Company Blog

Why are the clothes taking so long to dry?

Your dryer vent is a similar system to your fireplace chimney or furnace flue.  Its purpose is to vent heat and lint from the clothes dryer. It needs regular maintenance to properly function…just like your chimney and furnace.  If it isn’t maintained, the clothes dryer may become a serious fire hazard…just like your chimney or furnace.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger……

Many installers don’t know how to install or even realize that a dryer vent should be installed to specific safety standards.   Many of the standards are outlined in the User Guide. For example, the total length of the run for the vent should not exceed 25 feet.  And every 90-degree turn counts for 5 feet. The pipe itself must be at least 4”. A lightweight flexible pipe should only be used as a connector and not for the main vent run.  

There are many dryer vent related fires that cause loss of life and property each year.  However, they are preventable with proper installation, use, and maintenance of clothes dryers and their venting systems.  The majority of these fires were caused by simple failure to clean the dryer vent on a regular basis.

The Problems….

Many homeowners incorrectly think that routinely emptying the lint trap is all it takes for a clean dryer vent.  Not so…..

Your clothes dryer may not have been installed correctly.  An inspection by a qualified professional can give you peace of mind as to whether your appliance has been installed properly.  

Please read the complete User Guide from your dryer manufacturer.  Please give special attention to the parts about maintenance and use. There should be specific maintenance instructions for each model.  Get to know your appliance, and follow instructions and schedule regular maintenance to ensure proper operation.

Check out the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Dryer Safety Tips Brochure.

How do you know if you need maintenance?

Have you noticed a change in your dryer’s performance?   It’s likely a dryer vent problem. Things to notice:

  • A normal load of clothes takes more than one cycle to dry completely.
  • The surface of the dryer feels hotter than usual.
  • Clothes are excessively hot at the end of the drying cycle.
  • The temperature in the house rises while the dryer runs.
  • The area around the dryer covers in condensation or lint while the dryer is in use.
  • The outlet outside at the end of your dryer vent doesn’t have any air/lint moving thru it.

Benefits of regular maintenance…

  • Saves money when you use less energy
    • by running fewer cycles
    • by not having to cool a house overheated by a malfunctioning dryer.
  • Lengthens the life of your dryer when you run fewer cycles.


Take advantage of the “Spring Cleaning” bug to get your dryer checked out.  It’s a perfect add-on when getting your chimney cleaned at the end of the burning season.  


Here we are again! Chimney fire “season”.

Two common causes for these fires occurring more often in late December and early January:

  • Burning of wrapping paper and old trees after Christmas.
    – Burning materials aside from the designated fuel can result in a devastating chimney fire, but in reality, even apparently safe burning can result in such an irritating inconvenience.
  • Lack of service (routine, regular chimney sweeping).
    – Our tendency for procrastination puts off annual service and then (at the last minute before the need for holiday fires) there’s no way to get an appointment and we think, “well, we really haven’t used it THAT much. It’ll probably be ok…..”


Anatomy of a Chimney Fire

Anytime wood burns, it creates by-products of combustion. These materials include smoke, soot, carbon monoxide, and creosote. The build-up of creosote is responsible for chimney fires. Creosote can be black or brown in color and flakey or slick in texture. Any combination of traits is highly flammable. With every fire in the fireplace or stove, creosote condenses along the interior of the chimney, building to increasingly dangerous levels. A stray spark or ember, from burning wrapping paper for example, can easily ignite the creosote, turning an innocent, homely fire in your fireplace into a catastrophe.

Creosote burns at 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is four to five times hotter than traditional wood fires. This extreme heat and the other chemical traits of creosote make these fires very difficult to extinguish quickly. Resulting damage can include melted mortar, cracked bricks, cracked flue tiles and exposed woodwork in the house. Once the woodwork catches fire, the house could very well burn to the ground, costing thousands of dollars in damage and potentially injuring or killing people inside the house.

While chimney fires often create noteworthy displays of light and explosions, they can also be secretive and slow-burning, causing damage without alerting anyone. A chimney sweep will look for signs of a chimney fire, including smoke leaking through the masonry materials, honeycomb textured creosote, discolored chimney components, and heat damaged roofing. Generally, chimney fires will leave severe damage in their wake and require extensive repairs. Sometimes it could even require entire chimney rebuilds, in order for the chimney to function safely again. These are not inexpensive repairs, so avoiding chimney fires would be a worthy goal.

Fortunately, chimney fires are, for the most part, preventable.

  • First, current fire safety standards mandate an annual chimney sweep, which involves the removal of built-up creosote from the interior of the chimney.
    – For fireplaces and stoves that experience heavy use, experts recommend more frequent sweeps, if need is indicated.
  • Second, burning the proper fuel for the fireplace or stove goes a long way toward reducing creosote buildup in the first place.
    – Burning wood that has been properly seasoned cuts down on creosote buildup, as well as burning more hardwoods than softwoods. Avoid burning freshly cut wood – like an old Christmas tree – and any kind of papers or decorations, which burn very hot and can emit sparks and embers.

For more information on preventing chimney fires, visit our Company Blog page. In the search box on that page, type “chimney fire”. That will get you started.

To schedule a routine chimney sweep in Upstate South Carolina, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps.