Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do you have a clothes dryer? You’d better read this…

Lint. Harmless little thing, right?  Not when it comes to your clothes dryer.  Lint build-up causes about 15,000 dryer fires per year in the U.S..

Fortunately, you can easily protect yourself and your family by focusing on a few key areas.

Of course, make sure you clean the lint trap every single time you use the dryer.  This not only lessens the risk of it overheating and causing a fire, but also reduces energy costs and ensures your clothes dry quicker.

The dryer duct, which is a length of tubing that connects your dryer to an exterior wall Sagging Dryer Ductwhere hot air exhaust can be released, must have the air flowing through freely.  If the dryer duct is made of foil or plastic, it can sag over time and trap lint.  This prevents the hot air from escaping, causing your dryer to overheat and wear out prematurely, but even worse -- possibly causing a fire.

Telltale signs are a dryer that doesn’t dry clothes completely after a normal cycle, and heats up too much to the touch, on the outside.  I’ve seen this issue first-hand, and it’s no joke.  To help prevent this possibility, Metal  Dryer DuctI strongly suggest you replace a plastic or foil dryer duct with a metal duct (either rigid or flexible).  In fact, I know the City of Franklin TN began requiring metal dryer ducts in new construction several years ago.   Another advantage to a metal duct: If built-up lint does catch on fire, it’s likely the metal duct will better contain the fire.

Regular maintenance:

Regardless of what kind of dryer duct you have, it should be checked regularly, while the dryer is running, to make sure air is escaping freely.  If it’s not, and you’re handy, unplug the dryer and detach the exhaust duct from the dryer. Use a long brush and vacuum to clean out the inside of the duct as far up as you can.  Don’t forget to re-attach the duct to the dryer when done.

Every month, vacuum inside, behind, and under your dryer. Those “dust bunnies” are there, and are just waiting to multiply and eventually clog the dryer.

If there’s a serious Clogged Dryer Ductblockage in your duct that can’t be remedied by these tips, stop using the dryer and call a reputable air-duct cleaning service asap.  If the duct is clear, but the dryer is heating up too much and not properly drying clothes, call a qualified dryer service technician. But you can likely avoid some, or all, of this extra hassle and expense by performing simple, regular maintenance.

While we’re at it, here are some other tips that I had never thought of, until I started researching for today’s blog:

If you have clothes or rags stained with volatile chemicals (like gas, alcohol, cooking oils, cleaners, etc.), they might still give off vapors that could ignite in the dryer.  Consider washing these items more than once and bypassing the dryer in favor of hanging them on a clothes line.

Make sure the items you place in the dryer won’t cause problems – things like rugs with foam backing, rubber items including athletic shoes, plastics, etc..

Never leave the house while a dryer is running.  My wife has always told me this, and I never listened – but will now!

When you buy your next dryer, consider one with a moisture-sensor rather than a thermostat, which might let a dryer run longer than is needed.

Use dryer sheets?  Several sources say dryer sheets could add a sticky, clogging coating to the lint trap over time, and keep air from getting through, which might cause lint build-up.  If you use dryer sheets, just periodically clean your lint trap with soap, water and a brush. 

The next “tip” sounds a bit extreme, but I’ll mention it, just FYI... 

Some in Google-land suggest you should not use liquid fabric softener on all-cotton clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour, for fear it might rev up the burning speed in these fabrics.

I’m not losing much sleep over this one, personally.  Sounds more like an urban legend.

Speaking of urban legends, whatever happens to those socks that disappear in the laundry?  Well, supposedly, there have been reports of socks sneaking past the dryer lint trap and getting caught inside.  If you’re missing a lot of socks, that could solve the riddle once and for all.

Seriously, though, I hope we all keep a closer eye on our lowly but handy clothes dryers, and continue to keep our homes and families safe.



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Free Child ID Kits provided by David Yates Insurance Agency at WCSA Soccer Picture Day on April 2

Did you know that over 2,000 children are reported missing every day? Quick, could you immediately supply a current picture of your child, if needed? 40% of parents can’t. Do you know your child’s correct weight, eye color, and height? 34% of parents don’t.

When seconds count, rapidly distributing a photo and vital statistics can be the difference between a fast recovery and a prolonged search. Are you prepared?

milk&cop-babyAs part of my community service efforts, I provide to all parents, free of charge, the widely regarded m.i.l.k. (Managing Information on Lost Kids) Digital ID kit.

With it, you can instantly print or send via e-mail your child’s photo and identifying information to proper authorities, and also forward it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which can broadcast it to over 17,600 police departments across the nation.

This digital ID is not only endorsed by the NCMEC, but was designed at the request of NCMEC.

Let's keep our kids safe!I’ll be handing out free Child ID Kits on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at the Williamson County Soccer Association (WCSA) picture day from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.. Look for my booth at the entrance to the indoor soccer arena at 1878 Downs Boulevard, Franklin TN 37064. It’s where teams will have their team pictures taken, starting at 7:30 a.m.

What’s more, I’ll have my digital camera on hand and will offer to take a head-and-shoulders picture of your child(ren), put it on a CD and hand it to you, all within about 2 minutes. You’ll also get a do-it-yourself fingerprinting kit. Everything is free of charge.

I’ve been providing this complimentary service to parents and grandparents for the past 5 years now. Even if your child doesn’t play soccer, you’re welcome to come by. For more details, please call me at 615-778-1816.