dryer selecting, how to choose a dryer, dryer vent safety.

 

There are so many considerations that go into choosing a dryer. Many more than you probably expected when you decided a new dryer was in order. Today’s tumble dryers have so many options, it could easily feel like too many. So let’s start with the basics and we’ll walk through some of the new-fangled options too.

 

Measure the space

First thing’s first: how much room can you give to your new dryer? You will not be happy if the dryer you buy is one inch too wide, so don’t eye-ball it. Bust out the tape measure and write down what you find out. Remember that a tight fit may be undesirable too, especially if you want to swing the door all the way open.

 

Hinge Side

Have you ever had a washer and dryer whose doors swing into each other? Many people have, because they weren’t careful when selecting hinge side. You don’t choose based on your dominant hand or where the door to the room is, you want your dryer to open away from the washer, so that you don’t have to lift clothes over or around the dryer door. You will be asked when ordering which side you want it to open to, since all models have the option of opening either way.

 

Electric or Gas?

With the exception of your refrigerator, nothing in your home will use more energy than your dryer, whether it’s electric or gas. There are differences between the way each type of dryer uses energy that can have a big impact on the true cost of owning and operating one over the other. All dryers use electricity to keep your clothing in motion throughout the cycle. Electric dryers also use electricity to power the heater and fan that continually blows hot air through the machine. Gas dryers power these components using natural gas or propane. Gas dryers are harder to relocate, and tend to stay with the houses they’re installed in.

 

Steam Cleaning

Our dryers used to just dry things, but these days they tend to offer more than that. Steam Cleaning cycles are starting to become available in many models. This cycle removes light stains and odors, and can be used on things that you wouldn’t normally wash, like pillows or stuffed animals.

 

Eco-Mode Settings

Most of us are trying to make our daily lives as ecologically sound as we can, or at least not do maximum damage. Today’s dryers are on our side, as many of them have eco-mode versions of most or all cycles. The eco-mode may be shorter, cooler, or otherwise energy saving.

 

Smart Dryers

If you’re not keen on keeping track of when your dryer needs maintenance or checking if your clothes are dry, there are now models that will email or text you status updates on your drying load or reminders to schedule a vent cleaning. With some models you can even ask the Google Voice Assistant ALexa questions about your dryer or laundry status.

 

The Universal Constant of Dryers

One thing that has not changed, and will not likely change, is that dryer vents need cleaned by a professional regularly for your safety. If your dryer vents haven’t been receiving regular cleanings, you may have a safety issue on your hands. Contact the Irish Sweep today to have your dryer vents made safe again.

dryer fires, lint vent screen fire, safety

 

A high number of home fires begin in your laundry room. This is usually a result of your clothes dryer, although the washer is not immune. The source of a dryer fire can be either the machine itself, or the dryer that goes away from the home. Preventing dryer fires in your Bay Area home is critical and not too difficult. Here are some facts from NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) dated June 2017.

  • Fire departments answered to approximately 15,970 home fires involving laundry rooms. These fires resulted in approximately $238 million in property damage per year, 440 injuries, and 13 deaths.
  • Of these fire calls, 92% were the result of the clothes dryers.
  • The main items in the clothes dryer that can lead to a fire are dust, fiber, or lint.
  • In 31% of clothes dryer fires, the lack of proper trap or vent cleaning is what caused it.
  • Most of the clothes dryer fires occur between August and January, which is why cleanings are recommended over the summer.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. The following are some key steps you can take to avoid such fires:

  • Ensure that you always have your lint filter in your clothes dryer.
  • After each use, clean out the lint filter and any lint within the clothes dryer drum.
  • When you purchase or move a clothes dryer, have it installed by a professional.
  • Make sure your dryer stays in good condition. You should have it inspected annually by a professional.
  • Have the dryer vent cleaned annually.
  • Do not leave your dryer running while you are out of the house or not awake.
  • Within your venting system, use proper materials to reduce the risk.

These tips are the beginning of what you can do to reduce your risk of fires from your clothes dryer. The Irish Sweep is an expert at dryer vent cleaning. We recommend doing this each year, particularly over the summer so you avoid the risks of fires.

carbon monoxide poisoning, hidden danger in your home, safety

 

Some call it the hidden poison. Many still don’t have a detector for it. It is the most common cause of poisoning death in the United States. It causes about 500 deaths and 15,000 visits to the emergency room annually due to unintentional poisoning. Seniors can be impacted the most due to other medical issues. It is preventable through a detector. Carbon monoxide is this danger in your home, and it can be avoided.

 

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause illness and death. CO is produced whenever any fuel such as natural gas, propane, gasoline, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. Devices that produce CO include cars, boats, gasoline engines, kitchen stoves and ovens, barbeques and heating system. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces.

 

How do your recognize CO poisoning?

At low levels, a person exposed to CO will notice headaches and trouble breathing after some moderate exercise. Regular or severe exposure to carbon monoxide will lead to flu-like symptoms. Some of these include but are not limited to severe headaches, dizziness, tiredness, nausea, confusion, irritability, and impaired judgment, memory and coordination. Should the above signs not be addressed, then it is possible for carbon monoxide to lead to death. This is why it is sometimes called a “silent killer”.

 

How to Tell the Difference between CO Poisoning and the Flu

While symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to those of the flu, you may not realize that CO is impacting you. The following are the ways you can connect the symptoms with carbon monoxide:

  • The symptoms are more pronounced when you are at home
  • Multiple people get the symptoms at the same time. The flu usually spreads it over time
  • Whoever spends more time at home has more severe symptoms
  • When any device that emits CO is used, the symptoms are worse
  • The impact can be on indoor animals too. The flu generally does not pass to pets.
  • Your body has no achiness.
  • You have no fever or lymph node swelling

 

Prevention

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home.
  • Have an inspection done of your heater and fuel burning appliances each year.
  • Do not burn fuels inside your home.

Should you have any questions or need your annual inspection done on your dryer vent by our certified expert, contact Sal at the Irish Sweep.

dryer vent lint screen safety fire

 

We’ve discussed the importance of clean dryer vents, but most people don’t even know how a dryer works and the impact the vents have on things. I wanted to take a moment and explain how dryer vents work. The following is the simplistic explanation of how clothes dryers work:

  1. Air comes to the main body of the dryer through a hole in the front.
  2. The air then passes by a heating element in the dryer and goes into its tumbler to begin drying the clothes.
  3. Afterwards, the air then goes through the holes in the door and to the lint screen.
  4. Once it’s through the lint screen, the air goes past a duct in the front of the dryer and into the fan.
  5. The dryer fan pushes the air into the duct and out through the back of the dryer where it should make its way out of the house. However, if this passageway is dirty/clogged, it can be a very serious fire hazard.

Here are descriptions of some key features of clothes dryers:

Heating element

The dryer heating element is usually made of nichrome wire. Most people do not understand this terminology but think of the wiring you see in your toaster over to make it toast your bread. The heating element uses a high amount of power, up to 6,000 watts. In order to ensure the air goes through this key piece before it goes into the tumbler area, there is a metal stamping to direct the air.

Tumbler

This piece is where you place your clothes for drying. After going through the heating element, the hot air goes through your clothes to dry them.

Door holes

Following the clothes being dried, the air then goes through holes in the dryer door and head to the lint screen.

Lint Screen

This is the dryer section that traps some of the particles that are on clothes and in the air.

Fan

This is a big device that pushes the air out of the dryer and to the outside world through a duct/dryer vent.

Dryer vents serve an important role in being a highway for the exiting air from dryers. If it gets clogged or too dirty, it poses a fire hazard. We highly recommend regular cleanings.

Now that your chimney is clean, take a moment and have your dryer vents cleaned to avoid issues and provide choices. If you have questions or want to have your Bay Area home inspected, please contact Sal at the Irish Sweep.

Impacts of a Dirty Dryer Vent

 

 

Many people who buy washers and dryers notice the rising inefficiency of their appliances over time. The wash cycle that used to take 30 minutes is now taking almost 1 hour. The dryer can no longer dry the same amount of clothes within the 30 minutes you allotted. While some of this is related to the age of the unit, water supplies, etc, this can often be attributed to dirty dryer vents. Doing regular dryer vent cleaning ensures the following:

Safety:

A dirty dryer vent has been found to pose a fire hazard. The material build-up is quite flammable and if left untreated, it is like kindling for a campfire. When moist air in the dryer is trapped, the air can build up in the dryer. A small spark can develop as metal and air meet and move quickly, and the next thing you know, a house fire has started. It is recommended that you clean your dryer vents annually to prevent issues.

Pest Control:

While the build-up of lint can be a super handy fire starter, it can also be a hidden home for those ugly pests or rodents you hate seeing in the home. Many houses have problems as a result of leaving this entryway untreated. Through proper cleaning, pests won’t find the bedding they desire or have the privacy needed to inhabit your vent as their next home.

Efficiency:

When a simple drying task is now taking twice the time, it shows that the dryer is having difficulty. What can you do? Work with your local dryer vent cleaner to get rid of its excess lint.

Now that your dryer vents are clean, take a moment and have your chimney cleaned to avoid issues and provide choices. If you have questions or want to have your Bay Area home inspected, please contact Sal at the Irish Sweep.

Wood burning in fireplaces, though very comforting, have adverse effects on the environment. (Mathew Sumner/San Mateo County Times)FLUE:  Most people say to me, “Will you close the flue once you complete the cleaning process?”  What they are really asking me to do is to close the damper.

So what is the definition of the word flue?  The chimney Safety Institute of America defines this word as, “The passage in a chimney for conveying flue gases to the outside atmosphere.”

And Webster’s Dictionary defines this word as, “A channel or pipe in a chimney for carrying flame and smoke to the outer air.”

The inside of your chimney may contain one or more flues.  It depends upon the number of fireplaces or gas appliances are in the home.

*”Very few people realize the danger of clothes dryer fires. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting.”  If you notice that your clothes require a much longer drying time, maintenance of the dryer exhaust system is imperative.yelp.com-l-495x371

Dryer fires occur when the lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide the condition that ignites a fire.  Most people don’t realize lint is highly combustible.

Once upon a time, dryers were always located in the basement of a home but today people have realized their ability to install a dryer closer to the dirty clothes source which is in the bedroom area of the home.  Often that remodel will put the dry between interior walls of the home instead of directly venting through an exterior wall and the venting material is installed in longer runs which means the dryer has to work harder to push the products of combustion farther.  The end results in a greater accumulation of lint, that highly combustible material.

It is important the lint is removed from the lint trap after every load that is dried.  Even with that good behavior lint can still wander into your appliance.  In our experience, lint screens located near the back of the dryer have less internal build up of lint than those with screens near the front door of the dryer.  We do our best to clean as much of that as possible but sometimes it is necessary to call upon the assistance of a dryer repair company that is qualified to disassemble the dryer and access the interior surfaces that collect lint.

If you are undertaking a remodeling project of this nature, try to make the exhaust run as short as possible, straighter is always better and avoid the use of too many elbows which restrict the flow.

Use only 26 gauge venting material and avoid flexible connectors that are constructed of flammable material.  Unfortunately, we see these flammable products sold in every local hardware store.

When pushing the dryer into position take care not to push the appliance so far back that it crushes the venting material.  If it is time to purchase a new dryer, measure the existing space and be certain not to purchase an appliance that is too deep and will compromise the vent connector.  If you notice a lot of “dust bunnies” in your laundry room, it could be because the venting connector has been crushed or has holes.

The dryer duct needs to vent to the outside atmosphere and not into an attic or crawlspace under the house.

Never use screws to put the venting material together.

For safety, never let your dryer run while you are asleep or out of the house and remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the safe use of their product and install as directed.

Need an appliance specialist?  We have a great referral for you whom we trust with our very own appliances:  Todd Anderson, Anderson Repair Services, 510-301-0223

*The source for this information is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

dryer vent cleaning, structural fires, bay area, alameda, berkeley, oakland, californiaThe US Fire Administration reported 15,600 structural fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries because of lint build up in the venting system of gas and electrical residential dryers.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician perform a duct inspection and cleaning on an annual basis which in the long run saves money because of increased efficiency of the dryer and decrease of wear on your appliance.
SIX WARNING SIGNS THAT YOUR DRYER EXHAUST VENTS NEED TO BE CLEANED
1.  Longer than normal drying time
2.  Reduced performance
3. You see lint coming out of the dryer vent opening
4.  Burning smell when your dryer is running
5.  Dryer feels hot on the outside
6.  You haven’t had your dryer vent cleaned in over 1 year.