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Robert Lamoureux: Lint could be culprit with dysfunctional dryer

Your Home Improvements

Posted: July 17, 2009 5:13 p.m.
Updated: July 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Editor’s note: Congratulations to Robert Lamoureux for the 100th edition of “Your Home Improvements.” The Signal would like to thank Robert Lamoureux for providing the readers of the SCV with his wisdom and knowledge in his weekly column. As a thank you to readers, Robert, who is also the president of the Magic Castle, would like to offer castle passes to those who stop by his office. To schedule a time to visit the office, e-mail

Dear Robert,

In the big scheme of things, this is a little thing, but our clothing is not drying as fast as it once did.  

As far as I can tell, the dryer is working fine, it’s a gas model, but I understand that there could be a problem with the dryer duct.  

There is hot air coming out of the vent at the very end of the duct, but I don’t know how much was coming out before.  

If there is a problem with the duct, what should I be looking for and what needs to be done to fix it?

Thank you very much if you have the time to respond,

Marcia N.

Hi Marcia,
If your dryer is in good mechanical condition, clothes that take a long time to dry is the first sign that you have problems with the vent.  
This is probably due to lint that is obstructing the line. This is why dryer vents should be cleaned at least once a year.  

Get the equivalent of an electric leaf blower and a shop-vac vacuum. You would start by blowing the line out from the dryer side and vacuuming the lint out from the exhaust side.  

Push the blower and the vacuum hose into the vent as far as possible.  

Since some of the lint may get caught going one direction, you should reverse the procedure and work the other way as well.  

Blow in from the outside and draw from the dryer side.   You want to make sure and clean out as much of that lint as possible. Lint is flammable and it can catch fire inside the vent.  

Remember that you have an open flame inside the dryer.  If that lint backs up and gets inside the dryer, now you have problems.  

During your annual vent cleaning, I would also open up the service panel on the front of the dryer and vacuum it out.

You want to keep the undercarriage of the dryer very clean as well.

I’ve seen dryer vents that run underground.  These have a tendency of filling with ground water which needs to be removed.  

You want to give that hot air as clear a path as possible to vent out of your house.  

If obstruction problems become an on going maintenance issue, then re-route the vent.

Do whatever you have to do to find an alternate path for the exhaust.  

Hey Robert,
I want to repaint my house for the summer.  

I have a large amount of aluminum siding with old wood sash windows – with pine sap all over them.  

(Do you know how to clean sap off of windows?  They are getting all scratched up.)  

I have never painted aluminum before and was wondering if there are any differences I should know about between wood and aluminum.  
Thank you,

Erik B.

Hi Erik,
First of all, go to an auto parts store and get a bottle of bug remover.  Try that on your windows.  That stuff will take sap off of just about anything, lickity-split.  

For the siding, you’ll want to take it down as close to the bare metal as you can.  

Start by sanding and then scraping and get any of the loose or bubbling paint off of there.  

Once scraped, come back with a pressure washer.  Do not use the jet attachment or it will eat right through the aluminum.  

Use a 45 degree nozzle that puts a fan or a wider spray on the surface.  Even with the 45, don’t get too close to the siding.  If you see the metal start to bend or ding, then back it off to a safe distance.  

While you’re at it, I would re-glaze all of your exterior windows.  Take a putty knife and cut out all of the old glazing.  

Put new window spears in to hold the glass, then re-glaze with window glazing putty.  

After that’s dry, your windows are ready to prime and paint.

For the siding, go to your local home improvements store and get primer and paint that is specifically designed for aluminum siding. 

Tell the paint man your approximate square footage and he will calculate the gallons. 

The process is to sand, scrape, prime and paint.  You’ll want to put one good coat of primer and two good coats of paint - or, one heavy coat of paint depending on your budget. Take your time and do it right.  In this heat, it will be a labor of love.

Mr. Home Improvement,
How hard is it to install a phone jack? 

I want to add one in another room.  Sincerely,
Timmy W.

Hi Timmy,

It’s just a matter of matching the color from one jack to the next. 

If you only have one pair connected, I would go ahead and pull a second pair. 

That way if you want to add another line in the future, the wire is already there. 

Then you just have to find the quickest and easiest way to get where you’re going with minimum drywall damage. 

Because there is no code on telephone wires, you can stretch it across your house, it doesn’t matter. 

If you are handy and don’t mind a little drywall repair, then go ahead and do it. 

Otherwise, I’ve seen it run along the carpet line, over door jams, through the attic and every which way. 

Once you land where you want it, tie the two wires where you’re going from where you’ve been. 

Connect them and put the jack in.  That’s it.

Hello Robert,
Do you have any words of advice before I have my property landscaped?  Thank you,
Jan S.

Hi Jan,

Well, there are a few things I would recommend. 

You want to make sure that you have a backflow preventer installed. 

This is a device that prevents against insecticides, fertilizers and other contaminants from your yard entering into your home water supply. 

You want to have a PRV  (pressure relief valve) installed and working to regulate the water pressure inside your home. 

Also, its not only the type of landscaping, but the location of where you plant trees that’s important. 

For example, I would not plant any trees near sidewalks or driveways because the roots can eventually cause damage to the concrete.

And, do not plant trees over your sewer main.  The roots will seek out any moisture at the connections and they will infiltrate your line. 

This can make for an expensive repair, especially if you have to excavate and replace. 

This is one of those repairs you can help prevent by keeping trees away from your sewer line in the first place.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting.
He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal.
Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to


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