Blog by Stephanie Twiford

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Laundry Room Fires

Have you seen that Farmers Insurance commercial about laundry room dryer fires?  You know the one, where the professor shows the agents just how flammable dryer lint can be by torching a giant lint ball with a flame thrower.  The lint ball that was removed from the dryer venting system in my daughters rental was bigger then a basketball and just as dangerous as the giant one in the commercial.

My daughter moved to an upstairs duplex apartment in September of last year.  This spring one of her house mates clothes smelled like smoke after taking them out of the dryer.  They called the property management company right away.  The company's maintenance personnel checked it out, then a duct cleaning services was called to clean the 10 feet of dryer venting pipe.  As you can see from the photos it had been a long long time, if ever, since this venting system had been cleaned out.

I am amazed and so thankful that my daughters house didn’t burn down.  I have a much greater appreciation of the importance of inspecting and maintaining clothes dryer exhaust systems.

This is the second apartment in two years she has lived in to have issues with the dryer venting system.  Not a good record for rental owners and property management companies.  “Failure to maintain” is the leading cause of dryer fires.

Today laundry rooms are located almost anywhere in a home.  It’s common to find the dryer installed in a closet or hallway, with a long concealed run of venting pipe.   All too often dryer exhaust systems are installed and never thought of again.

I don’t think many people realize that homeowners failing to clean the dryer venting systems,  account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries annually, according to the US Fire Administration National Fire Data Center.

What can you do? Thoroughly read manufactures' instructions regarding the safe use of their dryers.  Check the outside vent to make sure air is coming out.  If your clothes are taking an extra long time to dry, check the venting system or have a professional check it.  Don't ever turn the dryer on and leave the house or go to bed while its still running.  Clean out the dryer venting system annually.  If you are buying a home make sure your home inspector checks the dryer venting system.  Google clothes dryer safety.  If you are a renter ask the property manager or owner when was the last time the dryer venting system was cleaned.

If you own rental property or are a property manager, please add to your check list: inspect and clean dryer venting systems annually.  Your renters will thank you.

If you would like to discuss home maintenance or Bellingham real estate or have questions about Bellingham real estate contact me, Stephane Twiford at 360-961-0720.

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