The clothes dryer is an appliance of both convenience and necessity for consumers today. Clothes dryers are found in about 80 percent or over 81 million homes in the US. Clothes dryers remove about ½ gallon of water from each load of laundry, which creates the lint that is found in the lint filter after each load. Clothes dryers are one of the most expensive appliances in your home to operate, so it is important that they be properly maintained to reduce energy costs.
Dryer vent cleaning and maintenance are also important to reduce the risk of fire caused by overheating when lint builds up in your dryer vent. Most of the lint is caught in the filter that you should be cleaning out after each load of laundry, however, some escapes into the vent system. Since water is also being removed from the laundry, the lint is moist and it sticks to the sides of the vents, eventually drying to a hard crust as it builds up and reduces air-flow. This is the beginning of a cycle that causes the dryer to work inefficiently and eventually causes a fire.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 15,000 fires are associated with clothes dryers per year. Most of these fires are due to improper dryer vent cleaning and maintenance. As consumers are becoming aware of the dangers associated with their clothes dryers, the number of dryer fires has dropped by about 35% over the last few decades. This is positive news, but still, many consumers remain unaware of the importance of dryer vent cleaning.
Young people, who have not been on their own very long, still have a lot to learn about home and appliance maintenance. Many learn by trial and error, however, some error can be life threatening! Even though these young people are adults, it is still important for parents to educate their children on the issues that they may not be aware of. A clothes dryer is so simple to operate a five year old can do it; however, it is unlikely that the child will know how to clean the lint filter, let alone the entire vent system.
Lack of maintenance is the major contributor to dryer fires. Lint build-up causes reduced airflow, resulting in the dryer working inefficiently, increasing the cost of energy used to operate the appliance. Problems also occur if consumers place the wrong items in their dryer, such as foam backed rugs, which can fall apart and block the lint trap. Clothing or rags, soaked with flammable substances, even after washing, may produce vapors that could ignite. These items should be washed separately and line dried to reduce the risk of fire. Many older dryers still have exhaust systems made of plastic or vinyl which is not up to code today.
Rigid or flexible metal venting and ducting material helps to sustain proper airflow and reduce the operating costs of a clothes dryer, extending the life of both your dryer and your clothing, due to lower drying temperatures. Consumers should be cleaning the lint filter after every load of laundry. The interior and exterior of the venting system should be professionally inspected and cleaned by a qualified dryer vent repair and maintenance company at least once a year. Plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses should be replaced with rigid or flexible metal material.
This article was written by Janice Bittner, owner of http://www.dryerventwizard in Northern Virginia. Janice specializes in dryer vent cleaning, maintenance, repair and alterations to prevent clothes dryer fires. She is also committed to educating all of her customers, explaining to them how their dryer duct and vent system works and how to properly maintain it to reduce the risk of fire. Janice services Northern Virginia, Fairfax, Loudoun, Arlington and Alexandria Counties, Annandale, Huntington, Sterling, and neighboring cities and communities.