets, and fabric furniture cleaned professionally. All of the other fabric like clothes and linens were behind closed doors but after reading the suggestions, I'm going to make a long trip to the laundrymat and get it all washed through.
I'm definitely one of those people allergic to mold . . . allergy testing and years of desensitation shots haven't even begun to stop my reactions.
Sure would have rather bough something fun with all of the $$$ this is going to cost . . HOWEver, my house is going to be company ready when it is all over. Anyone wanna come over for a party?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 7:05AM
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What a mess! Only a man would think of this...
My suggestion is to send YOUR HUSBAND WHO CAUSED THE PROBLEM to the laundromat with all the clothes. Just handling all the clothing fabric will likely further aggravate your allergies. How he can sit and watch you hacking, sneezing, blowing and coughing because of his stupidity without helping is beyond me! Sorry to sound so harsh, but as someone with allergy problems, I feel your pain. And knowing this was caused by a person who refuses to help fix what they caused...speechless!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 11:31AM
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I've done a few less bright things in my life time. However, using a leaf blower in the house is not one of them.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 8:50AM
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Hey give the poor guy a break, it could have been a gas powered blower. The thought of getting something instantly clean with big power compared to other techniques that seem timely tedious and boring far outweigh common sense to consider the mess that the act of cleaning is about to make.

This reminds me of the guy that gets his first air compressor and thinks... wow the heck with that broom.. I am going to blow the garage out. It is amazing how clean you can get the floor and how quickly... but the level of dirt and dust on everything else is mind blowing. Oh and after an hour that super clean floor has a nicely settled new coat of dirt settled on it.

Women are not immune to this either. I have seen some similar scenerios, but I will be first to admit... its not as common.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 12:40AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil

So sorry to hear about this Janet. I hope it clears up - it's gotta! The source is finite...

On a related note, I love the Dryer Vent Diverter with its own built-in fine filter, which harvests heat and humidity in the dry cold Midwest winters. Use those btu's twice, while reducing flow to the outside, thus delaying the formation of dust-pluggage.

BTW thanks for the man-hatin' comments folks. Gee, how long would it have taken if dear husband hadn't gone up there to do it in the first place? Poor Janet (allergic to dust, remember?) would still be sitting there. At least he tried, and hopefully learned. I won't bother going into the less-than-optimal ideas my wife has undertaken over the years. No one is immune to doing something dumb, and besides, I'm not that kind of guy. So there. PPPPPPbbbtttthh!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2010 at 1:58PM
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If everything has been washed, vacuumed, and basically cleaned from top to bottom, it may just be the fact that we are going into Spring and the mold and pollen count is up. And it is worse this year due to all of the snow that we have had. The trees, grass and flowers have been insulated and are producing more this year.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 8:15AM
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Reading about leaf blowers made me think about power washers... DH made squiggley lines in the house paint with one of those.

And cleaning under the fridge? DH pulled it out, decided something was loose and put a screw in it. Come to find out, it was supposed to be loose. When he slid it back, it took a plug out of the vinyl floor covering.

Now there is a way to repair vinyl floor covering. Cutting a round piece and glueing it in, is not the right way. *sigh*

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 6:45PM
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Another DH flub

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 6:26PM
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as a DH myself I can only say that I like the idea

1)I'll Make sure I blow in the other direction

2) She's got the cleanest / safest dryer vent on the block.

....and still they complain...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 12:13PM
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