Yearly Chore To Help Prevent Household Hazard

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- As you start your spring cleaning, there's one chore you might not think about, but could be important in preventing a household hazard. Experts say cleaning your dryer vent yearly can help it work efficiently and prevent a dryer fire.

Doing a load of laundry has become a bigger chore than usual for Christi Olson. She said, "Our dryer has been running, we've been having to run multiple cycles in order to dry a load, so I knew that it probably wasn't what it was supposed to be because it shouldn't take that long."

Gary Gallagher with Central Iowa Duct Cleaning says that can be a common problem and why people need to clean the dryer vent. He said, "Performance is the number one thing, waiting on laundry. Energy use is the other thing. It takes twice as much energy with just a 25 percent blockage in a vent. It doubles the time in drying."

In extreme cases, excess lint or a blocked vent can lead to a fire. He said, "Each year there's 3 or 4 in the metro area where the dryer, it's not like the house burns down, but the load inside overheats and it ignites the clothes."

Gallagher has advice to keep your dryer working properly and safely. He said, "The number one safety tip is don't run the dryer when you're sleeping because that's when bad things happen."

You should also clean your lint trap before every load. And, clean your vent once every year, either by a professional or on your own. Gallagher said, "Many homeowners can do it themselves. It depends on the length of the dryer vent and the setup. They can vacuum out the inside of the dryer down where the lint screen is at very easily with an attachment you can buy at the store."

As for Olson, she learned siding was blocking the outside vent and is excited to have it fixed. She said, "First of all, I'll be glad not to spend so much time doing laundry. That's a big plus for me. And, it will just be good to know everything is clear and we don't have to worry about safety issues."

It takes about an hour for Gallagher to clean a dryer and the vent. It costs about $100 for the service. Visit www.stopdryerfires.com for more information.