January 2014
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Where there is smoke there is . . . ?

Tonight I received a text from my daughter that said, “The dryer still smells fire but I am going to start it.” I was not as concerned that the dryer was smelling fire as the dryer smelling like fire.

I had walked through the house and it had a faint smell like someone had toasted a tortilla on a burner of the gas stove to heat it up. I did not see anyone so I went to run an errand. On the way back I received the text. My thought was, “Holy Smokes” or something like that. Just what I needed tonight was a dryer lint fire.

The vent on the back of the house was fairly lint free. I took off the cover and turned on the dryer to air only. No need to fan a potential fire with hot air. There was not an indication of smoke or a burning smell. With the cover off on the outside of the house, I reached in and started pulling lint out. I ran some wire up the vent pipe and brought more lint out as the air was blowing chunks out as well. I attached wire to the end of a dry garden hose and ran it up the vent and pulled it out several times. More lint. I also began to have other things pop out of the vent.

I went inside and pulled lint out from inside the dryer. Back outside to run the garden hose with the wire on the end in and out of the vent pipe. Lots of lint that looked old, compacted and impregnated with small particulates and sand. And what surprised me was the amount of pencils. Some of those pencils have to be 10 plus years old as Scott used them in grade school. The short ones. He loved them so much he would take a perfectly good eight inch pencil and sharpen it down to almost nothing.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The vent is only about 6 feet long and this is most of the solid debris. There is a lot for lint to get stuck on. Especially the clock guts and the 3/4″ pvc pipe. I am just thankful there were not rodent carcasses in the mass of lint and debris.


I have been told for several years that they dryer does not seem to dry. I have been religious about cleaning the part at the outside of the house to insure that the dryer was working properly. It has been at least 20 years from the time I put the metal dryer vent in. It is like many things on an old house. You either know it need some attention or it will tell you. Occasionally it screams help me. Typically that is a plumbing or electrical issue. Of course, smoke and fire scream as well. I guess that where there is smoke there is another honey-do . . .

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