The Most Dangerous Appliance In Your House

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

What do you think it is?  The microwave?  Toaster?  Hot tub?  Computer (for lots of reasons...)?

Actually, it is none of the above.

The most dangerous appliance in your house may be your dryer!

Think about it.  Dryer fires cost Americans as much as $100 million annually!  They result in almost 50,000 fires that require the fire department, and average 400 injuries and 15 fatalities - annually.  They cause more fires than electrical problems.  And 81% of them happen in residential homes. (1)  That is dangerous!

Most dryer fires are reported in the laundry room.  In the olden days, that meant the basement or the garage.  But in modern society, the laundry room location has shifted to the bedroom, kitchen, family room, hallway or closet.

When to most fires happen?  Incidences increase dramatically from November to March, with 10.6% happening in January.  Why?  Probably because that is when we wash our heaviest clothing.  It takes more time to dry them, they heat up and poof!

And what is the most common cause of dryer fires?  VENTILATION.  And that for many reasons:

1.  In modern houses dryer vents cover longer distances to reach an outside wall.

2.  Clogs that occur because of sharp bends or turns.

3.  Plastic or foil wrapped "slinky" venting.  This venting has lots of pockets that can trap lint.  Solid vents are highly recommended.

4.  Incorrect venting which does not exhaust outdoors but into a crawl space, attic, or interior walls.  This can also contribute to the increase of molds and air deterioration.  Also, incorrect venting which allows animals to get inside where they nest or otherwise obstruct air flow.

What is the most important thing we can do to prevent dryer fires?

Keep our vents clean!  That means disconnecting the vent tubing from the dryer every one to two years and either cleaning it all ourselves (including as much of the tubing as possible) or hiring a professional company to do it. 

And by following proper installation guidelines when the dryer is first installed.

 

____________________________________

Dryer Loss Control Recommendations -- Per the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

1. Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes – If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle or drying requires longer times than normal, this may be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked.

2. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically – Check the outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping.

3. Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting materials with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct – The flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks and crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow.

4. Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals – Special care is required when drying clothes exposed to gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, finishing oils and stains. If possible, wash the clothes more than once and, preferably, hang the clothes to dry. If using a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cool-down period at the end of the cycle.

___________________________________

 

My recommendation:  When you buy a new dryer, have it installed professionally.  Most retailers will deliver and install nowadays.  And pay special attention to keeping your vent clean where the vent exits the dryer and enters the wall, and where it discharges on the outside of your house!

 

(1) “Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings”.   Topical Fire Research Series.  U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  U.S. Fire Administration.   Volume 7, Issue 1.  January 2007.

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jody Deeds 11/11/2009 08:32 AM
  2. Wallace S. Gibson, CPM 01/21/2010 06:47 AM
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Prince William County Bristow
Groups:
The Vent
Professional Home Inspectors
Active Rain Block Party
Tags:
dryer installation
dryer venting
dryer safety
dryer fires

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Rainmaker
453,503
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - Great reminder for those who improperly install or neglect the dryer vent.  Perhaps you'll save someone from disaster.

Nov 10, 2009 08:17 PM #3
Ambassador
1,369,823
Norma Toering
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes & Beach Cities Homes in L.A. CA

Jay - I always clean the lint screen after each load, but I know many people only clean it periodically--that's literally playing with fire!

Nov 10, 2009 08:20 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Vickie!  It really is important.

Charlie - agreed!  Then why do we see it so much!?

John - I don't think people realize how important the installation is!  We see so many dryer problems on home inspections.

Nov 10, 2009 08:21 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Norma - the lint screen is cleaned regularly by most people.  I am talking about the connections behind the dryer and into the wall as well.

Nov 10, 2009 08:22 PM #6
Rainmaker
732,706
Barbara S. Duncan
RE/MAX Advantage - Searcy, AR
CRS, GRI, e-PRO, Searcy AR

Excellent advice.  I never leave home with my dryer running. or my dishwasher either.

Nov 10, 2009 08:52 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's excellent advice too Barbara!

Nov 10, 2009 08:56 PM #8
Rainer
639,033
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

It is amazing how much lint you can clean from the filter each time you dry a load of clothes. Just think about what is not going into the filter and into the dryer vent hose.

 They say to take your filter and run it through the diswasher once a month. My wife says something to do with fabric softners. Very good information.

Nov 10, 2009 09:19 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Carl and Ceil - My dryer run on my house is 25'!  I have to be vigilant.  And I think she is right - that stuff is sticky!

Nov 11, 2009 05:02 AM #10
Rainer
16,600
Mike Morgan
Internet Marketing for Real Estate Agents and Brokers - Jensen Beach, FL

You always have great info Jay.  I learn a lot from your posts.  Thanks

Nov 11, 2009 05:48 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thank you, Mike, for the nice compliment!

Nov 11, 2009 06:02 AM #12
Rainmaker
224,250
Suesan Jenifer Therriault
JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team - Blakeslee, PA
"Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own".

Jay, I really hate those dang foil vents. All they do is trap the lint yet no one will take them off the market. I've done so many inspections were the vent leading out of the dryer was almost clogged shut.

Nov 11, 2009 08:29 AM #13
Rainer
50,395
Jody Deeds
Columbus Real Estate Pros - Columbus, OH

Excellent post Jay.  I'm re-blogging it.  It's well written and has information all home owners need to be reminded of.  Thanks for sharing it.

Nov 11, 2009 08:31 AM #14
Rainmaker
78,275
Eric Middleton
Closer Look Property Inspections Inc. - Uniondale, NY
Professional Property Inspector

Hey Jay,

That is a really informative post. I'm sure every one will look at their dryer in a new light.

Nov 11, 2009 03:45 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I know Sue.  I wonder too why they are still out there yet so dangerous.  I guess because they are cheap and convenient!  A fire takes all that convenience and cheapness away though...

Jody - thank you!  I was reading a very long, 26-page, article and thought there were some things in it I could boil down and share.

Thanks Eric.  I was informed too when I read the article!  (See comment above...)

Nov 11, 2009 06:17 PM #16
Rainmaker
68,576
Vince Santos
StepByStep Home Services LC - Canton, MI
Southeast Michigan Home Inspector

I provide clients with a link to the CPSC site with recommended replacement of vinyl and foil vents. I'm not sure if they even sell the vinyl vents anymore.

Nov 12, 2009 02:51 PM #17
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Vince - I have to admit, I don't look in the hardware stores to see, but I sure see the stuff everywhere on inspections!

Nov 12, 2009 04:54 PM #18
Rainmaker
1,184,653
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

That would probably be my first guess. Although kids clothing and gas burners are scary too.

Nov 14, 2009 03:36 PM #19
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Steve - Especially when "Made in China."

Nov 14, 2009 08:57 PM #20
Rainmaker
479,975
Kenneth Cole
Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com... - Staten Island, NY
NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

Wow!  Thanks so much Jay for this information.  With your permission, I'm putting this on my post about dryer vent fire safety.

Mar 05, 2011 08:04 AM #21
Rainmaker
1,269,037
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, of course Ken!  But that info was just to add to your knowledge!  If you want to share you may, but you have to share with everyone in the class...

Mar 05, 2011 08:29 AM #22
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Rainmaker
1,269,037

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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