Each year, 15,000 fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries are attributed directly
to dryer vent fires by the U.S. Fire Administration. That's a staggering
statistic that doesn't have to happen. Failure to clean the lint from the
dryer vent is the leading factor in clothes dryer fires. All too often there are
news reports of a homeowner turning on the dryer, leaving home to shop
or go to work, only to return to find that their home has suffered from
fire damage. Fortunately this issue is preventable. The dryer vent experts
share the warning signs that could indicate that you could have a vent
that needs to be cleaned.
How long does your dryer take to dry a load of clothes? It should take
less than one cycle. Many people are accustomed to using multiple cycles
to dry a load of clothes. Oftentimes people mistakenly attribute the longer
drying times to aging dryers.
In reality the real culprit is almost always the dryer vent. And just to
be clear, we're not talking about the lint screen that should be cleaned
of lint after every load. The lint screen only captures about 25% of the
lint expelled by the dryer. It is the dryer vent itself that starts behind
the wall and eventually makes its way to the outside, usually through
the roof or an exterior wall. Over time, lint starts to accumulate on
the inside of the dryer vent and the lint continues to build up until
the vent becomes clogged.
The result is that the dryer has to run much longer than normal and thus
a substantial amount of energy is wasted, on average costing the typical
household an extra $240 in utility costs annually. Typically all that
is needed to resolve the problem is to have the dryer vent cleaned. Often
many of our customers state how grateful they are that they did not have
to buy a new dryer and how thrilled they are that they can dry a load
of clothes in 25 minutes instead of 2 hours.
Sometimes merely cleaning the dryer vent is not enough however. It may
make more sense to re-route or replace it. Building code stipulates that
most residential dryer vents cannot exceed 15' in length while making
no more than two turns. Our professional technicians see dryer vents every
day that are far longer and make many more turns. Such dryer vents are
truly designed to fail and place the homeowners at considerable risk of a fire.
Leading appliance manufacturers recommend annual dryer vent inspections
and cleanings to ensure that your system is in proper working order. In
addition, your dryer can provide you with warning signs of excess lint
or other problems. Paying attention to these warning signs can save you
time and money, and may prevent a devastating dryer fire.
Common Warning Signs of Dryer Vent Clogs
Dryer Vent Don’ts
Many times during dryer vent cleaning appointments, the professional technicians
often see a variety of issues with your dryer vent that can cause problems.
To help keep you safer we’ve compiled a list of “Dryer Vent
Don’ts” and can assist you in correcting any problems with
your dryer vent system.
DO NOT use vinyl, or slinky foil materials for dryer vents.
- Dryer vents made from flexible plastic or foil can be easily kinked or
crushed, restricting airflow. The ridges in vinyl and slinky materials
can also catch excess lint, creating an increased fire risk. If a dryer
fire should occur, these materials quickly spread the fire.
- Static in plastic venting causes lint to stick to the inside of the vent
walls, which can mix with the expelled water during a typical dry cycle,
creating sludge and an increased risk of a fire.
DO NOT use duct tape to connect venting materials.
- The adhesive dries out over time, especially due to temperature changes,
creating gaps in the joints of the vent.
DO NOT use screws or bolts to secure joints.
- Screws and bolts act as lint collectors inside the vent wall and create
an increased fire risk.
DO NOT terminate dryer vents in crawlspaces or attics.
- Dryer vents that terminate in crawlspaces or attics allow for moisture
to deposit, and encourage mold growth and health hazards. Dryer vents
must terminate to the outside of the building.
DO NOT use cages or screens to prevent pests from entering.
- The use of pest cages or screens can allow lint to build up, creating a
fire hazard and reducing the dryer's efficiency.
Dryer Vent Cleaning Benefits
For peace of mind, have your dryer vent professionally inspected, cleaned,
and repaired or re-routed if necessary.