Preventing dryer fires

Published On: May 03 2013 12:03:02 PM EDT
Updated On: May 06 2013 05:40:00 AM EDT

More than 15,000 fires are associated with clothes dryers occur in the U.S. annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Many homeowners depend on their clothes dryer to help provide a more convenient method for completing the task of drying their clean clothing. Unfortunately many times residential property owners do not address the necessity for properly maintaining the dryer vent attached to these appliance units.

Angie’s List asked highly rated dryer vent companies to weigh in about cleaning.

Build-up of debris resulting from clothing lint, nesting birds and other materials accumulate over time in the dryer vent causing problems such as reduced air flow to the dryer, backed up dryer exhaust gases and fire hazards.

Signs it’s time to clean:

  • Clothing does not dry completely after a normal drying cycle.
  • Drying time for clothing takes longer than 35 to 40 minutes in duration.
  • A musty odor is noticed in the clothing following the drying cycle.
  • Clothing seems unusually hot to the touch after a complete drying cycle.
  • The dryer vent hood flap does not properly open as it is designed to do during the operation of the dryer.
  • Debris is noticed within the outside dryer vent opening.
  • Excessive heat is noticed within the room in which the dryer is being operated.
  • Large amounts of lint accumulate in the lint trap for the dryer during operation.
  • A visible sign of lint and debris is noticed around the lint filter for the dryer.
  • Excessive odor is noticed from dryer sheets that are used during the drying cycle.

 

Angie’s List Tips: Dryer vent cleaning

  • How much does it cost? Dryer vent cleaning is relatively inexpensive given its benefits. A cleaning typically costs between $100 and $150, depending on the length and location of the vent. In addition to the reduced threat of fire, a cleaning can actually pay for itself in less than a year through the improved efficiency with less drying time required.
  • Hire a pro:  Though there are do-it-yourself vent cleaning kits available, they typically aren’t as effective as the tools used by professionals. One advantage to having an experienced, qualified and reliable professional clean your system is that he or she has likely seen just about every make and model and will likely be able to clean the interior components more efficiently than you will. Plus, you’ll have the assurance that the job was done correctly and safely.
  • Start with an inspection: A qualified company should do an inspection of the dryer vent prior to a cleaning.
  • Licensing requirements: The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that homeowners look for the Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician designation.
  • Annual cleanings: Dryer vents should be cleaned at least once a year to reduce the risk of fires, gas leaks, and operate efficiently.
  • Do not restrict airflow: The transition vent between the dryer and the wall goes INSIDE the pipe leading to the wall. Also, the length for the transition vent should be as short as possible.

 

Angie’s List Tips: Tips to decrease debris

  • Limit the use of dryer sheets used when drying clothing.  Instead of dryer sheets for liquid fabric softener.
  • Only operate clothing dryers for intervals of 30 to 40 minutes per batch of laundry.  This allows more air circulation within the dryer and less lint build up from occurring.
  • When possible hang clothing such as heavy bedding, pillows and other large articles outside to line dry.

 

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