Thursday, April 12, 2007

Public Service Announcement: Bag o'lint

This Old House stuff here today.

A few posts back, I wrote about replacing my clothes dryer, because the old one just wasn't drying the clothes on the automatic sensor cycle anymore. I got a new (to me) used dryer on
Dallas Craigslist only to discover it had the same problem....

Hmmmmmmmm...

I don't believe in coincidences, and neither does Kath, who's living with me. So today, Kath went up on the roof to check out the condition of the dryer vent pipe. On my house, that pipe is about 4" in diameter and maybe 15' feet long. That's right, 15 feet, and Kath found that pipe stuffed, chock-a-block full, with at least 23 years worth of lint. I know it's at least 23 years worth, because that's how long I've lived in this house, and although I've been up on the roof a number of times over the years to attend to various home maintenance chores, I've never cleaned the dryer vent pipe, nor have I ever hired anyone to do it. Kath pointed out there was probably lint from Mike and Chris' baby blankets in that pipe, and Mike and Chris are now 21...

At the very least, a blocked ventpipe will cost you money, because it'll cause your dryer to run longer, by reducing the airflow through the vent. This is what was happening with my new, used dryer, and may well have been the problem with the dryer I replaced. But blocked ventpipes can do things much worse than causing a dryer to become inefficient. With natural gas clothes dryers, the build-up of lint can keep carbon monoxide from escaping, causing it to back up inside your house instead, and that can be fatal. Also, blocked ventpipes can, and do, cause dryer fires.

Your eyes may be glazing over by now, but bear with me. There are now more clothes dryer fires each year than chimney fires. The
Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1998 (the most recent year for which I was able to find stats on this rather grim topic) clothes dryers were involved in over 15,000 fires that resulted in 20 deaths and almost 400 injuries.

On the roof, Kath poked a long metal rod into the pipe to loosen the lint, pulling out as much as she could. Then, back in the house, she reattached the dryer vent hose to the pipe, turned on the dryer, and blew out as much lint as possible. She repeated this process until she could see the bottom of the pipe from the roof. The bag full of lint in the photo is just a small part of what was in the pipe.

Soooooooo...go clean your dryer vent pipes, or hire someone to do it. Housefires are things best avoided (this I know, from firsthand experience). And oh yeah...for what it's worth...my new, used dryer now works BEAUTIFULLY.

8 comments:

Lisa :-] said...

I hope you like your new dryer, even though it looks like you didn't really need one. Good job getting that stuff cleaned out.

My dryer hose is only a few feet long, and I still have been feeling this urge to go out and clean it lately. The last thing I need right now is a house fire.

TJ said...

OMG!
I was thrown back that your dyer's vent was located on the ROOF!
Holy cow.
Our's is about 18" long and goes outside directly from the back of the dryer. Maybe you can take a new route??
Interesting..
Peace TJ

Erin said...

Wow--I've never heard of this! I'm going to go home and check mine!

dreaminglily said...

Ew. lol I'm really allergic so that makes me afraid lol

We need to do ours, it's taking forever to dry things, I know it needs it. But ours is in a very very tricky place. No where near as long though lol Odd they vented that way.

~Lily

Tammy said...

OMG Why is it so long and on the roof?...yikes! Good reminder! XXOO

emmapeelDallas said...

I agree, it's crazy to vent dryers this way, but there are almost no basements in Texas, and laundry rooms are often located in rooms where the only way to vent the dryer is straight up, through the roof. I'm glad that Kath thought to clean it...

Chris said...

Our dryer vent is 19 feet off the ground and I had to clean it out last year. I not only had lint but a martin's nest as well. Talk about a safety hazard!

Chris
My Blog

emmapeelDallas said...

Wow, at least I didn't have birds in mine...I'm glad you thought to clean yours, Chris!