Wayne’s Service Tips

Wayne’s Service Tips

Dryer Duct Cleaning
by Wayne Tracy

wayneThe Consumer Products Safety Commission states that “Clothes dryers are associated with over 15,600 fires annually, resulting in 20 deaths and 370 injures”.  These fires caused over One Hundred Million Dollars in damage. 

Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint is highly combustible and can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire.  Most dryer duct lines run between the walls and floors of a home and this fire can quickly spread through the rest of the home.  Even though dryers have built in high temperature limit switches they often fail and cannot be relied on to provide total protection.

Although clothes dryers have a lint trap, a significant amount of lint bypasses the trap and finds its way into the dryer and the dryer vent duct.  In as little as a year this lint can accumulate to levels that can significantly block the flow of air through the dryer and dryer duct. When you add the warm moist air being discharged into the dryer duct this further helps the lint to start plugging the dryer duct.

Plugged or partially plugged dryer vents can also result in increased operating costs with longer drying times.  This will also cause premature failure of components or the dryer.  Overheating can also cause unnecessary wear and tear on clothing, thus shorting their life.

In a recent independent study it was found that a load of 7 large bath towels in a dryer with 62.5% vent restriction took 60% more time to dry the same size load and used 77% more energy than the load without the restricted vent.

The following are steps the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends Homeowners should take to prevent dryer vent fires.

  • Clean the Lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.  If clothing is still damp when removed after a normal dryer cycle or requires a much longer than normal dryer cycle, this may be a sign the dryer vent needs cleaning.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct (hose connected to the dryer) periodically.  While the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives no recommendation as to cleaning frequency, most manufacturers recommend annual cleaning for the dryer to work at maximum efficiency. 
  • Check and clean the outside dryer vent exhaust for obstructions and make sure the flapper opens and closes properly.  If the flapper is not fully closing, birds and rodents can nest in the dryer vent line.
  • Clean behind and around the dryer where lint can build up.  Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of lint and clutter.
  • Replace old style flexible plastic/vinyl hose with corrugated or foil hose.  The plastic/vinyl hose is no longer allowed in most states and is not fireproof and can actually cause a fire to start and spread quicker.
  • The interior of  the dryer chassis should be cleaned by a qualified service person periodically.  Lint and debris will build up inside the dryer as well as in the dryer duct.

Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint is highly combustible and can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire.  Most dryer duct lines run between the walls and floors of a home and this fire can quickly spread through the rest of the home.  Even though dryers have built in high temperature limit switches they often fail and cannot be relied on to provide total protection.

Although clothes dryers have a lint trap, a significant amount of lint bypasses the trap and finds its way into the dryer and the dryer vent duct.  In as little as a year this lint can accumulate to levels that can significantly block the flow of air through the dryer and dryer duct. When you add the warm moist air being discharged into the dryer duct this further helps the lint to start plugging the dryer duct.

Plugged or partially plugged dryer vents can also result in increased operating costs with longer drying times.  This will also cause premature failure of components or the dryer.  Overheating can also cause unnecessary wear and tear on clothing, thus shorting their life.

In a recent independent study it was found that a load of 7 large bath towels in a dryer with 62.5% vent restriction took 60% more time to dry the same size load and used 77% more energy than the load without the restricted vent.

The following are steps the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends Homeowners should take to prevent dryer vent fires.

  • Clean the Lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes.  If clothing is still damp when removed after a normal dryer cycle or requires a much longer than normal dryer cycle, this may be a sign the dryer vent needs cleaning.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct (hose connected to the dryer) periodically.  While the Consumer Product Safety Commission gives no recommendation as to cleaning frequency, most manufacturers recommend annual cleaning for the dryer to work at maximum efficiency.
  • Check and clean the outside dryer vent exhaust for obstructions and make sure the flapper opens and closes properly.  If the flapper is not fully closing, birds and rodents can nest in the dryer vent line.
  • Clean behind and around the dryer where lint can build up.  Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of lint and clutter.
  • Replace old style flexible plastic/vinyl hose with corrugated or foil hose.  The plastic/vinyl hose is no longer allowed in most states and is not fireproof and can actually cause a fire to start and spread quicker.
  • The interior of  the dryer chassis should be cleaned by a qualified service person periodically.  Lint and debris will build up inside the dryer as well as in the dryer duct.
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