Healthy House: The Dangers of Clogged Dryer Vents


MAntczak.jpegWelcome to "Healthy House," a new, regular column designed to provide information for keeping your home safe and free of hazards.  I have over 25 years of experience in the business and I've been asked to share info on home care with you.

Clogged dryer vents are the cause of almost 16,000 fires a year. I've seen horrendous cases of clogged dryer vents; house fires waiting to ignite.   It may seem like a simple exhaust but the mechanics and science behind a dryer vent make it one of the deadliest zones in your home. Certified technicians take course after course to study the proper structure and ventilation of dryer vents.

Here's how you might spot potential danger in your vent:

§                Dryer takes more than an hour to dry a simple load of towels

§                Clothes come out damp after a full cycle.

§                Birds or animals are entering your vent from the outside (birds like to nest in cozy dryer vents)

§                Your transition pipe (the connection from your dryer to the wall) is made of plastic or paper material.



The problem:


Debris collects in your dryer; the lint from clothes adds up into one big mess of debris. To give you a visual picture, think of what happens when you accidently throw a tissue into your washing machine. Imagine that lint maneuvering into your vent, attaching to the sticky, humid walls of your dryer, clogging it to the point that there is very little air moving to the outside.   The trapped heat causes the thermostat to conk-out before the load is dry.  Unregulated thermostats contribute to fire.

That's why the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that a certified company clean your dryer vent at least every two years.  In fact, in NJ, most insurance companies require all community-type dwellings (condos, apts. Townhouses) have dryer vents cleaned a minimum of once every 1 - 3 years.

The process:

All applications are different and at times I need to use my camera guided equipment to be sure the dryer vent is clear.  As I mentioned earlier, I've been in the home care business for 25 years and was shocked when I cleaned the dryer vents in my own home. I pulled out a chunk of lint 3 feet long - bigger than our family dog.  The cleaning system I use sends a rotating brush through the vent and we may also use a blower system and vacuum to be sure the vent is cleared.

If nesting birds are a problem, the problem is two-fold.  The nest causes blockage to your vent's airway and birds can carry very dangerous diseases, one being histoplasmosis, a virus that attacks your lungs.  The nest must be carefully removed and the vent cleared of all remaining bird debris. A bird "cap" or cover is generally a good idea at that point - if birds found your vent once, they'll probably find it again.

The transition pipe (the connection from your dryer into the wall) must be up to current standards.  If it is not, it should be replaced with the proper fitting transition for your particular dryer and ventilation set-up.

Verify that the firm you hire is CSIA certified; have them reveal their credentials. The only way to truly clean a dryer vent is from the inside out. If your vent is cleaned only from the outside, which is something a less-reputable company may suggest (it's easy - you don't have to be home), more damage than good is being done. Imagine pushing the lint from the outside all the way to the back of your dryer and never removing it.  This is unfortunately a problem some of the companies you may encounter.  

A healthy house is a safe house. Please stay safe through the New Year. If you have any questions, leave me a comment here and I'll respond.  Feel free to give me a call at 732-821-4025, or visit my website.  Let me know if there is a topic you'd like me to cover in an upcoming feature.




Check out our new 'OnGard' dryer fire suppression system @
This unit is affordable, easily installed and will protect against electrically activated lint fires.

Hey Mike great article. I too have seen many dryer fires and clogged dryer vents. Check out This will help the situation.

THANK YOU! This prompted me to put this on the husband's "to do" list...!

Leave a comment

Recent Comments

  • firexonline: Check out our new 'OnGard' dryer fire suppression system @ read more
  • Tom Asciolla: Hey Mike great article. I too have seen many dryer read more
  • Anonymous: THANK YOU! This prompted me to put this on the read more

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.21-en