If you own a home, then it’s likely you know some of the more common causes of house fires. Cooking is a big one! Many don’t see anything wrong with walking away from food on the stove with the intention of checking on it now and then, but unattended cooking is always something that should be avoided.

Other things like not practicing caution with space heaters, not investing in appropriate chimney and fireplace maintenance, and faulty wiring are other well-known causes for house fires.

But there’s something else known for wreaking havoc, as well – dirty dryer vents. Many give their dryer vents little no thought, assuming any issues with the dryer have to do with the appliance itself. That said, a lot of dryer-related can actually be traced back to the vents, and all it takes is a relatively quick and affordable professional dryer vent cleaning to get you back to where you need to be.

Avoiding Dryer-Related Fires

So, if you were asked what the most common cause of dryer fires is, what would you say? Maybe improper installation, misuse, or even electrical/wiring issues? Well, in actuality, the leading cause of dryer-related fires is something that is actually quite easy to avoid with some professional assistance – lint buildup.

The Most Common Cause of Dryer Fires - Milwaukee WI - Ashbusters lint imageLint is one of the more flammable substances out there (Boy Scouts are known to use it for kindling), and with every load of clothes you dry it accumulates a little more. Now, your lint trap does its best to catch all of this debris, which is why cleaning it out after every load is so important, but there’s simply no way it can get it all.

The more lint that fills up in your vents, the more likely you are to experience clogs and overheating. And, as you might imagine, combining an overheated appliance with a notoriously flammable material isn’t a great or safe scenario.

Along with this, if even the smallest sparks land on these lint-filled areas, you’ll likely see flames growing and spreading before you know it.

All that said, the best way to avoid a dryer fire is to invest in regular vent cleanings. Most technicians will suggest getting these done annually, but if you have a bigger household and typically put your dryer through quite a bit of use, then two or even three times of year may be better for you. We suggest starting with two, then seeing what your tech suggests from there.

Signs of Clogged Vents

So, how can you know whether you need to schedule a dryer vent cleaning or not? First and foremost, think back to the last time you’ve had a vent cleaning completed. If it has been over a year, then it’s definitely time to get one on the books.

Other signs include:

  • Your dryer is taking much longer than normal to dry your clothes. If you go to remove a load only to discover your clothes are still damp, don’t automatically assume the appliance itself needs replacing. It’s quite likely that the problem is clogged vents.
  • Your dryer and laundry are hot to the touch. Notice that your dryer or your clothes themselves are feeling exceptionally hot after running a load of laundry? This is definitely cause for concern and could be an indication that things are overheating.
  • The laundry room is warmer than normal. While these cramped spaces tend to be on the muggier side a lot of the time, an unusual rise in temperature is something to note. Extra humidity in the air is something to be wary of, as well.
  • You notice lint in and surrounding your dryer. Lint is known for building up in the trap, but if it’s escaping the trap or making its way into the actual dryer (or on the floor around it), then there’s likely an issue with the vents.
  • A musty odor is filling the space. A hot/burning or musty odor is another sign of clogged dryer vents. If you’ve been noticing that the smells of your laundry room seem a bit off, it’s definitely worth looking into whether or not your vents are to blame.

Dirty Dryer Vents & Carbon Monoxide

While dryer fires are a huge cause of concern with clogged dryer vents, we would be remiss not to mention the dangers of carbon monoxide exposure, as well. If your vents can’t properly exhaust the fumes and gases your system produces, your risk of carbon monoxide exposure will increase significantly.

What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic colorless, odorless gas that is nearly impossible to detect with your basic senses. Because it’s so hard to note, many pass out before realizing it’s present, which can lead to serious medical issues or even death.

The Most Common Cause of Dryer Fires - Milwaukee WI - Ashbusters alarm imageOne thing you can keep an eye out for, though, is common symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure. These include things like dizziness, headaches, nausea, chest pain, vomiting, and weakness.

Unfortunately, because these ailments are so similar to that of a cold or the flu, all too often exposure isn’t discovered until it’s too late and hospital care is needed. This is why we urge all homeowners to invest in carbon monoxide detectors.

Install these devices on every level of your home to ensure carbon monoxide can be quickly picked up, no matter where it’s originating from. Sync them up, so that when one goes off, they all go off, and be sure to check the batteries every 6 months, as well, to ensure it’s still able to do its job effectively. You’ll also want to replace them every 5 – 7 years.

Schedule Your Dryer Vent Cleaning With Us

A dirty dryer vent leads to an increase in energy bills, worn out clothing, dryer wear and tear, and a lot of wasted time running your dryer time and time again. These, along with the risks discussed above, make investing in affordable cleaning once per year well worth it!

Give us a call today or visit us online to book your next appointment. We’d be happy to help you out soon!