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Sing the Song Now - Seven Ways To Kill Your Dryer!

Sing the Song Now - Seven Ways To Kill Your Dryer!

One of the most dangerous appliances in the house is the dryer.  Not maintained, or incorrectly vented, it can burn the house down!  And they do, tens of thousands of times a year in this country.

Can I introduce you to seven ways to kill your dryer?

In home inspector classes, we learn a lot of mumbo jumbo (sometimes it's jumbo mumbo).  Actually it is usually pretty good information!

As regards dryers we learn things like:  a dryer vent should extend no more than 25' vertically or horizontally from a dryer.  And for every 90 degree turn, 5' should be reduced from that 25'.  And 3' should be reduced for each 45 degree turn.  So, if a dryer vent has two 90 degree turns, its vent should not extend more than 15'.

AND THE MORE TURNS THERE ARE INCREASES THE CHANCE FOR CLOGGING.

To properly understand today's post, you have to be familiar with Paul Simon's song, "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover."  It's best to sing along as you read this post.  And I paraphrase:

I said it's really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore I hope my meaning won't be lost or misconstrued
So I repeat myself, at the risk of being crude
There are at least seven ways to kill your dryer, seven ways to kill your dryer...

 

Just slip out the back, Jack

 

 

 

 

And make a new plan, Stan

 

 

 

 

No need to be coy, Roy

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                Just get yourself free!

 

 

 

Hop on the bus, Gus,
don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the grill, to me, and get yourself free

Just drop off the grill, to me, and get yourself free...

YOU SANG THE SONG, DIDN'T YOU!

Yes, these photos are all from the same dryer at one house!  Including the photo on the left!!  I told my client the dryer would only be tested for one minute, because I wanted to obey the first two rules of home inspections:

Rule #1 - Don't burn the house down, and
Rule #2 - Pay real close attention to Rule #1.

She agreed!  Thank goodness...

Now, if we employ vent footage less turns rule of thumb on this dryer, let's see.  The vent tubing is 26 or 27' or so.  There are six 90s and one 45 turn, plus the mess behind the dryer, um, calculating -- this dryer vent should terminate 6 feet INSIDE the dryer!  Yep, that's it!

Give or take...

My recommendation:  the dryer vent is crucially important to the safe functioning of the dryer.  It really is true.  Look around, especially at the exterior opening, and make sure things look safe.  If they do not, maybe the seller has some 'splainin' to do...

Oh, and don't put a grill over the dryer vent!

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 71 commentsJay Markanich • November 24 2018 11:43AM

Comments

Great post, Jay. I have my dryer vents professionally cleaned out annually (there's just the two of us). But I can't tell you how often I meet with clients who have never cleaned their vents, who have families with lots of laundry and have lived in their houses for years! Boggles the mind. Not sure I understand why people don't get this is dangerous.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing!!!

The dryer vent is crucially important to the safe functioning of the dryer.  It really is true.  Look around, especially at the exterior opening, and make sure things look safe.  If they do not, maybe the seller has some 'splainin' to do...

Oh, and don't put a grill over the dryer vent!

Posted by Sham Reddy CRS, CRS (H E R Realty, Dayton, OH) 7 months ago

Nina - people don't understand how dangerous the dryer can be if vents aren't cleaned and they overheat.  Many thousands of house fires happen every year because of neglect.

Sham - even more of a problem is when the vent opening is 200' feet from view on top of a high, steep roof.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

I had a friend that had the lint catch on fire.  He was lucky to be home at the time

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) 7 months ago

William - I've seen videos on how easily dryer lint catches fire and it's quick, quick!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Good morning Jay. People pay so little attention to their dryer venting, until it is too late! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) 7 months ago

Mayhap, Wayne!  Hopefully not too, too late!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Good morning Jay, I don’t understand why heavy truck flexible exhaust pipe is not used for driers! It is designed to handle very high temps! I don’t know how hot a lint fire is , but I’m guessing it is not near as hot as current diesel exhaust temps 

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) 7 months ago

I don't know how hot all that is either, Tom, but hot enough to cause a fire is hot enough to cause a fire!  No letto vent cloggo.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Sooooo glad you "Splained this one !  Soooo many "violations" in this area we see on inspections !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 7 months ago

Thank you very much, Jay, for sharing your experience and your advice. I will schedule a February reblog.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) 7 months ago

You've outdone yourself with this one Jay!!!! And I did sing along as I read it! I wonder how many fires are started each year because of clogged vents?

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 7 months ago

S&D - yes, often those vents are poorly done and when homeowners alter them, like in this house, they can be set ups for problems.

Roy - well, thanks!  I can't remember the last time I reblogged anything, but surely I would not have a list waiting extending out to February!

So, what's your point, Kathy?  I mean, um, of course you sang!  Oh, uh, I'm glad you enjoyed it but also found it instructive!  Some years as many as 50,000 are reported to the fire department.  You have to wonder how many happen that are not reported.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Jay, I asked that question because if the pipe is not touching anything extremely flammable, a fire should be contained in the pipe. In the old days before all the emission control I have seen trucks at night going down road with fire coming out of the stack. I have even seen on the latest vehicles where the exhaust gas is so hot, that garbage trucks have set leaves overhead on fire at stop signs. All that heat does not affect the pipes. It seems if exhaust flex pipe were properly installed, itwould be safer that regular vent pipe.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) 7 months ago

Tom - and it's a good question!  The fire starts where it starts.  Often the back up is all the way to the dryer itself and it is the machine that lights up from overheating and/or fire!  I have heard not to park a hot car over a pile of leaves as the catalytic converter can cause a fire!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

OMG!  I thought these were examples from several different sites, then I read it was from one house!  What a mess.  Needless to say, someone didn't give this layout much upfront planning.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) 7 months ago

They changed their dryer location, Stephen.  What you see is homeowner ingenuity, so to speak.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

OMG, that's too much.  And yes, yes I did sing it. LOL  My husband and I are currently exploring house plans for our next and final "aging in place" home.  Okay not final because we'll have a final resting place someday too.  But dryer on a outside wall is a must for me in the next house.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) 7 months ago

Tammy - so often on new construction I see the dryer vent exiting through the roof, not only making it hard to see but get to to clean.  Not smart.  It's best on a wall, even if it's high.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

                   

                                      Thank you, Jay. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 7 months ago

Thank you Kathy!  So, you enjoyed it?  Says he, with a  ; >)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich I've seen horrible fires caused by dryers that were not maintained properly....lint screens not cleaned off after each use.... and overheated dryers.... saw a multifamily gutted as a result.

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 7 months ago

We recently had a dryer fire up the road, such important advice Jay Markanich 

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) 7 months ago

I watched a program the other day where the dryer vented into the house! The result was a damp state throughout with sprinkles of mold & mildew! Do this right or it will do you! Good one jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) 7 months ago

What a mess! Mine is on an outside wall but the lint if not cleaned off, ends up on my outside steps. Time to clean it up.

Posted by Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson, Glad to be of Service (Century 21 Doug Anderson) 7 months ago

Great post Jay. I know that we never think of the dryer. These are great examples of what to look for.

Posted by Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR, Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations (WestUSA Realty) 7 months ago

Jay, that was quite an elaborate run there. I'm always fascinated to see what people come up with. Horrified might be a better word. 

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) 7 months ago

Good morning Jay Markanich,

So glad to see this post featured and Kathy Streib included it in her "Ah-Ha" moments for the week! Dryer vents not properly installed is something a buyer must pay attention to when purchasing a home. I can't believe anyone would put a grill over the dryer vent..I've never seen this...just plain stupid!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) 7 months ago

I see waaay too many of those grills on the outside, whoever made those babies should be whipped with a wet noodle!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) 7 months ago

PS.... nice post!

 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) 7 months ago

Fun way to get your point across, Jay!  Thanks for the post.  

Posted by Carol Williams, Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager (Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals.) 7 months ago

Thanks for such an informative blog on dryer vents, and entertaining to boot. You taught most of us about the twists and turns a dryer vent should and should not take.

Posted by Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty, 601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell (Front Gate Real Estate) 7 months ago

Barbara - when I inspect condos I always ask where the dryer vents and who is responsible to clean it.  Nobody ever knows!

Scott - they happen so often!  And I like the photo of the New Hampshire greenery in the background!

Richie - principles have to be obeyed.  Mother Nature will enforce her codes with impunity.  Just look at her!  Impunity I tell you!

Eva - accessible is good!  And makes life easy.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Thank you.  Richard.  That seller gave a lot of object lessons with just one dryer vent!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Mike - people will never run out of ingenuity and ignorance.

Dorie - grills are very popular because people see them as a way of controlling birds.  They do!  And they do other stuff too...

They work great on bath vents, Fred!  And that guy looks just like Don Hester!

Carol - I often use silliness to teach a point, especially when silliness is presented me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Pat - instruction is the idea!  I try to put out instructive posts.  I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Hello Jay - very clever, well-written and most informative. Well-deserved featured post too.

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 7 months ago

Glad to see that Kathy featured this in her weekly A-ha Moments.  I need to get my dryer vent situation evaluated and cleaned.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) 7 months ago

Thanks Michael.  We try, we really try...

Chris Ann - and how many times have you heard me bloviate about the dryer vent?  I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.  See my Mother Nature comment above.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Good afternoon Jay - very important safety precautions.  By the way I never leave the dryer one unless I am there.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 7 months ago

Thanks Grant.  Once we were leaving the house and I turned off the dryer.  My wife said the clothes needed to dry.  My response was not while we were away!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

That was a super cute and informative post and I did sing the lyrics.

Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) 7 months ago

Great post Jay!  And yes, I did imagine Paul Simon singing as I read.  And then I quickly ran down stairs to double check my dryer vent (all good).

Posted by Trent Dalrymple (248) 854-0625, Allowing Mortgage Professionals to Lend Nationwide (Texana Bank) 7 months ago

I would be disappointed had you not, Jill!

Always good to check, Trent.  Glad you enjoyed it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Thanks for reminding me.  I need to clean my dryer filter.  I've been too busy and distracted lately.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 7 months ago

 What a great way to make a point Re: dryer safety and a song that I am now singing. Set yourself free Lee. Thanks for a great reminder Jay Markanich 

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing this Jay Markanich. Proper dryer venting & it's maintenance is definitely important. This example is just a mess. I am a little impressed they didn't use flex piping...
Bruce

 

Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) 7 months ago

I love that song! and the post was great too!!!  I tell people all the time never leave your clothes dryer running if you arent going to be at home!

Dont need to be coy Roy!

Posted by Debra Leisek ( Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska) 7 months ago

Anytime, Myrl!

Margaret - anything to be instructive!

Bruce - with this sort of thing I often see the white plastic venting.  A big no no.

It's best to be home when the dryer is running, Debra.  One never knows!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

I did indeed sing along! This is a great reminder about the importance of having a dryer hose that is as straight as possible.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) 7 months ago

Thanks Kat.  It's a great reminder that the dryer is a dangerous appliance.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

an excellent reminder... and I particularly like the white plastic junction box at the right that was originally designed to open up the venting into the room to help heat the room... remember those?

and, yes.... I sang the song... (in my head).

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) 7 months ago

Hey Mr. A!  Yes!  I see them often and they are an exceptionally bad idea.  As the post says, they were the new plan.  Not!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Jay, I sang the song and now I can't get it out of my head!  Wonderful post.

Posted by Gordon Crawford, Your Morris County Specialist! (Gordon Crawford Home Selling Team) 7 months ago

Yesw I did sing along with everyone and for the 7 ways I will sleep on it tonight.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) 7 months ago

Hi Jay, I love this song, and you have a really informative post, thanks for sharing this!

Posted by Elisa Uribe Realtor #01427070, California Homes for Sale in the East Bay (Golden Gate Sotheby's International) 7 months ago

I'd say I'm sorry, Gordon, but obviously that was my evil intent.

Joe - rest well!

Thanks Elisa.  Stop by again!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Obviously the architect put the dryer in a bad location or the installation could have been better worked out.  Is there a way to get a fan at the exterior to suck the stuff out??

Posted by John Henry, Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design (John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc.) 7 months ago

John - this is the classic case of a homeowner wanting the dryer in a different location and trying to make it happen.  So necessarily the dryer vent is the long and winding road!  As to the fan to draw out lint, as you say, I have never seen one and expect it would goop up with lint pretty fast.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

excellent post, I normally clean the lint filter after each use.

Posted by Ron Aguilar, Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995 (Continental Mortgage) 7 months ago

Thanks Ron!  That filter is inside the dryer, and only captures about 80% of the lint.  The build up happens elsewhere, like at the outside opening as is shown in the post.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

I sang it too, to the dogs disdain. May have hurt his ears a bit. Just because the dryer is a heavy duty doesn't mean one should put 40 lbs. load of towels in and on high heat for an hour or longer. Neighbor laughed one day when i was using the dry vac to clean the vent hose. just too easy to clean and only takes couple minutes. Regular vacuum with hose attachment works great on inside lint trap area also. 

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) 7 months ago

Catchy headline!  And good reminder.  Doing this tonight!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) 7 months ago

These are items that only need yearly attention, and yet they are put off for much longer.  

Posted by Kevin Mackessy, Dedicated. Qualified. Local. (Blue Olive Properties, LLC) 7 months ago

Theresa - common sense should rule with dryers!  Your points are good.

Be sure to sing, Mary.  It makes it go quickly!

Kevin - with many in the family it may be more than once a year!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Yes, I did sing the song and I have that song stuck in my head now, thank you. LOL

Great information Jay!

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 7 months ago

That was my evil goal all along, Sharon.  Sing it all day!

And thanks, glad you liked the information!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 7 months ago

Great advice and great song!

Posted by Anthony Kirlew, Helping You Make Fiscally Sound Choices (Keller Williams Legacy One Realty) 6 months ago

I'm glad you liked the blog, Anthony, and you can thank Paul Simon for the song!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 6 months ago

Fabulous post Jay! I like rule number 2.

What's your thinking about the new homes that are constructed with the vent pipe run vertically venting on the roof? We ran into one recently where the vent door was clogged where the moisture could no longer exit and was backing up into the attic space and had totally rotted out the plywood surrounding it. With support just being held in place with the shingles, I would hate to be the one who happened to step on the roof in that area. 

Posted by Donald A. Masters (Master Home & Building Inspections, LLC) 5 months ago

Thanks Donald.  The venting through the roof phenomenon has been going on for over 20 years in this area.  I was an immediate opponent.  And vertical used to be considered bad practice and now it's normal!

And I have many thermal images of dryer vents clogged and bleeding heat, and lint, into the attic space.  It's very dangerous.

And I've had many blogs on this, not surprisingly.

Here are a couple of them:

https://activerain.com/blogsview/4874522/who-is-responsible-to-clean-the-dryer-vent-in-a-condo-

https://activerain.com/blogsview/3529492/a-dryer-vent-through-the-roof-is-a-very-dangerous-thing

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 5 months ago

Dryer lint screens are not something some people consider a regular part of cleaning...but should.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 4 months ago

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