I frequently see dryer exhaust ducts that are blocked with lint during inspections. Many times I encounter this while I’m inspecting the roof – and find the wire screen on the gooseneck completely clogged. This type of lint build-up blocks air flow and can cause excessive heat to build up which results in fires in some dryers. The CPSC estimated in 1998 that clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires that resulted in 20 deaths and 370 injuries. To help prevent fires the following actions can be taken:
- Clean the lint screen/filter before or after each load of clothes – If you find that your clothes are still damp or take longer than normal to dry it may be an indication the exhaust filter or duct has become clogged with lint.
- Replace flexible foil exhaust duct with rigid or semi-rigid metal duct – Many dryer manufacturers specify the use of rigid or semi-rigid corrugated metal duct. This duct provides maximum air flow and is less susceptible to kinks or crushing that often happens with flexible or foil type exhaust ducts.
- Clean behind the dryer where lint can often build-up – It is important to have a qualified professional clean the interior chassis of your dryer periodically to minimize the accumulation of lint. Also keep the area around your dryer clean and free from furniture or clutter.]
- Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals – If possible wash the clothes more than once to reduce the amount of chemicals on the clothing. Also hang dry the clothing if at all possible.
- Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically – Inspect the outside dryer exhaust vent if possible while the dryer is running to ensure exhaust air is escaping. If not contact a qualified professional to inspect the dryer and exhaust duct further and perform the required maintenance or repairs to ensure the dryer operates as intended.
This post has explained the importance of properly caring for and maintaining your dryer and dryer exhaust duct to reduce the risk of fires. Remember to inspect your dryer and exhaust duct periodically for proper operation.