came out from the wall about five inches or so at about a foot above the floor. The height from the floor wasn’t really a problem but the duct sticking out so far into the room certainly was. It was virtually impossible to push the dryer close enough to the wall to be acceptable without crimping the flexible dryer transition hose that joins the dryer and the duct. And this is a potentially dangerous situation that is all too common in laundry rooms throughout the land.
A crimped flexible hose is a perfect situation for lint build up, which in turn can decrease the dryer’s exhaust airflow. These two situations working together can have a most undesirable outcome. Lint is very combustible, as one popular DIY tip recommends: melted paraffin wax, dryer lint and cardboard egg cartons make the ‘best fire starters you ever saw!”
Some folk’s dryers may have the white vinyl wire-bound (spiral) type flexible hoses which are not UL-approved and do not follow most manufacturer specifications and local building codes. Take a peek behind your dryer and check for this type of hose connecting the dryer to the wall, floor or ceiling duct. If you have this type, you might want to think about replacing it with an aluminum flexible duct, or ideally, a rigid metal duct if your situation allows.
While you are at it, clean out the wall ducting and the duct leading into the dryer itself. FEMA reports that the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires is ‘failure to clean’. “A clothes dryer that has to work harder to evacuate lint and moisture can trigger enough heat to cause some dryer components to malfunction and can sometimes produce sparks or even flames. The overheating can sometimes produce enough heat to ignite lint or other nearby combustibles.”¹Heavy stuff, I know. But it’s important.
Here’s an option to consider to help alleviate the crimped hose and let you push the dryer closer to the wall: a recessed vent duct system. There are manufacturers that create these for you or you can make one yourself. The concept is simple. Rather than having the duct protrude from the wall after turning 90º from below, above or beside, a recess is built into the space between the studs of the wall and the duct connection is made within this recess. That the way the dryer can be pushed back to the wall and the recessed area accommodates the dryer hose with no crimping. This allows for full exhaust airflow which pushes any lint that escapes the lint filter through and out of the ducting, reducing the potential for a dangerous situation. Not to mention the extra space you’ll get by moving the dryer back.
If your dryer doesn’t seem to be drying items completely or is taking longer than usual to get things dry the vent may be clogged with lint. It is easy to remove and certainly worth the effort. Dryer fires are not the only result of lint clogged vents. If dryers overheat the thermal fuse can burn out, which can either stop the dryer from running at all, or stop heating. There are also a couple of cycling thermostats and if one of them breaks down it can affect the drying ability.
Clothes dryers have made our lives so much more convenient (especially in the winter time!) but we need to take heed and maintain them properly. Regular cleaning and attention to the condition of the dryer hose will help to ensure proper function over the life of the appliance. (I still love line-dried sheets, though!)
Kheli Mason, The Handy Woman, LLC
With over 20 years experience in Home Maintenance and Repair, Remodeling and Building Inspection, Kheli started the Handy Woman LLC to be ‘not just your average contracting company’, but to also teach people how to take care of their homes by offering do-it-yourself coaching and how-to classes. Along with typical home repair and maintenance services, her focus is to help our elders age-in-place and teach women homeowners how to understand and care for their homes.
For more information please call Kheli @ 303.999.5812 www.thehandywomanllc.com
¹FEMA Topical Fire Research Series, Volume 7, issue 1/January 2007