Dryers, chimneys, roof flashing, and critter prevention on the ‘7 things to do now’ list

A popular new customer-focused website, SafeBee, has a relevant article entitled, “7 Things To Do Now To Make Your Home Safer For The Summer: Take advantage of spring weather and longer days to hazard-proof your house” and four of those things [noted in bold below] are of interest to the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

Here’s Paul Hope’s list of recommendations, as he ranks them.

1. Put your AC to the test
2. Show ceiling fans some love
3. Get the lint out. “SafeBee’s take: Even if you clean the lint tray in your clothes dryer religiously, lint will still accumulate in the vent hose, blocking the flow of air and creating a serious fire hazard. In fact, the majority of clothes-dryer related fires are caused by improper cleaning, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends cleaning dryer vents and exhaust ducts regularly. Spring is a great time to do one of these periodic checks, because you’ll need to go outdoors. While the dryer is running, look at the vent from the outside to make sure air is flowing from the exhaust. If it’s not, turn off the dryer, disconnect the vent and use a lint snake or brush — you can buy one at your local hardware store — to scrape out the lint. Don’t forget to reattach the vent before you use the dryer again.”

CSIA’s take: Overall, we agree with the advice from SafeBee. The fire threat of a clothes dryer is real. As we reported on CSIA’s dryer exhaust consumer website, dryersafety.org, there were over 5,000 reported clothes dryer fires reported annually by the CPSC in 2012, the most recent stats available. And experts believe that the number is drastically under-reported. Many homeowners are unaware that they have had a dryer-related fire.

Removal of lint after each load of clothes has dried is a must. So is checking the air flow. But disconnecting the vent and using a brush by yourself is not the most ideal DIY project, especially if you’ve never had your dryer exhaust system examined by an expert. That’s where CSIA comes in. We have more than 300 professionals that carry the CSIA C-DET credential. [Learn more about what goes into that credential.] They use special air-speed velocity devices that measure for optimal output. Not only do they know how to get lint out, they can tell if the ductwork is broken or has issues that impact performance.

The air flow velic
Testing air flow velocity is a key way to understand whether clothes dryers are optimally performing.

4. Sweep the chimney. “SafeBee’s take: When it’s time to shut down your fireplace for the season, don’t stop with simply clearing soot and ashes out of the grate. Spring is the perfect time to have your chimney professionally serviced and swept, which the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends doing yearly. It can be tempting to go ahead and build a fire as soon as the first cold spell hits in the fall, without waiting to have the chimney cleaned, but that can be dangerous. Having it swept now guarantees that you can safely use your fireplace as soon as you want to. Another good reason to spring clean your chimney: According to CSIA, build up of creosote, a byproduct of woodburning, can smell really awful, especially in summer when humidity is high and the AC is running. Cleaning may not solve the problem completely, but will help tremendously. (If your fireplace is still smelly, the CSIA recommends trying a commercial chimney deodorant, baking soda or even kitty litter.)”

CSIA’s take: We appreciate the recommendation and agree wholeheartedly. If you want to hire a qualified professional to inspect, simply use our free website locator. Or if you just want to review frequently asked questions on csia.org, you can read and watch videos here.

5. Look up on the housetop. “SafeBee’s take: Winter weather can wreak havoc on roofs. Damage can range from torn or shifted shingles to exposed flashing around windows, doors or chimneys. These are things you’ll want to have repaired before a serious summer rain sets in, so one of your spring tasks should be to inspect your roof.” 

CSIA’s take: We agree, and have covered issues related to rain intrusion in our informative post, “Water and Your Masonry Chimney.” Also, check out a very recently updated blog post on the topic, “Rain, water, and common chimney issues in #Spring.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 4.05.48 PM
Hopefully you’ve already inspected what damage Old Man Winter left, including chimney issues.

6. Send creepy critters packing. “SafeBee’s take: Winter has a way of drawing in unwanted houseguests, including some that aren’t even related to you. Warm basements and attics are tempting nesting spots for rodents and birds, which can do serious damage and pose safety risks. For example, besides carrying disease birds can build nests in attics, blocking vents or chimneys.” 

CSIA’s take: We agree, and have blogged about the issue before: In “Animal in your Chimney or Dryer Exhaust?”  we detailed the types of critter intrusion, and how a CSIA Certified pro can provide the right solutions (usually with the proper cap.)

7. Eliminate lead.

Hopefully, it’s no longer cold where you live, and you’ve begun to assess the damage caused by winter, including freeze/thaw. If we can help you, please contact us.

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One thought on “Dryers, chimneys, roof flashing, and critter prevention on the ‘7 things to do now’ list

  1. Thanks for the information! I can see what you mean when you say that it’s important to have your chimney cleaned before deciding to light a fire. It seems like all of that soot and anything else that gets stuck up there can be a potential hazard. Getting rid of the smell of built up creosote and other wood burning byproducts seems like another reason to make sure to clean it out. I thought that your tip to use kitty litter to get rid of remaining odors interesting though. Is it better to only use kitty litter that contains baking soda to get rid of remaining odors? I know that there are clay kitty litters that are cheaper, but they don’t seem to be as effective as the brands that contain baking soda.
    http://www.tophatchimney.ca/repairs_and_rebuilding.html

    Like

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