Dryer vents are those innocent looking tubes that run from the dryer to a vent cover on the outside of the house. Their job is to remove hot, moist air from the dryer and release it into the atmosphere. But dryer vents often become clogged with lint and when they do they slow down the drying process and create a serious fire hazard. The relative dangers of this fire hazard are often magnified several times in apartment buildings with laundry rooms and condo buildings where many or most residents have their own dryers. Because of this it’s imperative that apartment owners and condo boards see to it that dryer vent cleaning becomes a regular part of building maintenance.
The Urgent Need for Vent Cleaning
Each year more than 15,000 house fires in the US are caused by clogged dryer vents. Most people don’t have more than a passing awareness that they even have a dryer vent until it bursts into flames and puts everyone’s lives at risk. Because of the sheer number of people involved the risk is even greater when it comes to apartment buildings and condominiums. A vent fire in such a structure could be catastrophic. But just how do dryer vents get clogged in the first place and what can be done about it?
The Reasons Dry Vents Get Clogged
There are a number of factors that can contribute to a clogged dryer vent.
- Not cleaning the lint trap - If the lint trap isn’t cleaned after each use it won’t do its job and lint will pass into and accumulate in the vent. This is one of the most common causes of clogged dryer vents.
- Items falling into the lint trap - Many dryers have lint traps that are accessed through the top of the machine. Many people have a habit of emptying the contents of their pockets onto the top of the washer and dryer. Some of these items find their way into the lint trap, get sucked into the dryer vent and become the foundation of a major clog.
- Neglect- Regardless of whether you practice perfect dryer vent etiquette or not the vent is still going to wind up clogged and present a fire hazard if it isn’t the focus of regular maintenance. For this reason dryer vent cleaning is crucial.
The Particular Risk to Condos and Apartments
People who own or live in apartments and condominiums are often in grave danger without even realizing it. In many cases, especially in older buildings, tenants or condo owners may share a dryer vent. This presents a number of issues.
- First, there is two or three times as much lint going into the vent as there would be if the vent were dedicated to a single unit. This means clogs can develop quickly. Where it might take a year or more for a vent with one user to develop a clog it might only take a few months if several units share the same vent.
- Second, even if one or more of the residents is both aware that they share a dryer vent and aware of the dangers they pose they may simply assume one of the others who share the vent are taking care of the problem.
- Third, people who live in condos often assume that the condo board handles this type of thing (dryer vent cleaning). The reality is that sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t.
- Fourth, , something called “money” often gets in the way when it comes to condos. In a situation where a dryer vent is shared one owner may object to paying for vent cleaning, claiming they shouldn’t have to because they never use their dryer. Others may insist costs be shared evenly. Disputes arise, nothing gets done, a dryer vent fire ensues.
As you can see there are a lot of potential problems that can arise when more than one tenant or condo owner shares a dryer vent. The best way to alleviate problems caused by this common usage is communication. Talk to your neighbors. Talk to the condo association. Learn what the policy is for vent cleaning. If there isn’t one insist the issue be put on the agenda of the next meeting of the condo association.
The Laundry Room
Apartment renters often face a different kind of problem. The laundry room. The common laundry room can be a big convenience but at the same time the dryer vents emanating from the laundry room pose a potential fire risk to everyone who lives in the building. For your own safety it is important that you find out if the landlord has the dryer vent cleaned regularly. They should. Just like there should be someone conducting regular air duct cleaning in Westminster apartment buildings.
Symptoms of a Clogged Dryer Vent
The following are some of the most common symptoms that something may be amiss in your dryer vent.
- The clothes take an unusually long time to dry. Sometimes not drying entirely.
- When clothes emerge from the dryer they are unusually hot
- The laundry room itself gets very hot while the clothes are drying.
- You notice lint in various places around the laundry room.
If you notice any of these symptoms it’s time to call Steve’s and have our highly trained technicians in to conduct a thorough vent cleaning. If you have to ask the landlord to do it, ask them. If you need to bring it up to the condo board, bring it up.
Dryer vent fires are no joke. Talk to the pros at Steve’s about fast, effective dryer vent cleaning.