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HOME IMPROVEMENT

Cleaning Ducts, Vents Conserves Costly Fuel

August 30, 1987|Dale Baldwin

It has come to my attention that many owners of income property are reading this column. That's fine by me. It's designed to provide local sources for local problems, unlike the generic home improvement columns that cross my desk daily.

From time to time, I'll do a column--or part of one--that may contain home improvement and maintenance aspects for owners and/or residents of small apartment buildings.

I welcome suggestions on column topics.

Mark Lichterman spends much of his time on the roofs of coin-operated laundries and apartment buildings, in good weather and bad, cleaning out clogged clothes dryer ducts. He uses a 40-foot flexible shaft powered by an electric drill, with a combination of a string trimmer and a plumbing snake at the business end.

"Lint screens trap about 80% of the lint generated in drying clothes, but that other 20%, over a period of years, can drive up the both the maintenance and utility costs of running the dryer," he explained as he prepared to clean a duct protruding from the roof of a laundry in North Hollywood.

"As the lint buildup reduces the size of the duct opening, motors work harder and more gas is consumed."

Multistory laundry rooms in condominiums and apartment buildings are a special problem, thanks to the twists and turns the ducts often take, Lichterman said. His "lint rooter," as he calls his Rube Goldberg-like device, performs a task that no amount of vacuum can accomplish.

Lichterman claims that his firm, Laundry Duct Cleaning Service, 22704 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills 91364, is the only service of its kind in Southern California. If there are any others out there, drop me a line. Frankly, I can't think of a worse way to make a living, with all the dust!

What about the ducts for dryers in a typical house? No problem for most houses, because the duct is typically short, running straight outside, Lichterman said.

"Just make sure you clean out the lint filter after every use and visually check the ducts from time to time," he said.

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