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Clothes Dryer Fire


Mike Lamb
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In 1998 CPSC published a warning to the general public that flexible dryer exhaust connectors were a fire hazard. They'd done a study over the four years from 1994 through 1997 and had discovered that about 17,000 fires had been caused by lint fires. At the time, the warning had a nice description of an extendable box connector and said to only use a smooth-walled metal connector.

I began writing up flexible vents that year and recommending that owners clean the dryer exhaust all the way from the dryer to terminus.

I recently went back to the CPSC site to find a copy of that original notice and it's been pulled. The only thing they have now is a similar warning showing that it's okay to use a flexible duct but not one of those coil-wound plastic or foil ducts. I think that the manufacturers' lobbyists in Washington probably got to someone who put pressure on them to reduce the severity of their warning.

If anyone has a copy of that original warning and can scan it and shoot it to me, I'd sure appreciate it. I know I've got it somewhere here but I'm not willing to spend two days going through mountains of milk crates full of paper to find one page - at least not when I'm this busy.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I think you have to use flexible semi-rigid metal in alot of cases if you want to push the dryer close to the wall though it's second best to solid metal. The theory is solid and semi-rigid metals will contain or self-extinguish most dryer fires where plastic and foil will get burned through in seconds.

http://www.nfpa.org/assets/files//PDF/D ... tSheet.pdf

I was at an inspection of a new construction home and Sears was there putting in the new dryer. They were using a foil duct. They don't even read their own instructions.

I include this photo in some of my reports.

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This is the dust that was scooped out by hand from my clothes dryer with just the lower panel cover removed. It's that brown pile on the left. Not shown is another smaller pile of dust taken from the 3' long flexible vent pipe. I think I'll remove the drum and vacuum everything.

Marc

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. . . I recently went back to the CPSC site to find a copy of that original notice and it's been pulled. The only thing they have now is a similar warning showing that it's okay to use a flexible duct but not one of those coil-wound plastic or foil ducts. I think that the manufacturers' lobbyists in Washington probably got to someone who put pressure on them to reduce the severity of their warning.. . .

I have little-to-no faith in the objectivity and accuracy of pretty much anything that the CPSC says these days. They lost my confidence when they failed to follow up on the hazards associated with FPE panels.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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True enough, but the CPSC is probably held hostage to the administration of the moment take on government involvement in private industry.

This is tending dangerously toward political discussion, but the period of 2000-2008 wasn't exactly one of enlightened government intervention in private industry.

My own dryer duct is the aluminum flexible type, with a "space saver" box on the back of the dryer so I can push it closer to the wall.

I check it 3 or 4 times a year. It's always clean. It doesn't collect lint in any amount that looks significant; there's always a little in the corners of the space saver box, but none in the duct.

The reason I like the flex aluminum is I can take it apart and reassemble it in about 12 seconds.

So, I still always recommend smooth walled metal, but I use the flex aluminum in my own life.

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True enough, but the CPSC is probably held hostage to the administration of the moment take on government involvement in private industry.

This is tending dangerously toward political discussion, but the period of 2000-2008 wasn't exactly one of enlightened government intervention in private industry.. . .

I didn't like them during Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, or Bush II. And, so far, I don't like them during Obama. I'm a bipartisan don't-liker.

I suppose they serve a function, though. Gotta protect kids from dangerous hoodies.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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For the last few years, I've read every dryer manual that was available at the job. All have stated not to use foil or plastic flexible vents: a small percentage of instruction manuals don't recommend it but an overwhelming majority emphatically do not allow it.

I think I've seen two dryers hooked up to solid metal vents. I can't imagine how they get those things hooked up!

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Since I used to install a lot of snap lock pipe when I installed ductwork I had no problem putting solid metal vent on mine.

You have to set your dryer in places, take your measurements, cut your pipe, and put the elbows on and tape it up good.

Than it depends on the set up of your dryer and vent. you have to decide which one of the connection is going to be the easies one to make last, the one at the dryer or the vent in the wall.

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  • 1 month later...

Spent time in Fort Myers playing golf etc. One rainy day we(brother and myself) tried to solve a ineffective dryer. For 15 years it has been exhausting?? thru the roof vent.

We pulled the dryer out of its space.

Took off the metal venting.

Shoved a "roto rooter type brush" up the remainig vent.

It got stuck--we ended up removing the remaining vent to retrieve the

brush.

We were able to clean the metal pipe. Ended up with a grocery bag

full of lint. Let me repeat that!! a friggin grocery bag full

of very flamable lint.

We should know better!!

Dryer works great now.

Cleaning dryer vents is now a strong recommendation to all my clients.[:-banghea

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From my personal experience, I have a dryer vent run of about 17 feet with a 90 degree bend just below the wall vent hook-up. The vent is solid metal and clogs up in less than 2 years time. Seems that it has more to do with vent design and length of run than anything else. I don't know why the dryer location was situated so far from an outside wall when the home was built. I learned something from that alone.

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Thread Drift: When I was 18 I joined the Air Force and found myself living in a dorm with a laundry room down the hall. Once after doing laundry I discovered I had left a gold chain in my pocket and it was gone. While searching the laundry room, I shook / tilted the dryer I had used and heard something. I removed the rear panel cover and found something like $20 in coins and my gold chain inside. That was a lot of money to me at the time and I felt I hit the jack pot. I then removed the covers from the other dryers, but found nothing. It was just that one dryer. So for the next 2 ½ years every month or two I would get the coins from that one dryer. Hey it was party money – but back then it was all party money.

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I also own a Barbershop (beside the Base eh?) never even thought of the hair building up in the dryer, until the circuit blew. I tore that sucker down to screws and rubber. I now clean that twice a year and replace the steel braided Washing Machine hoses every other year (yep had one blow on me too, thankfuly the concrete guy did his job)

shhh I wasnt here.....back to my books.....

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