Do you need professional Long Island dryer duct cleaning? When homeowners think of fire hazards, kitchen stoves and ovens come to mind. However, the clothes dryer is often overlooked. This appliance generates considerable heat when drying wet clothes. Normally, this is not a problem because the heated air is vented outside through the dryer duct. However, when the duct is filled with lint, two things happen. First, lint from drying clothing cannot escape through the blocked vent and backs up into the internal components of the dryer. Second, the blocked (or mostly blocked) vent reduces airflow, which causes heat to build up.
The trapped heat increases the dryer’s temperature until the lint catches fire. This can happen in a number of ways:
- The extreme temperature induces a mechanical failure and causes a spark that ignites the lint.
- Lint gets into the heater box and ignites.
- The temperature gets sufficiently high to ignite the lint (511 degrees Fahrenheit). Sometimes charred lint is found inside ducts where it smoldered but did not produce a flame.
Once a fire starts, it may go unnoticed and have sufficient time to expand and spread to the rest of the house. This is particularly true of long ducting that is located along or within walls and ceilings. Centrally located dryers are at high risk of lint fires because of their length, which can run as far as 25 feet. Long ducts resist air flow more than short ones.
Why Lint Is So Flammable
Drying clothes release small polyester and cotton fibers that are carried up through the dryer duct. Over time, they cling to the interior duct surface and slowly build up into a mass of flammable fibers with lots of entrapped air. Lint is especially flammable because the loose fiber provides lots of surface area for the fire to take hold. The entrapped air provides plenty of oxygen to support combustion. This phenomenon is why cotton balls burn so well.
Symptoms of a Lint Build Up
- Interior windows near the dryer are fogged up. Lack of proper venting causes moisture from the drying clothes to humidify the room.
- The dryer exterior and the clothes inside are very hot. Because heat is not properly venting outside, it builds up in the dryer.
- Clothes take longer to dry. Poor moisture venting increases the drying time.
- Lint is coming out of the exterior vent. This is evident from its buildup near the exterior vent opening.
- The outside vent flap does not open. The air flow is insufficient to open the flap.
- There is a burning smell. This is either a fire in progress or smoldering. Immediately turn off your dryer. Smoldering indicates your dryer requires inspection, repair, and cleaning.
- Your ducting will also require inspection and cleaning. If the smell persists or gets worse, call 911, disconnect the power and get everyone out of the house.
How to Avoid a Lint Fire
- After each dryer load is finished, thoroughly clean the lint screen.
- Just as you would never leave a hot stove or oven unattended, someone should always be home when the dryer is in use. Never leave the dryer running when sleeping.
- Periodically check the ducting for damage.
- Avoid flexible ducting. Its ridges can catch lint, and the duct may collapse, get crushed, or pinched.
- Check for animal or insect nests inside your duct.
- Check that the outside vent flap opens when the dryer is running.
- Have the duct thoroughly cleaned at least once per year.
Lint buildup blocks airflow, which increases the dryer temperature to dangerous levels. Lint also provides the tinder for starting a fire. Therefore, its removal is paramount. To ensure complete removal of all the lint, hire a professional. Only a professional has the right tools and experience to do the work correctly and safely. An experienced person will also notice and inform you of other safety problems with your system.
For professional Long Island dryer duct cleaning, or for answers to your dryer duct cleaning questions, contact Greensite today.