Clothes Dryer Vent Safety Tips
A house fire is every homeowner’s worst nightmare because of the amount of destruction they cause which makes it important to always check your home for fire hazards. Dryers and washing machines were responsible for one out of 22 house fires that occurred between 2006 and 2010 according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), most of which were dryer vent fires. In fact, the dryer was responsible for 92% of these fires and the main cause was failure to clean out the lint trap and dryer vent. It is important for homeowners to routinely check the dryer vent and these dryer vent cleaning and safety tips will help you keep your dryer functioning properly to help prevent house fires.
Importance of Dryer Vent Cleaning
When the dryer vent is clean and allowed to function properly, excess heat, moisture, and carbon monoxide from the dryer are safely exhausted outside the house. If the vent is clogged or not venting properly, the excess heat and moisture can spill out into your home which causes the dryer to work harder and increases the risk of house fires and property damage. Homeowners should always watch out for signs that the dryer vent needs cleaning such as longer drying times and excess lint around the dryer.
Warning Signs of Lint Buildup in the Dryer Vent
- Longer drying time
- Takes multiple cycles for clothes to fully dry
- The drying temperature is higher than normal
- Low exhaust velocity from the outside dryer vent
- Area around the dryer is humid
- Burnt smell coming from the dryer
Dryer Vent Cleaning and Safety Tips for Preventing House Fires
Dryer Venting Materials
Proper venting is crucial for preventing dryer vent fires so it is important to check the dryer venting and ductwork to ensure that the equipment meets industry safety standards. The industry safety standard is Underwriters Laboratories UL 2158 for electric dryers and ANSI Z21.5.1 (CGA 7.1) for gas dryers which require semi-rigid metal vent pipes for both types. If your dryer is venting with white plastic hoses, replace them with metal vent pipes that meet UL 2158 standards. The white plastic hoses are combustible and can start a fire if they are not venting properly.
The lint that builds up in the dryer vent and exhaust duct greatly increases the risk of a dryer vent fire which is why it must be cleaned regularly.
- Start by checking the outside dryer vent as the dryer is running to make sure the air is venting properly.
- If the exhaust is coming out weakly, then the dryer vent or exhaust is clogged.
- Disconnect the ducting from the dryer and check for and remove any blockage from the path.
- Carefully reconnect the ducting and outside dryer vent before using the dryer.
- Make sure to clean out the lint trap with every use.
Clean Around the Dryer and Dryer Vent
Lint from the dryer not only accumulates in the lint trap and dryer vent, but also behind and underneath the dryer. The heat from the dryer can cause house fires by igniting the lint so it is important to clean the lint around the dryer and keep the area free of clutter and debris.
How much does dryer vent cleaning cost?
The dryer vent is one of the leading causes of house fires but by following these dryer vent safety tips, you can keep your dryer vent clean to help prevent house fires. If dryer vent cleaning and maintenance is not done regularly, the dryer could exhaust inside the house and cause a fire by igniting the lint. Proper dryer vent cleaning will greatly reduce the risk of a fire but if any damage should occur from a fire or an overheated dryer, contact a fire damage restoration professional to repair the damage.