Dryer Fires

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by Cookie, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    I have been reading about way too many fires being started with dryers. I usually only clean out my dryer vent with the brush I got, the vent inside the dryer. I was wondering if anything else needs to be done, maybe annually? Some other kind of care?

    I wonder how many other readers are wondering, too.
  2. Jerome2877

    Jerome2877 In the Trades

    Messages:
    397
    Location:
    BC
    Yes it is a good idea to have it cleaned out profesionally, the longer the run and more bends the more often it should be done.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

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    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I have had a Whirlpool thin twin stacker for over 20 years. The first time I had to replace the electric element, I found a lot of lint inside, including about an 1/8" layer just laying on top of the heat box, and the bottom side of the layer was singed. Obviously a fire waiting to happen. Now, I open it up about every two years to do a good internal cleanout. By the way, the first one lasted 20 years, was still working, but got a good sale on a virtually identical model, and it is over a year now. Almost time for cleaning!

    When I was in the submarine force for 22 years, we had lots of nasty things we had to worry about catching fire or blowing up! But ( knock on wood) the only incidents I ever experienced were fires in the clothes dryer!
  4. Cookie

    Cookie .

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    Tell me, how do I clean mine out? What needs to be done. I got a regular one, not a stacker. By the way, my paint in the inside is wearing off, and I can see the steel, the bare metal, is this of some importance, mine is 5 years old.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,947
    Location:
    New England
    Once the baked enamel coating starts to crack or chip out, you can get snags in your clothing from the rough edges. Not a good sign at 5-years. Some of them have SS, and thus no enamel on them, a worthwhile upgrade. Take things like jeans with metal buttons, and turn them inside out. Depending on the model, on some, a couple of screws and you can take the front cover off. Then, you can see most everywhere and use a brush or vacuum to clean things up. On my old one, the idler rollers used plain bronze bearings. the one near the burner would get all of the oil burned out of it. A drop or two of oil on the bearing material can make that one last years longer. You can also adjust their position to keep slop out of the drum, which makes it run quieter and the bearings and belt last longer. They're fairly inexpensive, so you could also just replace it.

    On the duct, first thing is try to use smooth walled stuff. Don't think of using the plastic corregated stuff. You'll end up with lots of lint, slower air movement, and longer drying times plus, with the lint, a bigger ignition chance.

    An air compressor can blow out a lot of loose crud in the duct. I installed a new dryer recently, and did this. I didn't get a whole bunch of stuff out, but it was worthwhile.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Go on line to an appliance forum to find out how to remove the panel...usually access to most parts of the dryer will be through the front.

    There are service manuals, and some diligent googling may turn them up for your model.
  7. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    You can buy a dryer vent brush which is a cylindrical brush on a long (like 10 feet) flexible rod. I move my dryer out of the way to access the vent pipe then run the dryer brush down the vent tube. In my case, I can get to the middle part of the run from the unfinished part of my basement so I take the tube apart there and run the brush from that point to the vent termination on the outside of the house. Surprising how much lint you can get out.

    A nice side benefit is that if your duct is pretty full of lint, cleaning it out will also speed up drying time. In my previous house, I called out a tech to find out why clothes weren't getting dry. The culprit was dryer ductwork nearly full of lint. Fortunately did not have a fire, but sure could have.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,534
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    IT has been decades since I have had a gas dryer, but all the ones I have had, had a thermal switch to shut it off it the temperature rises because of poor venting. One of my customers did not clean the lint filter, and her switch opened. It was a "one time" switch that required replacement rather than resetting.
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