Do You Have Working Smoke Alarms?

By: Rochester Hills Fire Department

Since they first became widely available in the 1970’s, smoke alarms have proved over and over their live saving worthiness.  These simple, affordable, readily available and easy to use life saving devices can truly make the difference in the outcome of a fire in your home. To learn more about smoke alarms, you can go to: or call the Rochester Hills Fire Department at 248-656-4720.  Also, still available to all residents of Rochester Hills are free smoke alarms.  If you don’t have an adequate number of alarms, or if your alarms are over ten years old they should be replaced.  Please call the above phone number to have additional alarms placed in your home or replace your existing ones.

Clothes Dryer Fires

Get the lint out!  Don’t Let Your Dryer Start a Fire! Keep Your Home Safe and Sound.

Dryer Vent Cleaning is Important! Most people have their furnaces cleaned regularly; however, very few people think of the clothes dryer in relation to appliance maintenance. According to the National Fire Protection Association over 15,000 dryer fires are reported each year.

When a dryer vent and the dryer ducts are clogged with lint, air flow is restricted, causing your dryer to work harder and use more energy. This creates higher utility bills and a greater chance of the appliance breaking down. Appliance repairs and/or replacement can be expensive. You can prolong the life of your clothes dryer with proper dryer vent cleaning and maintenance.

A clothes dryer fire is caused by lint build-up which restricts airflow and leads to overheating. Dryers produce a lot of lint and simply cleaning the lint screen is not enough. Though the lint filter catches most of the lint, some will escape and end up in the dryer vent system. The dryer ducts remove lint and moisture from your clothes; the moist lint doesn’t always make it to the vent outside of your home. It can stick to the sides of the ducts where it builds up and eventually dries to a hard paste. This hard paste attracts more sticky lint, eventually creating a blockage which can cause a fire.

It used be that most clothes dryers were in the basement, on an outside wall, with a relatively short, straight vent to the outdoors. These days many newer homes tend to have their laundry area located away from an outside wall; some are on the second floor. This means dryer vents are much longer and contain some elbows and bends where lint can accumulate. They’re also harder to reach therefore more difficult to keep cleaned. The ideal dryer vent system is short and straight. Dryer ducts should be made of rigid metal, not the flexible foil or vinyl type that was used in the old days. The flexible vinyl type of tubing crushes easily and restricts air-flow. 

We do not advise use of sheet metal screws when attaching multiple sections of vent pipe together. They use foil tape instead to eliminate protuberances that cause obstructions where lint can accumulate, eventually leading to a restriction which hampers dryer vent cleaning and allows lint to build up.

Few people are aware that the dryer vent screen should be washed thoroughly with warm soapy water every few months to remove residue build up caused by dryer sheets. It is actually possible for the lint screen to have so much build-up on it that it will hold water! This definitely restricts air flow and causes the dryer to take more than one cycle to properly dry a load of clothes.

Birds have been known to build nests in dryer vents which prevent lint from escaping. Bees, wasps and hornets nests have also been found in dryer vents. We recommend annual dryer vent cleaning and regular inspections to be sure the dryer vent system is free of clogs.


• Make sure your dryer vent system is up to city, state and manufacturer’s codes
• Replace plastic or foil vent with semi-rigid or solid metal material
• Keep the lint screen clean; check before and after each load
• Wash lint screens with soap and water every few months to remove residue from fabric softener sheets
• Have professional dryer vent cleaning done annually
• Don’t keep combustibles like chemical cleaning products or chemical laden rags near your clothes dryer
• Don’t leave the house or go to sleep with your dryer running
• Check the outside vent cover to make sure it’s not blocked or damaged.

  Warning Signs to Watch for:

 • The dryer takes more than one cycle to get a load dry
• No lint visible on lint screen
• Dryer repeatedly stops during a cycle
• Clothes have moldy smell after dry cycle
• Clothes are very hot after a dry cycle.

About Tom and Ann Gendich

Founders of Rochester Media. Looking to provide great local news to all people in and around Rochester and Rochester Hills. Send them a note at