Dryer Vents and Fire Safety


As clothing tumbles dry airborne water vapors get forced out of the dryer vent to the exterior of the home. Most clothing dryers have a gas burner or are operated by electricity. Both types of dryers push warm air against the tumbling clothes. This tumbling and hot air circulation evaporates the water that is left in the load of laundry.

The clothes dryer exhaust that ejects the moist hot air can be an area of concern if it is not properly secured, connected or maintained. The metal dryer discharge pipe should be firmly connected to the housing that extends to the exterior of the home. If it is not properly connected hot steam and moisture can cause damage inside the home in the form of mold and wood rot damages.

The dryer discharge should not be obstructed. A clogged or obstructed dryer discharger can be a fire hazard. Often the flexible dryer pipe is kinked or bent. The pipe must remain in good condition to properly exhaust the clothes dryer. Rigid vent piping is much more preferable then flexible dryer vent. Flexible dryer venting pipes have ridges which cause friction inside the pipe. Friction can cause lint to build up which is a fire hazard. Opt for the rigid dryer vent pipe, the pipe is usually aluminum and very easy to piece together (screws are not allowed) clean dryer duct.

Lint build up is the major cause of dryer fires in the United states. Lint is very flammable and should not be left to build up inside the dryer vent discharge pipe. However most dryer fires are caused by the dryer overheating caused by excess heat that occurs with an obstructed venting pipe. As the vent pipe becomes more constricted heat builds up in the dryer motor which can lead to mechanical failure and sparking. The lint that is obstructing the dryer vent pipe and the excess lint that can not leave the dryer can ignite.

According to recent data dryer fires are more common then most people realize. There are over 15000 dryer fires in the United states each year according to the National Fire Protection Agency.

Some quick tips to avoid dryer fires:

– Use ridged dryer ventilation pipe
– Avoid flexible dryer venting pipes
– Limit the length of the dryer discharge pipe to under twenty feet.
– Limit the number of elbow connections to not more then two (in 20 foot run)
– Vent the dryer to the exterior and not under a deck, porch, window well or interior space
– Do not install a screen at the dryer vent exhaust end