Ask The Expert
Hello Mr. Lamoureux,
I think my dryer hose may be clogged. How would I know for sure and how would I clean it if it is?
If it’s been more than a year since you’ve had your exhaust serviced, get it cleaned. There are several tell-tale signs that indicate if your dryer exhaust is obstructed. Look for long drying times of 45 minutes or more, or clothes being hot and wet when finished and the dryer itself being very hot to the touch.
The CSIA – Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends dryer exhausts be professionally inspected and maintained annually. Many fire departments and insurance companies make the same requirements.
In California, dryers used to be placed only in the garage or on the first floor next to an exterior wall. Typically, there was a short, straight exhaust to vent outside and so basically there were no problems. These days, it’s common to find dryers in bedrooms, hall closets and kitchens. That means the exhaust vents are much longer with sharp turns so it’s easier for lint to get stuck and collect inside the vent. With that, you run the risk of dryer fires. If it’s a gas dryer, there’s also the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, dryer exhaust fires are now more widespread than chimney fires. Based on the most current statistics, 15,600 dryer fires occurred in a single year. Dryer exhaust lint ignites on the heating element. It can then burn all of the collected lint in the dryer vent and spread throughout your house.
Hire a qualified cleaning and inspection service to maintain your vents. Don’t take any chances. Along with the vacuum and/or blower, you’ll want them to brush the vents out as well. Many companies offer a before and after air flow test to show you how much of an improvement was made.
Besides the obvious safety concerns, keeping the vents cleaned also saves on energy costs with shorter drying times and the excessive wear and tear of the bearings, heating element and the dryer motor.
My grandfather lives with us and is on a ventilator. My question is what type of generator do you recommend to keep the power on in case of an earthquake or power outage? He has a battery backup but it is only good for one hour.
One of the most popular generators is Generac. It’s a great outdoor home system that is reasonably priced.
Minimally, you would want at least an 8KW generator. It’s not going to light your entire house, but it would handle 10 – 12 circuits. This power the ventilator, heating/air, the refrigerator, television and some lights.
Generac has a UL approved transfer switch so you don’t get feedback and injure a lineman. Many linemen have been killed because of homeowner installed generators. You never want to wire a generator directly to the panel, always go through a transfer switch.
During a loss of power, the generator will automatically fire itself up. They are available in natural gas, diesel or gasoline, whichever you prefer. Personally, I like the natural gas. A plumber can run the gas pipe and hook it up.
Submit your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.