The link between dryer safety and proper dryer ventilation becomes clear almost 3,000 times each year. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, that’s the average number of dryer fires that occur in this country every year. These fires cause about $35 million in property losses and about five deaths annually.
Clothes dryers bring together two potentially dangerous ingredients: high temperatures and extremely flammable lint shed by clothes during the drying process. Adequate dryer ventilation is a major factor in controlling both heat and lint accumulation. Here are some things to know to ensure maximum dryer safety:
Always clean the lint trap before each dryer cycle.
A clogged lint trap obstructs proper ventilation, causing internal dryer temperatures to soar and increasing the risk of a dryer fire.
Regularly check dryer vent function.
While the dryer is running, go outside to the opening in the exterior wall where the dryer vent pipe terminates. Feel the air exhausting from the vent pipe. If you don’t feel a strong flow of hot air, an obstruction may be forming in the vent pipe. This could be excess lint accumulation or a pipe that has collapsed. Both pose a serious household fire hazard. Turn off the dryer and call professional service.
Current standards for dryer vents require metal pipes with smooth interior surface to minimize lint accumulation. Ribbed plastic flex pipe that was commonly used to vent dryers in the past is now considered a fire hazard due to flammability and should be replaced with metal pipe that meets the Underwriters Laboratories UL 2158 standard.
A dryer vent pipe should extend through the nearest exterior wall and discharge into outside air. Pipe length should not exceed 25 feet. The vent pipe should never exhaust into the attic, crawl space or elsewhere.
Don’t leave the house or go to bed while drying clothes.
Most dryer vents are inaccessible for do-it-yourself inspection. Get an inspection and cleaning every two years or so by a professional vent cleaning service.
For more about the importance of proper dryer ventilation to prevent fires, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Brownsburg, Indiana and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).