Denver's Home Inspector Coach | Dryer Safety

"Simple Dryer Maintenance can Save your Home!"

by Rick DeBolt 11/21/2013
denver home inspector, dryer article

This may be the most talked about issue in home dangers, but as a professional home inspector I am surprised to see that many of us have not even taken the simplest steps to protect our families. Manufacturers and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommend cleaning lint traps before or after each load. Lint is volatile at best and it does not take much to ignite. We must at least do the basics to contain this stuff. Lint is very common, but be advised, it is very dangerous. Why do you think every dryer has a lint filter to recover it so you can dispose of it? We constantly see at our home inspections burnt/charred lint inside dryers and dryer vents. So, annually I get up on my soap box and expound on the dangers of lint and this great machine we call a dryer.

There are ways to reduce the fire hazard caused by lint. Like a gun misfiring, there are safety tips we must learn about our valued appliance. A gun mishandled, can kill, but my friends, so can a dryer; or we can always go back to the old clothes line. Here are a few very common tips that are important and we pray you take it to heart.

Manufacturers and the CPSC state: Clean the filter after EVERY load. Have you ever noticed the heavy build up of link after washing towels or terry cloth items? Remove it! EVERY LOAD.

It is never a good idea to leave the home with the dryer operating. We are so used to leaving so many electrical items "Home Alone" and running that people to realize the risk. Please stop the dryer and resume your laundry chores after you return home or complete the drying cycle before leaving.

We constantly run into plastic dryer vents. Manufacturers do not recommend these devices! Smooth metal duct work is preferred and joints are to be taped (not screwed) with aluminium foil tape. But at the very least, flexible metal duct work that is not hidden behind a wall is better than any plastic. Bottom line: Follow the manufacturer's recommendations!

We highly recommend a professional appliance technician actually disassemble, clean, and lubricate your machine at least every two years. Not only will this action remove hidden lint in the dryer cavity, but this service will prolong the life of your machine. That's called a two-for-one benefit!

Take a look at the length of your dryer vent. The rule of thumb for most dryer manufacturers is that your vent should not exceed 25 feet. Your dryer is not a powerful leaf blower! These machines cannot blow lint for excessive distances. Traversing through cold crawl spaces at great distances allows the vent to fill with condensate, collect lint on the duct walls, and eventually blocks the line. When is the last time you crawled into that ugly space to clean the line?

Basement laundry rooms are problematic and handyman installs should be avoided. We again highly recommend a technician survey the best and shortest route to the exterior of the home. There are mechanically assisted vents lines, but only a qualified technician should recommend and install these devices.

We do not recommend the screened bug/rodent guards on the exterior of the home. These screened devices trap lint and cause more problems then they solve. Your manufacturer's technicians know the correct movable louver exhaust devices to use. Trust the technician to meet the safety requirements needed for your dryer.

Okay, there are probably more safety issues to chat about, but these are the big common errors we see as we inspect your biggest investment...your home. R&L Home Inspections will do our best to call out safety issues in your home, but we need your help with keeping you safe and your home standing!

Rick DeBolt | Your Denver Home Coach
R&L Home Inspections
Colorado Home Inspections | Denver Home Inspector