Welcome to A Greener Life. Here you will find the Fixie Chick's tips for living a healthier, environmentally friendly lifestyle. Don't worry, you don't have to ride your bike to work to make a difference. Plus you will find easy tips and great ideas on how to make a big impact on the environment without making a huge change in lifestyle.
Each time I venture out to my garden bench, I inadvertently pass my dryer vent exhaust.
The cracked hood surrounded by moss and mold covered caulk and rusted screws never fails to catch my attention. Knowing that hot and cold air must be escaping through that hole has put this home repair on the top of my fall to-do list.
What originally began as an aesthetic and energy saving fifteen-dollar-fix, has turned into a little research and a lot of shocking statistics! The USFA (United States Fire Administration), released a report regarding residential building clothes dryer fires. Between the years 2002-2004, an annual average of 12,700 clothes dryer fires occurred in residential buildings. These fires were responsible for an estimated 15 civilian fire deaths, 300 civilian fire injuries, and $88 million in property loss each year.
According to this report:
Clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually.
Eighty percent of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings.
Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.
“Failure to clean” is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from outside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.
A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes dried by the moving hot air. Lint is created from the clothes as the water is removed and the clothes dry. While much of the lint is trapped by the dryer’s filter, it is also carried through the venting system, with the moist air. The accumulation of lint, both in the dryer and in the dryer vent, reduces the airflow and creates a highly flammable fuel source.
In addition to the accumulation of lint, blockage in dryer exhaust vents also occurs from the nests of small birds and animals or from bends in the venting system itself. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly to the outside and overheating is a common result; when enough heat is produced to ignite the lint or nearby items, a fire can occur.
Proper maintenance for clothes dryers involves removing the lint from the traps, vents, and surrounding areas of the dryer. Not unexpectedly, the leading factor contributing to ignition for dryer fires is operation deficiencies, specifically “failure to clean.”
Though dryer fire prevention is important no matter where you do your laundry, here’s an even more important reason to pay attention to this report:
New construction trends now situate washers and dryers in nontraditional areas of the house, such as upstairs bedrooms, hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, and closets. These new sites generally require longer dryer vents in order to reach an outside wall. These routes contain sharp turns and bends that navigate through the structure of the home. When lint has to pass through an exhaust that is under a floor or through walls and is more than 6-feet long, it is almost impossible to propel all the lint out of the vent. As a result, lint can accumulate in pockets along the vent where they are harder to reach and clean. Thus, it is crucial for homeowners to also regularly inspect and clean out the dryer vent.
All manufacturers now state in their manuals not to use plastic flexible dryer ducts between the vent and the clothes dryer. The plastic itself can provide additional fuel for a fire.
If you notice heavy clothes such as blue jeans or towels taking a long time to dry, or clothes feel hotter than usual at the end of the cycle, then a clogged dryer vent exhaust is likely the problem.
Keep fire extinguishers and working smoke alarms near the clothes dryer.
As a good fire safety practice, combustibles such as clothing, boxes, and other items should not be placed near or around the clothes dryer.
If you do not feel comfortable cleaning or inspecting the dryer vent yourself, you can call a duct cleaning service. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a nonprofit educational organization, also provides information on clothes dryer fires and can provide a list of CSIA-certified dryer exhaust duct technicians.
Exhaust should vent directly outside the house.