Commercial dryer vent cleaning refers to the cleaning of dryer vents in businesses or multi-unit dwellings (condos, apartments, etc) as opposed to single-family homes. What's referred to as the dryer vent (or more appropriately, the dryer duct or vent line) runs from the back of the clothes dryer itself to the outside, exhausting the warm, moist air produced by your dryer. In the process, small bits of lint that slough off your laundry are also exhausted. Lint is extremely combustible and cannot be permitted to build up inside the dryer duct, as it is an extreme fire hazard. The process of dryer vent cleaning removes the lint buildup from the entirety of this duct and renders the machine more efficient and, more importantly, it eliminates the associated fire hazard.
The above photo was taken at an apartment building in Chaska before the dryer vent was cleaned. It can be assumed that when lint is hanging off of the outside vent (and had to travel a good distance to get there) that there is a buildup of lint inside the vent line and cleaning is needed. Of course, a dirty dryer vent line will not always result in lint hanging from or stuck to the outside vent, so it should never be assumed that if lint is not visible on the outside, it is not present on the inside.
What is the difference between residential and commercial dryer vent cleaning?
Typically, in a commercial setting—that is, in multi-unit dwellings--the dryer is located more toward the interior of the building and not as close to a wall, through which the vent will finally exhaust. This means that in most cases, the run is longer—sometimes 35 to 50 feet in length--than in a single-family home, and it also contains more twists and turns than those that vent in a straight shot through the wall to the outside. In many cases, dryers in multi-unit dwellings vent onto the roof. All of this means that the process for cleaning the vent line is more complex and the need more frequent than in a residential setting.
How are commercial dryer vents cleaned?
In apartment buildings and condominiums, it is rare that any dryer vent lines are shared; typically each unit has its own dryer and dryer vent line, which exhausts somewhere out the side or roof of the building. In some cases, the first and subsequent floors vent out the side of the building, and the top floor vents to the roof. In other cases all dryers vent to the roof.
Regardless, the process for cleaning them is similar. The technician positions himself where the dryer exhausts (using a lift to reach the higher floors). He inserts a cleaning tool attached to a high-pressured air line into the vent and feeds it down the vent line, as far as it goes, until it reaches the back of the machine itself. When the tool (a reverse-blowing spinning air ball") is engaged, it spins around and spits out air through tiny holes in the metal ball. As the technician slowly extracts the tool, the lint is blown out with it (quite forcefully; most technicians wear face masks). The technician repeats the process if necessary until he has confirmed good air flow from the vent. Importantly, the technician will also remove any screening that is in place over the dryer vent, as this is a violation of code and additionally a fire hazard.
How often should commercial dryer vents be cleaned?
Typically dryer vents in multi-unit dwellings such as apartments and condominiums should be cleaned yearly. Most properties of this nature have an ongoing yearly contract for service with an HVAC cleaning company.
Estimates can be provided for the cost to clean all vents in a building in a single service, and prices vary depending on how many units to be cleaned, how many stories in the building, how long the dryer vent lines run, and where the dryers exhaust. Obviously, the more units, the higher the total price (though the cost per unit tends to decline as the number of units increases). Higher floors would necessitate the rental of a lift, which would also contribute to the estimate total.
Reputable commercial dryer vent cleaners are equipped and experienced to handle properties of all sizes and configurations, and yearly contracts establish consistency and predictability with the project, making planning easier on property management companies—and dryers safer and more efficient for tenants.
Wanna dig deeper? Our commercial dryer vent cleaning page contains detailed descriptions, before and after photos, and videos of our commercial dryer vent cleaning processes.
View Commercial Dryer Vent Cleaning Page
Many thanks to our commercial project manager Ben S for lending his expertise to this article.