Yes, go ahead and ask yourself if your clothes dryer is plotting against you. Of course it is not, but keep in mind that most people use a clothes dryer on a daily basis and seldom give thought to maintenance unless it quits working. As much as washing machines and clothes dryers have changed our way of life drastically (for the good), clothes dryers are responsible for a significant amount of deaths, damages and injuries every year. Statistics point to about 15,600 structure fires, 400 personal injuries, and 15 deaths annually as a result of dryer fires. Some have estimated the cost of such damages is over 100 million dollars. As a Home Inspector, I have performed numerous Home Inspections and can attest to the neglect that clothes dryers (specifically the exhaust systems) suffer. They are simply something most of us take for granted. Please don’t.
The culprit causing the damages is most often the exhaust system for the dryer. It is vital to have the exhaust system inspected periodically. Typically a dryer vent needs cleaning every two to three years. There are numerous companies specializing in cleaning dryer ducts (exhausts), and you should not have a problem finding one in your area. Some heating and cooling companies provide this service also. Frequency of inspection will vary depending on use, length and design of your exhaust system, however I would recommend you have it serviced one year after the initial cleaning and inspection, to help determine how often it needs serviced. If you are still reading this and do not know when your system was last checked, get up and schedule an inspection and cleaning.
There are signs that you can look for to tell you if your exhaust system needs serviced.
Look for the following:
- The dryer is producing heat, but takes longer and longer to dry the clothes.
- Clothes are still damp after a cycle.
- Clothes are noticeable hotter than usual after a cycle.
- The outdoor flapper on vent hood is closed or partially closed when the dryer is running.
Also remember to never use devices that allow the heat and moisture to vent back into the home.
Also it is dangerous to install a screen over the dryer exhaust termination (often done to keep pesky rodents from entering).
Please remember that a Solar clothes dryer does not have the above concerns and is a real energy saver. Use an outside clothes line when you can.