Preventing Dryer Fires from Angies LIst

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, the nation's leading provider of consumer
reviews
, 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.