We lead busy, rushed lives and often assume our modern day appliances can keep up with us. The refrigerator and freezer maintain the freshness in our food, the oven bakes us delectable dinners, and the washer and dryer have perfected the process of cleaning clothes. While these appliances seem able to work exhaustively to meet our needs, they have needs of their own and require regular maintenance to work correctly. Sometimes, this regular maintenance may be able to save your life.
Most people believe that cleaning out the lint trap in the dryer will prevent any lint fires. Although doing this decreases the risk of fire, the risk is very real and still very possible. You see the lint collect in your dryer’s lint trap, but it also gathers in the dryer vent that pushes the hot air out of the house. As time passes, this pipe assembles quite a collection of lint, dust, fibers and other debris – maybe even small animals. As this collection continues to build up, the risk of fire does as well. Lint ignites very easily and any obstruction in the vent results in heat from the dryer accumulating, which means the lint and other debris could catch on fire.
Between 2008 and 2010, the U.S. Fire Administration gathered reports stating that an average of 2,900 residential lint fires occurred every year across the country. Each fire caused an average of almost $10,000 in property harm. Fortunately, most of these reported fires remained confined to the dryer. However, if they spread past the floor of origin, the damages exceeded costs of $50,000. Nearly half of the fires could have been avoided by appropriate use and maintenance of the dryer and most of them started with the ignition of lint.
In order to fall victim to these unnerving statistics, you will need to do more than clean out your lint trap. Lint collects in every part of the dryer vent, but it particularly clings to any damaged or protruding areas and to any severe bends. The longer the vent is, the more space for lint to gather and create a fire hazard. The longest recommended vent length is 35 feet, but this is often unrealistic, especially in newer homes with laundry units installed closer to the center of the home.
Experts advise having a professional clean and inspect your dryer vent at least once every year. This service will involve fully emptying out the dryer vent and removing all lint. In addition, the serviceperson will inspect the vent to ensure it has no damage, obstructions, or tight bends that would all increase the risk of a fire. The service may recommend installing a new vent from time to time, which is completely normal. On the outside, the serviceperson will check to make sure the vent opens properly to the outside and that no animals have nested inside to obstruct the opening.
If you live in the Arlington or Fairfax, Virginia area or in Washington D.C., call Winston’s Chimney Service for a professional dryer vent cleaning consultation. This call could just save your home and your life.