Proper maintenance of dryer vents prevents an excess build up of lint that can decrease the efficiency of your dryer as well as being a fire hazard in your home or business. According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 17,000 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year. Some newer dryers have sensors that detect inadequate air flow due to plugged dryer vents and will shut down the dryer completely. So how often should you have your dryer vents cleaned? The answer to this question will depend on multiple factors: The type of material or fabric being dried, the frequency of use and the type and length of the dryer vent. Certain materials and fabrics produce more lint that others. Cotton bath towels are probably some of the highest lint producing items you can put in your clothes dryer, and this should be obvious to most as the lint trap in your clothes dryer becomes full after doing a load of cotton towels. The lint trap captures some but not all the lint. The remaining moist lint travels down and over time accumulates on the dryer vent walls. The heavier the usage of the dryer the quicker the lint accumulates on the dryer vent walls. Dryer vent duct material that is flexible or ribbed will also accumulate lint much faster than smooth, rigid ducting. Sometimes sections of ducting are improperly joined together with screws rather than heat-resistant foil tape, and these screws quickly become a place of accumulation of lint. The final determining factor of how often you should have your dryer vent cleaned is the length of the ducting until it reaches its exhaust point on the outer wall or roof of the building. The longer the dryer vent is, the slower the velocity of the air at its exhaust point which allows the lint to more easily attach to the vent walls. In determining how often you should clean your dryer vent all these factors need to be considered, but as a general rule if your dryer vent is 20 to 30 feet or longer you should consider having it cleaned every year or two, but if it is connected to an outside wall or under 10 feet in length you may be able to go multiple years without any issues. You will want to be observant of the drying time for your dryer as it will increase as the venting becomes plugged. Commercial usage dryers may need to be cleaned every few months or so to avoid fire hazards. Ultimately, it is better to be safe than sorry. If you haven’t had your dryer vent cleaned in some time, have a professional clean it out and take note of how much material is removed as this will be a good indication of how often you should have it cleaned in the future.
The winter of 2019 was an exceptional year for snowfall and cold weather in much of the northern region of the US including the metro Omaha area. The excessive snowfall and cold temperatures created the perfect conditions for ice dams which caused water damage to many homes in the area and as temperatures rose at the onset of spring, so did the floodwaters with the melting snow and rain. Many homeowners have had their basements inundated with water from the flooding. We received many calls for help in mitigating water damage to carpeting. When carpeting has been saturated with water it can develop staining that is called ‘cellulosic browning’.
Cellulosic browning usually originates from the backing of carpet which can have natural fibers. These natural fibers when saturated in water release a dark brown or yellowish substance called ‘taninns’. As the carpeting dries, these tannins wick to the surface of the carpet fibers and leave a stain. Water damaged carpet can also have rust stains, furniture stains and mold stains. Rust is usually one of the easier stains to remove but browning, furniture and mold stains can be more difficult to remove. Rust is removed by applying an acidic rust remover to the affected area and in a matter of minutes the rust will dissolve or can be absorbed into a white cotton towel. Cellulosic browning and mold stains can be removed with oxidizers, mold being the more difficult to remove. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild oxidizer that can be very affective on browning stains. While we use commercial strength products, do-it-yourself homeowners can sometimes have success with 3% hydrogen peroxide if the area is not too large. The product will need to be repeatedly misted with a spay bottle to moisten the carpeting and allowed to dry between applications until the desired result is attained. UV light will also accelerate the process, so if there are certain times of the day that the area is exposed to sunlight, this can increase its effectiveness. Furniture stains can be one of the more difficult stains to remove and require the use of both solvents and oxidizers. Many furniture stains will not come out completely.
Ice and Water Shield is a barrier that some roofing contractors apply to help protect homes from ice and water damage. This underlayment is typically only applied to the first 3 feet from the roof edge. This barrier is very effective at preventing water and ice damage to the home during most winters, but with enough snow and cold temperatures ice dams can develop and the ice can gradually climb the roof and surpass this barrier. Ice can also find its way through the flashing and make a pathway for water to enter into the home. We received a call a couple of days ago from a homeowner who was perplexed because he had water pouring into his home even though he had the ice and water shield barrier on a newer addition to his home. He scheduled ice dam removal with our company after he had established a claim with his homeowners insurance. After we cleared some of the snow from his roof, we discovered that the ice had climbed over 5 feet from the roof edge surpassing the protective barrier. When we removed the ice dams and ice from his roof the leak stopped.
We had an ice dam removal job today. The customer’s gutters were full of ice and ice dams were forming on the edge of his roof. Ice and water were backing up under the shingles and led to water coming into his home. How do we remove ice dams? We use industrial equipment that uses super heated water and steam to safely remove ice dams without damaging the roof or gutters. Ice dams typically form after a snow fall of at least a few inches and very cold temps. Usually the required amount of snow is 6+ inches, but even with a few inches of snow there are areas of a roof that may accumulate more snow through drifting to create an ice dam. Ice dams form as water from melting snow runs down the roof. As the water approaches the coldest part of the roof above the soffit and guttering the water freezes. As long as there is snow melting on the roof this process continues until it builds up enough to create a ridge or ice dam. Water from the melting snow then accumulates and pools up behind the ice dam and as this water refreezes it can seep up under the shingles or siding of a home and begin to leak into the home where it can cause extensive damage. Below is a picture of one of the ice dams we removed yesterday with our diesel powered steam and hot water machine.
In our last blog post we talked about why to clean your air ducts and now we are going to talk about when is the most beneficial time to clean your air ducts. Any time during the year you can get your air ducts cleaned but it is when you are in your home the most would it be best to get the contaminants and debris out of your ducts where the air you breath circulates in. We recommend that you do not wait until spring cleaning to get those ducts clean! Do it during those cold winter months to get the most advantage out of breathing cleaner air inside your home!
Being midwesterners, we all know that winters cause us to be house-ridden the greater part of the winter months. This makes it that much more important to have clean homes to help keep everyone healthy during the cold and flu season. Every surface has contaminants including your air ducts, which is where all the air you breathe circulates in your home! If you have not had your air ducts cleaned in awhile, it is strongly recommended that you do so. If you have allergens, pets or are worried about your heating and air efficiency then cleaning your air ducts could be the answer to those problems. Here is a video of how we clean air ducts:
This video demonstrates the basic technique of chandelier cleaning.