Dryer fires are far more common than you may think. The leading cause is lint build up in the vents and machine. Lint build up is extremely flammable, especially in Calgary’s dry climate, and all it takes is one spark to set your entire laundry room and home in flames. I had the chance to chat with Dryer Vent Experts, a Calgary company that specializing in dryer vent cleaning and maintenance. He had some strong advice to offer up. First and foremost-NEVER leave your home when your dryer is running.
Signs that your vent needs to be cleaned
- Your clothes are taking longer to dry than usual or they come out wet after a regular cycle
- There is a burning smell in your laundry room
- The top of your dryer is unusually hot when in use
- Your laundry room is warmer than it should be when a load is finished
- Your dryer begins shutting off before the cycle has ended
- The flapper vent is not opening when the dryer is on
How to prevent lint build-up
- Make sure to clean the lint filter before or after EVERY load of laundry. Here in Calgary our cold weather clothing, such as fleece, generates a large amount of lint when placed in the dryer.
- Ensure the exhaust is not restricted, as it can be easily bent or crushed, restricting the hot air from escaping your house and allowing lint to build up
- Keep anything that could be combustible away from the dryer or vent in case of a potential fire
- Clean behind your dryer and the surrounding area on a regular basis
- Clean your dryer vent and exhaust at least once a year. Schedule it at the same time as your furnace is cleaned.
How to safely clean your dryer vent-DIY
- Disconnect all power to your dryer and disconnect the gas if it is a gas dryer
- Safety disconnect different sections of the duct work to ensure the entire vent is thoroughly cleaned
- Use a lint brush with rough, thick bristles so that the lint has something to stick too – using a vacuum cleaner is always an option as well, but it does not do as good a job of detaching all of the lint from the sides of the exhaust
- When inserting the lint brush into the exhaust, twist and turn it slowly to make sure all of the lint is reached
- When all the lint is removed, reattach all of the duct work
- Then go to the outside of your home where your vent is, remove the cover and stick your brush into the exhaust from this angle, as this is where a lot of build up occurs
- Once you have all of your ductwork fastened tightly and your vent cover properly reattached you can turn your dryer back on and it will be as good as new!
Dryer vent regulations
- Exhaust ducts must be a minimum of 0.016-inch-thick
- It is recommended to use metal ductwork instead of plastic, as metal is a non-flammable material
- The exhaust must have a smooth interior surface, so that lint does not get caught in bumps or ridges
- An exhaust should not be connected and fastened with screws or anything that would extend into the duct
- The length of your ductwork cannot exceed 25feet from the dryer to the wall, where the exhaust is connected to the vent
- The diameter of the duct is determined by the dryer you own, generally most require a duct that is 4 inches in width
See the Calgary Home Inspection Blog for more information on dryer vent regulations.
One additional problem in Calgary are the furry little critters that enjoy creeping through your dryer vent when it is open, and winter is fast approaching. Buy a fire resistant mesh cover to put over your vent to prevent access to your home. This will also need to be cleaned on a regular basis, as it will attract a lot of the lint coming from the exhaust of the dryer.
Take the time, at least once a year, to clean out your vent or hire professionals to take care of this for you – it is such a simple task but is often overlooked. Check out Who to Call for trustworthy service companies that will clean, inspect or even reinstall your dryer vent system for you.