Friday, August 22, 2014

Fire in the dryer

Hey hey! Welcome to the weekend! It’s rainy and dark this morning and I LOVE it. Rainy days make me feel so relaxed – I’d take a couple a week. :)

So today’s post is a brief one but I was surprised when I learned this so I thought I would share it with you all.

A few weeks ago we noticed that every time we dried our clothes they came out of the dryer smelling AWFUL. Like…fire.

I was annoyed that something would be wrong with the dryer considering it’s only a couple years old:

laundry room gray

Yes, the laundry room still isn’t done. We’re the only ones who see it so it’s down on the list. :)

I did some research online to see if it was something we could fix ourselves. We already clean out the lint every time we use it and at least a couple times a year we clean out the duct in the wall that goes outside. (SO important to do that – just do it yourself with a cleaning kit and a wet dry vac if your ductwork is short enough. Before we moved our laundry room ours ran through our garage so we hired out.)

So I couldn't figure out why we would smell fire. More specifically our clothes smelled like we had been sitting by a campfire. I read online that it is usually due to lint catching on fire inside the machine – which totally freaked me out. We stopped drying clothes in it for a few days till our appliance guy could come out and take a look.

To my relief but confusion right away he said it was nothing to worry about – and he asked if we had just painted inside our house. Funny he said that because that’s something I read online but dismissed it because we hadn’t been painting. THEN he asked about our floors – the ones we had just had restained in the family room and kitchen.

I was standing there wondering how in the world he would know we had just done our floors and told him yes and asked why. He explained that any oil-based or petroleum product will react with the gas dryer and cause the kerosene smell. Kerosene – THAT was the smell!

CRAZY. I had no idea. Our dryer is just below the floors that were refinished so that explains it. Funny thing is, when we first had the floors installed years ago our old gas dryer was on the same level as the floors and I don’t remember the clothes smelling like this. Maybe I was avoiding laundry at the time, who knows. ;)

So…if you ever do any work to your home that involves oil-based paint or have floors refinished – look out for that smell. We had aired out the house after the floors were done but it wasn’t enough obviously. I opened a bunch of windows that day and from then on they didn’t smell again – of course!

He said opening windows helps but otherwise you just have to wait till the floors really cure before it will go away. Crazy.

The good thing is that nothing was wrong with the dryer! Bad thing is we still had to pay for a service call. (He gave us a discount since it was so brief.)

Anyway, just thought I would share that little tidbit! If you notice that smell and haven’t had any work done in your home then get it checked out for sure. If you have and notice the smell around that time, it’s most likely from that.

Anyone ever had that happen? Do you all clean out your dryer ducts regularly? It goes a long way to avoiding dryer fires!

28 comments:

  1. If you are working on any DIY project with oil-base varnish, stain, paint, etc don't use your dryer during that period. You are so right - it's an awful smell!

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  2. Yes I got this same message from a friend of mine but never thought to mention it to folks.. She had her kitchen painted with oil paint and even the food in her fridge/freezer smelled funny... weird huh...
    thanks for sharing this as I know it will be helpful to lots of folks..

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  3. Yes, we have noticed it before while painting, it does bring out that "gas" smell but dissipates quickly once dry.

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  4. A few years ago, I went to a quilt retreat and one of the quilters had a dryer fire - she had been cleaning out the filter and the ductwork, but never opened up the dryer front to check for lint under the dryer and around the drum. The worst part was that were some bottles of cleaning supplies and laundry related stuff in the shelving above the dryer.

    Before the FD arrived, those chemicals added an awful smoke & smell to the entire house. The fire & water damage was limited, but not the smell.

    When I got back home, I checked what I had stored up there and quickly removed them to the garage area. I also figured out how to remove the front panel of the dryer to check for lint.

    Liz

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    1. Yes! You definitely need to clean out the inside of the dryer for lint too, along with cleaning out the duct work. Ours has a lint trap on the top and if you squat down and look inside the dryer, you can see the lint built up behind the back of the drum, it has vent holes so you can see through and to the lint. We've tried to take ours apart but we had trouble. But we need to try again because our dryer is no longer drying the clothes as quickly.

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  5. I had a friend just tell me a similar story about having a mechanic come out for her fridge and the fix was so simple she fell silly for having to pay the guy for the visit. They noticed food going bad in their fridge. The freezer was still working so she thought it was strange. The guy told her that the way her fridge works is there is a vent from the freezer to the fridge and that is how the fridge is cooled. She had a bunch of ice blocking the vent so the cold air couldn't get to the fridge. She ended paying $90 for the guy to stand there with a hair dryer and melt/chip out the ice. She was a bit annoyed because if she had know that was all it took she would have done it herself and saved the $90. :)

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  6. happens here all the time any time we paint. the first time I panicked...my house burnt down when I was a little girl so I don't play around...took me a while but figured out it was the dryer burning off the fumes. scary. that's a good tip though to regularly clean out the trap with a vacuum.

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  7. Isn't that crazy? I never knew either until we refinished an old dining table and 6 chairs in our basement last winter and wondered why our clothes smelled horrible all the time. Thankfully some research found us the same answer. Our oven does the same thing (i.e. we just refinished all the trim in our office which is right next to the kitchen and our oven smells distinctly different right now, too). So weird. Glad nothing was wrong with your dryer!

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  8. My family experienced the same thing, we even called the gas company to see if we had a leak somewhere. While waiting for the smell to dissipate we could only use the dryer for 10 minutes at a time. The good thing? I quickly learned that 10 minutes was long enough to shake out the wrinkles and after taking the clothes out I would hang everything up on hangers or lay them out on drying racks. It cut our gas bill in half and have doing laundry this way ever since!

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  9. Last spring we had wood floors installed and stained and not only did the dryer give off that smell, so did the oven. It is very scary. Makes you wonder what you're breathing in.

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  10. Good to know Sarah and glad it wasn't anything serious for you and your family. :-)

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  11. Reminds me of the time we called the fire department because something was "burning" in our house. We couldn't find smoke, but something was definitely burning. They came with lights and siren -- even though I begged them not to, because I didn't think it was a true emergency -- and they searched the whole house from top to bottom. Finally they asked if we were doing dishes. "Um, yes." Then they asked if we used the heated drying cycle. "Um, yes." They asked if they could open the dishwasher. "Sure." They opened it up, and a tupperware lid was melting on the heating element. YEP, that was the smell. MELTING RUBBER. Oh it was sooooo foul. And we felt SO dumb! But they said we were right to call! :-)

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    1. LOL, the same thing happened to us but we lived in an apartment at the time. Since the maintenance people couldn't find anything burning in our apartment they blamed it on someone else's apartment. We didn't figure it out until the next day.

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  12. Thank God it wasn't anything worse and they guy gave you a little discount. Earlier this Summer we were having issues with our old dryer and it was actually getting so hot inside it was melting the elastic on my tops and I was getting so mad. We quit using it, hubby looked into how to fix it, attempted to but it didn't work so we just decided to get a new one and not mess with it since it was obviously a fire hazard!!!! This stuff is really nothing to mess with, I am glad you guys seeked help with yours

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  13. That's crazy! I JUST noticed that smell in our dryer this week and was getting really worried and ready to call in someone to look at ours. But we've been going a good bit of painting so I guess that explains it. Thanks for posting this! It came at the perfect time!

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  14. I had the exact same thing happen to me a couple of years ago! We actually called someone and had them check the gas line to make sure there was no leak and had to pay for the service call. At least I know for next time!
    -Shelley

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  15. Dryers are the number one cause of home fires.I never ever leave mine running when no one is home.
    Washer either because I had one once that had a bad part,that would once in awhile,the water wouldn't turn off and would overflow.Peg Isler~

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  16. Wow...great info to know! And a good reminder that I need to pull my dryer and clean my vents! BTW, I redid my laundry room last year...really "froo-froed" it up and it is ALWAYS being repinned on Pinterest...but one thing I figured out is I tend to keep the laundry washed, folded and put up because my laundry is so "cute" I don't want it all cluttered up. In other words, a "pretty" room is incentive to keep it clean...at least for me! Just a suggestion!

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  17. I am trying to avoid the store-bought dryer sheets, so I have been making my own with an internet recipe that calls for pouring vinegar, water, and a tiny amount of lavender essential oil over small rags or cut-up wash cloths (though any scent you like will work). Each recipe comes with a warning that essential oils are flammable, so I have been staying near the dryer just to be safe :)

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  18. I had my TV room renovated and they sprayed the cabinets using oil paint. Like you, I noticed my clothes out of the dryer smelled liked gas and when I used my gas stove, the smell was very intense like I had a gas leak. I googled it and found it's very common when using paints and stains in the house. My contractor had never heard of it! I ended up drying my clothes briefly, then using air dry. It took almost a week before the smell went away. Just awful!

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  19. Our neighbor in KY burned his house down to ground twice in 3 yrs .due to not cleaning filter after every load. I mean to the ground. The 2nd. time I was coming home from town on Friday night to see flames in air (we lived out in country on twisty road) but not close enough to see where it was coming from, lots of trees to block view. Closer I got the more worried I was as I left dog in house while gone. When I finally got home to see neighbors house gone I was relieved but worried. On top of that his electric power was hooked with ours so my power was out for hours. Had that fixed pretty quick. Pretty scarey as it was in summer, hotter than blazes and poor dog in hot house. I had to sit out on front porch for quite awhile with a scarf over my face since I have asthma and dog was not feeling too well, took her to vet next day. He came over when his house being rebuilt again and hooked hose onto our water without asking. Not the safest or best neighbor to have. Luckily our garage was covered with metal siding. He'd go off on weekends to leave dog/puppies without any food, water or shade in summer. I bought less expensive bag of food so I could feed and water them, moved their tether line to a shadier spot, couldn't stand to watch them suffer. It was almost 100degrees all the time and 100% humidity.
    Since we have a gas dryer I'm glad to know about this info, so glad you were nice to share this info. Happy weekend

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  20. YIKES! That's pretty scary! I don't even know how to do that, so maybe I need one of those kits and a YouTube video (there has to be one) to see how it's done. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm with you, Carol. No clue how to clean the inside of the "crinkled" exhaust hose that runs behind my dryer. It goes thru the floor, and then in the basement where it run under the length of my office, above, and then exits out the side of the house. How in heavens name would I be able to clean that length?? I know dryer lint is very flammable, so I am a stickler about keeping the screen cleaned after every load. Were you able to find anything on YouTube, Carol?

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    2. If you call a service that does it they have the tools that will reach. You can also try a lawn blower or a wet vac to get everything out. We used to have a long run of it and had to call someone to clean it out because of that.

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  21. So funny. I feel like we are living in a parallel universe. I am the person who asked you about the stain of your floors on instagram. We just moved back into our newly renovated house (with our newly stained floors, in beautiful jacobean of course!) and my husband kept asking me to smell the clothes because he thought they smelled funny (I didn't smell anything too weird...but he did). I will forward him on this link! Thank you!

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  22. The same thing happened to me BUT I have an electric dryer and had stained a couple new closet doors. My appliance repair man diagnosed the problem over the phone. :)

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  23. We have that problem any time I touch up our oil based trim. I usually run the dryer (empty) on high for an hour or two with all the windows open, vents on, and it seems to burn off the fumes, so it doesn't linger for days.

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  24. I had a bad smell when I used my electric drier. I bought a $25 lint cleaning tool and when I went to use it, found a can of deck waterseal leaking. Got rid of the can and cleaned up the spillage. Cleaned vents and back in business. No more smell. I kind of felt that the leaking can had something to do with the smell when the drier ran. Thanks for solving my mystery.

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