The other day Preston Sandlin did a nice blog about the importance of cleaning dryer vents called "Clean-Me." Visit his blog for additional info and see a pretty cool tool for cleaning metal dryer vents.
Dryer vents are a common item in the home that needs routine maintenance for fire safety. The lint from dryers is very flammable and can build up on the insides of ducts very easily. Especially problematic are the types of dryer ducts that are corrugated or flexible. The worst of these is the white plastic ones that are no longer allowed on dryers due to their high risk of fire. If you have this type of vent pipe on your dryer get it changed now.
Another very common type of dryer vent is the flexible metal foil type vent pipe.
This stuff is essentially foil covered plastic and is only marginally better than its cousin the white flexible plastic duct. The interesting thing about this pipe is that it is "UL Listed" for installation on dryers. This is the main reason we are seeing it installed, and even approved by jurisdictional building inspectors, even though, it is expressly forbidden by the installation instructions of most dryer manufacturers. Maytag does not allow it and here is a picture of what Whirlpool's installation instructions have to say about it:
Keep in mind that in a "pissing match" between "Building Codes" and "Manufacturer's Instructions"---the Manufacturer wins.
PS, for those of you that are new to my blog (or for some other "unexplained" reason have never noticed) all pictures and smiley-face inserts (emoticons) have messages that show up when you point at them with your cursor.
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board