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Dryer Vent Hazards

Failure to clean dryer vents is cited as the leading contributing factor in clothes dryer fires.

Dryer lint is the most common source of ignition.  The risk of fire is equal for both gas-fueled clothes dryers and electric-powered clothes dryers. Even energy efficient dryers cause lint to build up in the vent line.

Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you. Or, often your chimney sweep service may also perform vent cleaning.

Facts and figures*

In 2010, an estimated 16,800 reported U.S. home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines resulted in 51 civilian deaths, 380 civilian injuries and $236 million in direct property damage.

Clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires, washing machines 4%, and washer and dryer combinations accounted for   4%.

The leading cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean (32%), followed by unclassified  mechanical failure or malfunction (22%). Eight percent were caused by some type of electrical failure or malfunction.  *from NFPA

Dryer Safety Tips from NFPA

  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional.

  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.

  • Make sure you clean the lint filter before or after each load of  laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.

  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time.

  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating.

  • Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or  have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.

  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a qualified professional  to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.

  • Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.

  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

  • Failure to clean dryer vents is cited as the leading contributing factor in clothes dryer fires.

Carbon Monoxide KILLS!

Install your CO detector NOW.

Install Your CO Detector NOW

In May 2010, California enacted a law requiring home owners to install carbon monoxide detectors in their homes. The CDC reports that and average of 439 people died annually between 1999 and 2004 from non-fire related CO poisoning (30 to 40 in California annually). Many more people are hospitalized due to symptoms of CO exposure.

Don’t confuse Carbon Monoxide (CO) with Carbon Dioxide (CO2): Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas that is released from burning fossil fuels. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is what we exhale and plants convert back to oxygen.

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced whenever any fuel, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal, is burned.  A person cannot see or smell carbon monoxide.  However, at high levels carbon monoxide can kill a person in minutes.   During the heavy snow storms of 2013 on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada, a young boy died in their family car in the short time it took the father to dig the car out of the snow. Snow drifts blocked the exhaust pipe and CO entered the cabin of the vehicle. That’s how quickly CO can kill you.

Carbon Monoxide is a tasteless, odorless gas. Detection in a home environment is nearly impossible by humans. The symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu: nausea, vomiting, confusion, sore muscles, headache, dizziness, light headedness, loss of balance, etc. Often, people who experience these symptoms simply go to bed thinking they are coming down with a cold. Some never wake up.

Although the bill was signed into law in 2010, California residents were to have carbon monoxide detectors in their homes as of July 1, 2011. This timeline applies only to single-family homes that have appliances that burn fossil fuels (wood, gas and oil) or homes that have attached garages or fireplaces. For all other types of housing, such as apartments and hotels, detectors should be in place as of January 1, 2013.

For minimum security, a CO alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on every level, including basements, within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.  The alarm should be located at least 6 inches (152mm) from all exterior walls and at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) from supply or return vents.



The best way to deal with carbon monoxide is to avoid it in the first place. Install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home as recommended and follow these prevention guidelines:

  • DO have your fuel-burning appliances -- including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves - inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season. Check furnace and clothes dryer flues for signs of damage or obstruction. Birds and squirrels are known for building nests or hiding food in exhaust flues

  • DO choose appliances that vent their fumes to the outside whenever possible, have them properly installed, and maintain them according to manufacturers' instructions.

  • DO read and follow all of the instructions that accompany any fuel-burning device. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device and keep doors to the rest of the house open. Crack a window to ensure enough air for ventilation and proper fuel-burning.

  • DON'T  idle the car in a garage -- even if the garage door to the outside is open. Fumes can build up very quickly in the garage and living area of your home.

  • DON'T use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

  • DON'T ever use a charcoal grill indoors -- even in a fireplace.

  • DON'T sleep in any room with an unvented gas or kerosene space heater.

  • DON'T use any gasoline-powered engines (mowers, weed trimmers, snow blowers, chain saws, small engines or generators) in enclosed spaces.

  • DON'T ignore symptoms, particularly if more than one person is feeling them. You could lose consciousness and die if you do nothing.

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