Clothes Dryer Vent Care and Maintenance

Proper installation and maintenance of clothes dryer exhaust vents, filters, and lint screens are important for reducing fire hazards as well as important in keeping the operating costs of clothes drying down to a minimum by assuring that the dryer operates efficiently. Also, the proper venting of this appliance is very important in reducing the deleterious effects of moisture contamination to a building structure and to the building inhabitants’ healthy living environment lg dryer repair pasadena.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security – U.S. Fire Administration National Fire Data Center issued the following report (excerpt)-Vol. 13, Issue 7/August 2012

“From 2008 to 2010, fire departments responded to an estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings each year across the nation. These fires resulted in an annual average loss of 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Failure to clean (34 percent) was the leading factor contributing to the ignition of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. Dust, fiber, and lint (28 percent) and clothing not on a person (27 percent) were, by far, the leading items first ignited in clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.”

From the above data, it should be evident that dryer fires are fairly prevalent in residences. The evidence also indicates that most of these fires can be prevented by using a few basic practices. The very simple act of cleaning the machine’s lint filter with each load of laundry should always be done. This practice alone could eliminate many of the yearly reported dryer fires. Also, it is recommended by manufacturers of these appliances, to include a yearly inspection of the entire length of the dryer vent ducting system since it can, over time, become clogged with lint build-up.

In addition to the importance of preventing appliance fires, proper exhaust venting installation, materials, routing and lint screening are important in reducing excessive clothes drying time and utility costs. Longer dryer operating time means higher energy costs for the laundry system. Energy studies have indicated savings of over 50% when vents are regularly inspected and kept free of lint clogs from the appliance to its termination point.

Virtually all manufacturers’ clothes dryer vent installation guides stipulate that the vent ducting carries moist air all the way to the outside of the building and shall not terminate into an attic space or into a crawl space. This is also a requirement of most local building regulations. Even if the dryer exhaust vent does extend to the outdoors, an improperly sloped, damaged, or disconnected dryer vent can leak its exhaust contents into the building.

Proper venting of dryer discharge can also aid in the prevention of moisture damage to buildings. Moisture damage caused by the saturation of building materials could include conditions of decay, mold contamination or termite attack on the structure.

Many home clothes dryers are installed close to an exterior wall. This has the distinct advantage of a very short run from the dryer to the outside of the building. A flex duct is normally the acceptable application for this short vent run. This type of corrugated duct, although legal by most code regulations, has a tendency to collect more lint and debris than a smooth wall configuration.

Air operated clothes dryer wall vents may be a way to avoid these dryer fire hazards while lowering energy costs. Air-operated exterior wall vents for clothes dryer vent ducts are widely available at hardware stores, building supply centers, and online. These devices use movable plastic or metallic louvers that lift to permit venting of the laundry dryer exhaust when the dryer is operating. The opening is not screened when the vent is open, so lint clogging is practically eliminated. When the dryer stops operating the louvers return to their closed position, thus reducing air infiltration into the home’s conditioned space.

Modern clothes drying appliances, although very efficient, can create environmental hazards to building occupants. As with all heating appliances in the home, fire hazards do exist. Proper care of the dryer and its associated venting system is very important for fire prevention. It can increase the unit’s efficiency and result in a lowering of utility costs. An added benefit of such attention to the appliance is in controlling the negative effects of moisture retention in the building structural elements and its interior spaces.

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