Did you know that one of the most frequent causes of fires is the combustion of lint buildup inside of dryer vent hoses? As an insurance agent, I see all the statistics but it is REAL EXPERIENCE that truly catches ones attention. I have personally seen several fires occur in nice, well maintained, superbly constructed homes simply due to one little mistake: using the wrong dryer vent or not cleaning the vent at least once a year. If you have no idea what I am talking about, just look at the back of your clothes dryer. It has one of these sticking out of the back:
Thanks to Appliance Repair Guide for the pic. They have good information on how to install or change your vent hose here: APPLIANCE REPAIR GUIDE “What’s so bad about the flexible tubes,” you ask? Well for starters, the plastic is a big “no-no” because things get HOT in there and lint easily ignites. If you have ever gone camping perhaps you have taken dryer lint with you as kindling for your campfire. If you have, you know that it burns quickly and easily. Sticking with the whole campsite example, any self respecting middle-school-aged boy will tell you from experience that when you throw a petroleum based product into a campfire–say for example, styrofoam cups, plastic bags, or your duplicate GI Joe action figures (sure wish I hadn’t burned those up now) they all do the same thing: they melt. That is essentially what these hoses do when exposed to high heat.
The flexible foil tubes are not too much better. While they withstand more heat, they sag in a ridiculous way. See example below. Do you see the low point of those sags? That’s where lint builds up.
A better bet is a flexible tube made out of more rigid metal rings that does not as easily sag, but the BEST option is a straight, aluminum pipe like seen above.
So now you know the best and worst systems. But even the best system can fail if not properly maintained, so how often do you clean your vent hose? You have NEVER cleaned it? Stop reading, go home and clean it immediately! Your house is probably on fire as we speak! OK, so maybe your house is not technically on fire this very moment, but at least you now have a glimpse into the paranoid mind of an insurance agent. And hopefully I’ve scared you just a LITTLE bit. When you do clean out your vent hose, you will see something like this:
Image picture lint …I know, gross right? That is the lint accumulation of just 6 months. So now that you see how important it is to clean these little babies at least once a year you probably have it on your weekend to do list right? Well if you’ve got the vent hose opened up anyway, you might as well go all the way and replace it using the safest materials!
And there you have it: One newly installed, safer vent system. And if you are worried about cost, don’t be, Each 2-3′ piece of aluminum pipe is less than $4 and clamps are about $1.75 and everything is available at your local home improvement store! So this Valentines Day, show that special person you care enough about their safety that you will voluntarily clean and/or replace their dryer vents. Although I would still recommend flowers as well. Lint is not very romantic…