Nothing about a clothes dryer seems dangerous. It doesn’t have exposed flames, unlike an oven or stove. It doesn’t expose users to intense heat, unlike a space heater, clothes iron or a toaster. It doesn’t have any sharp blades, unlike a blender, garbage disposal or lawnmower. By all means, clothes dryers are seemingly safe.
However, appearances are deceiving. Clothes dryers are among the most dangerous appliances in a household. Many of the dangers stem less from the machine itself and more from the dryer vents, the extended tube that transports the hot air and lint away from the machine. When cleaned and clear, the vents release hot air and lint outdoors with no problems. When unclean and clogged with lint, the blocked vent causes the machine to improperly release fumes and retain heat, thus becoming a serious safety hazard.
Here is a look at some of the problems that arise from having clogged dryer vents.
The mildest problem is moisture buildup. The clogged dryer vent will prevent the moisture in the wet clothes from exiting. Instead, the moisture will stay inside the dryer, causing clothes to take much longer to dry than normal. The moisture might also seep out from the machine, creating a damp laundry room and a mold risk.
2. Machine Malfunction
Because the heat will also not be able to release from the dryer, the machine will struggle to function properly. It will take longer amounts of time to dry clothes. The machine will overheat, sometimes even feeling hot to the touch on the top and sides. The machine might stop operating mid-cycle. While overheating, clothes can come out of the machine unusually hot. The inefficient machine will increase electricity bills because it burns more power.
Extending from point No. 2, when the machine is unable to release heat, it becomes a fire hazard. Clogged dryer vents are one of the leading causes of house fires, with low estimates around 15,000 per year. They wreak $100 million in property damage annually.
4. Toxic Fumes
Natural gas dryers have another unique need for adequate ventilation. The gas that is used for heating produces toxic fumes that must be transported outdoors. If the vent is blocked, the fumes will become trapped indoors, presenting a serious health risk.
Apart from the clogs, ventilation professionals are sometimes necessary to solve other vent related problems. For example, many homes do not have vents that connect outdoors, but instead only go to the attic or a garage. Again, this is a safety risk. Some vents are made of non-metal materials, which pose another series of dangers because they will easily fall apart. And finally, vents that aren’t secured with a screen or flap at the end can end up with animals finding their way inside, as seen when a mouse travels into the tube or when a bird makes a nest at the mouth of the vent. Not only can pest issues result in blockages, but they can also leave dead animals within.
Clogs aren’t visible from the exterior, which is why it is important to have them inspected and cleaned by professionals. This is especially true of longer vents that extend several yards in length, which would be difficult for the average person to clean on their own. The health and property hazards are too risky to not invest in vent cleaning.
If you have more questions about cleaning your dryer vents, click here to contact us or inquire about a free estimate.