Does your clothes dryer take one or more cycles to dry clothes? Does the dryer get hot to the touch? If you answered yes to one of more of those questions, ask yourself this: When was the last time you had your dryer vents cleaned? In this Angie's List report, Nancy Naeve Brown explains how a clogged dryer vent can spark a fire
"Clothes dryers are an appliance that makes our lives easier but we often take them for granted, but we shouldn't. We need to maintain them and most importantly have their vents cleaned because if we don't the dryer won't run as efficiently and it's a fire hazard," Angie Hicks with Angie's List said.
"The dryer is designed to exhaust the heat and the moisture while it's drying. If that heat and moisture cannot get out of the dryer, then the dryer just sits there and keeps working itself but it can't accomplish the drying, which then means the dryer works harder and heat builds up and that is what can lead to a dryer vent fire," said Glen Mayfield a Dryer Vent Technician
"Dryer vent cleaning should be left to the experts. They have the proper tools and additionally they know whether your dryer vent meets code and they can fix it if it doesn't, "Hicks said.
"I turned the dryer on and he was outside looking to see what the airflow was like. So he called me out and he was like 'did you turn the dryer on?' I was like 'yeah, sure did, its running.' He was like we are not getting any airflow out here so you guys might have a major clog." Brian Pinkins a Homeowner said.
Homeowner Brian Pinkins was surprised to see what the technician discovered during a cleaning.
"He got out his tools and started to snake through our vent. As he was doing that nothing was happening. He said he could feel a large jam. Well about five minutes later a whole lot of dust and debris and dryer lint started coming out along with a bird's nest," Pinkins said.
"In the newer architecture today many times the dryer is placed - the laundry area is placed where it's convenient for the homeowner, which means in the center part of the home, then as a result the vent can run quite a long distance. We see 15, 20, 25 vents all the time. The longer the vent, the harder it is for the dryer to get the lint out, but it is accomplished by the dryer if the vent is clean. But those homes with longer vents are more susceptible to fire," Mayfield said.
"We asked consumers whether they left their dryers running unattended and many people said they hadn't even thought about that being an issue. One consumer in particular who has a family of seven said if she didn't leave it running while she was away from home she'd never get her laundry done," Hicks said.
"While it may be convenient, you should never leave a dryer running while you're not at home. According to experts, more than 15,000 fires a year are a result of dryers being left unattended," Hicks continued.
"I'm sure it was just a matter of time before something would have really happened." Pinkins said.
It's also wise to have a security lighting plan for the interior of the home, especially if you plan to be away for an extended period of time. The best timers will allow random settings so there is no fixed pattern to signal the homeowner's absence.