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When Is It Time to Get Your Dryer Vent Cleaned?

I am sure that youíve noticed the new Farmers Insurance video on the homepage that explains the necessity to have regular dryer vent cleanings. In fact, there was a great article on the subject with Houston Fire Department officials stating that fire fighters respond to several fires each month caused by lint build-up in dryer vents. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) claims that in the U.S., fires caused by dryer vents have surpassed those caused by chimneys. The United States Fire Association (USFA) published a report recently that 34 percent of all clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. All things considered, these are some very alarming statistics.

One of the contributing factors to air duct fires is the configurations of longer dryer vents in newer homes. Home builders used to install dryer vents that were only a few feet long. Now they are installing dryer vents that are anywhere from 15-30ft long. In some cases, the clothes dryers are installed on the second floor which requires more bends in the vent pipes than in the past. The situation is very dangerous because the longer, increasingly bent dryer vent pipes arenít able to emit the lint and excess debris outside the wall of your home.

Another factor is the PVC plastic piping that was used in the dryer vents in the past. Because lint has a very, very low flash point, even lower that a piece of paper, it is highly flammable and can be ignited by a small spark.  If the dryer vent gets clogged and the motor happens to be near the dryer opening, any small the lint could ignite, just like in the Farmers Insurance commercial.  Rigid metal and flexible aluminum vents are being used by builders and electricians when installing dryer vents because they can act as a radiant heat barrier and contain flames for up to five minutes which gives emergency services enough time to respond in most cases.

According to the Community Association Underwriters of America, homeowners should follow the following guidelines for proper air duct maintenance and cleaning.

1. Lint should be removed from the lint filter before or after each load. If the filter is ripped it should be replaced since the lint may fall into the dryer.

2. The lint filter should be washed with soap and water regularly in order to remove any residue left behind by fabric softener sheets.

3. Homeowners are encouraged to inspect and clean outside wall dampers regularly.

4. Lint that falls behind and beneath your dryer should be vacuumed regularly.

5. They should also disconnect and clean the dryer duct and venting every two years. If the clothes dryer is used more frequently or there are longer vent pipes then it should be cleaned annually. The CUA suggests hiring a professional dryer vent cleaning company to perform this service if you are unable to.

6. Your clothes dryer should be serviced and cleaned by a professional, factory-authorized service representative every two to three years.

Some other tips include avoiding putting any type of material that has absorbed any flammable liquid in the clothes dryer and Never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or asleep. Air dryer vent and clothes dryer fires are on the increase and your loved ones will appreciate every step you take to prevent a fire.

For more than 19 years, American Fireplace Inc., Houston, Texasí fully licensed chimney cleaners, air duct and dryer vent cleaners have been providing cleaning services to more than 35,000 industrial, commercial and residential clients inside and outside the Houston, Texas area.  Our certified experienced professionals can perform chimney cleaning and repairs, air duct cleaning, dryer vent cleaning or other chimney, fireplace or dryer vent related services for all types of chimneys, air ducts and dryer vents. Keeping your unitís fire safe, we are American Fireplace Inc.!

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