One of the causes that contribute to household fires is an obstructed dryer vent. Even in high rise condominiums, this can be a possible ignition source and cause significant damage.
Over time, lint waste from your dryer will accumulate in the duct (the long flexible aluminum tubing that carries warm air to the outside) and eventually become obstructed. Signs that your dryer vent or duct is obstructed would be clothes taking longer than usual to dry or towels that take a long time to dry or both. That warm moist air continues to accumulate more lint and before you know it your vent is completely obstructed.
For homeowners, this is a relatively inexpensive fix that you can do yourself. Unplug your dryer (safety first), slide the dryer forward so that you can access the exhaust tubing. Disconnect your tubing from the outside vent and if possible, from the backside of the dryer. Reach through the tubing to extract all of the accumulated lint. Watch for bugs and other pests.
For townhome and condominium owners, this might not be such an easy process. However, you can do your part. First, be aware of how long your clothes and towels take to dry. If it takes longer than usual, ask the association manager who is responsible for cleaning the vents from your interior walls to the exterior vent. This could be an association expense or you could be personally responsible. If it’s the association’s responsibility, the maintenance person should be able to run a vent cleaner through the duct work and push the lint through the vent on the outside of the building. Or he or she can extract it back trough the tubing. If cleaning the duct is your responsibility and you know that your arm will not reach the exterior dryer vent, consider purchasing a dryer vent cleaner such as this one (available at any home improvement store). The cordless drill is not included but if you’re a do it yourselfer type, you may have one already. Connect the lint cleaner to the end of a cordless drill, run it through the duct work and you’re finished.
Simple precautions can go a long may in preventing fires.