When I started writing this blog post, I figured it would be another easy-peasy get-around-to-it home maintenance post. Most of our home maintenance tips don’t concern life-threatening situations (other than changing fire alarm batteries). You could go years without cleaning out closets or shining silver, and many of us do; and as worthwhile and satisfying as these tasks are, they aren’t on the safety and health level as the information I’m giving you here.
This post really is very important, and could affect your health and safety in a major way. I’m talking about cleaning out dryer vents. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 17,000 dryer vent fires occur annually. Fifteen deaths per year are attributed to dryer vent fires. These devastations that destroy many homes—amounting to millions of dollars in damages— are easily prevented, and there are many professional service providers who can clean and check dryer vents to ensure your safety.
- Check your vent hoses. Ventilation technology has improved significantly even in the last few years. Previously accepted vents, like flexible piping, or foil tubing are no longer considered code. Foil tubing is easily smashed, limiting airflow. The best ventilation system is a smooth metal tube, straight and inflexible, fastened with heat resistant tape, not screws that protrude into the inside of the tube and trap lint and material.
- Check your covers. Animals, birds and their nesting materials are often found during vent cleaning checkups. There are safety covers for external vent outlets to keep critters out.
Lint is flammable. Lint accumulates from clothing fibers and dryer softening sheets, and catches fire from the dryer’s heat when the heat and lint cannot escape properly.
- Improve efficiency. Older does not necessarily mean ‘replace.’ Older dryers do tend to take longer to dry clothes, leave clothes smelling musty, or extremely hot to the touch at the end of a cycle. This is not necessarily ‘normal.’ It simply may mean that your dryer’s vents are clogged. Clean them out inexpensively to add years of great service to an older dryer. Remember to change old ventilation tubing while you’re at it. Other signs of ventilation problems can be knocking and creaking noises.
- Other safety concerns. Improper ventilation can cause mold problems, mildew and allergies. Gas dryers must be properly ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Other tips and suggestions. In the summer why not hang a clothesline? There’s something homey and fun about hanging clothes up outside. Save money and energy, wear and tear on clothing and your dryer by hanging them on an inexpensive line you can buy at most drugstores.