Dear Paul: I manage a condominium community in Baltimore County Maryland. The Board of Directors wants ideas on how to get residents to clean their dryer vents. Can you give me any ideas? Thanks.
CE: The adage: “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink!” is probably appropriate in these circumstances. Here are a few ideas you may want to suggest to your Board.
- Offer a free annual safety inspection. This could be expanded to vents, electrical and smoke detectors. Residents who participate get their name placed in a draw for a gift certificate.
- Hold a workshop to demonstrate how to clean the vents properly. Attendees can borrow a leaf blower for a day to clean their vents.
- Distribute a flyer to all residents outlining what could happen if you do not clean your dryer vent regularly (e.g. trapped lint could block the airflow, trapped lint is a potential fire hazard). You may ask your local fire department for examples of what they have seen happen with unkept vents.
- A blocked dryer vent can cause your dryer to overheat, resulting in a problem with the heating element and thermostat.
- Depending on the vent’s location, birds could nest and completely block the air movement.
- Investigate if mold could grow in a dirty vent and result in a health hazard.
- Declare a month “Dryer Vent Cleaning Month”.
- Have a quiz about “Dryer Vent Cleaning” Facts.
- Have a contest where residents win a gift card if they can produce their Dryer’s owner manual.
- I would investigate what insurance companies might say about coverage if the owner was found negligent for not cleaning their dry vent that caused some serious damage.
- Finally, if the laws in Maryland allow, the Board could institute a condo Rule that could force owners to clean the dryer vents for the safety of the community. There would have to be an inspection and non-compliance would result in a fine.
As any advertiser will tell you, the message must be repeated several times for it to even register with your audience, let alone act.
“According to the National Fire Protection Agency, between 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 15,970 home fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year. The NFPA also states: “ The leading factor contributing to the ignition of home fires involving clothes dryers was failure to clean, accounting for one-third (33 per cent) of dryer fires.” https://bit.ly/34Zs2oB
Be Well! Be Safe!