Is Your Tenant’s Dryer A Fire Hazard?

By: Bob Bellis , Dryer Vent Wizard of Central Jersey 

Without proper maintenance, the dryer vent is a potential home fire hazard—yet the majority of homeowners are unaware that the problem even exists. The result is venting systems that clog over time and become a growing fire hazard with each load of laundry.

Clothes dryer fires account for 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries annually, with an estimated $88 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Data Center in Emmetsburg, MD. Failure to clean lint out of the dryer vent line is the leading cause.

Dryer manufacturers call for rigid metal piping and an annual cleaning to prevent the lint build up that leads to fires.  A clogged dryer vent can also add as much as $18 to $24 per month to energy costs.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), any vent over 25 feet is considered a fire hazard and installation of a “booster fan” is recommended. Booster fan installation helps dryers function safely and more efficiently. “Improper venting can cause problems as well.” according to Bob & Cathy Bellis, owners of the local Dryer Vent Wizard franchise based in Ocean Township. Bob explains “It isn’t uncommon to find dryer vent lines that consist of many turns and impede the smooth air flow that is needed to vent a dryer properly.  In those cases we can re-route the line to improve air flow and cause less lint build up over time.  It’s also common to find plastic or foil accordion-type material, which can easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks and crushing.”  Dryer Vent Wizard technicians are trained on booster fan installation, re-routing and repair of dryer vent lines as well as dryer vent cleaning.

The solution to the problem is creating awareness in maintaining dryers and dryer vents. They believe their role is as much about educating consumers as it is doing the work itself. They warn consumers that the most common sign of a venting problem is the clothes taking too long to dry.  Additionally, they offer these tips to help consumers keep their dryers up and running, prevent dryer fires and reduce energy consumption:

  • Be sure that dryer vent systems are up to code with city, state and the manufacturer.
  • Replace any plastic or foil venting with semi-rigid or solid metal venting.
  • Clean lint screens before and after drying a load.
  • Wash lint screens with soap and water every few months to remove residue left behind by fabric softeners.
  • Have dryer vents professionally cleaned and inspected annually.

 

Warning signs that indicate the dryer vent line might be overdue for a cleaning include:

  • Clothes are taking more than one cycle to dry, especially jeans and towels.
  • No lint is visible on the lint screen.
  • Dryer repeatedly stops during a cycle.
  • Clothes have moldy smell after dry cycle.

Bob and Cathy Bellis are the owners of Dryer Vent Wizard of Central Jersey.  Bob and Cathy reside in Monmouth County NJ. The company services residential, commercial and multi-unit properties throughout the state.  For more information you can reach Bob directly at 201-681-6484 or bbellis@dryerventwizard.com.

 

 

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