CREIA Recommends Safe and Proper Care of Washer & Dryers

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June 2005 ( Palm Springs, Calif) — The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) cautions homeowners to be aware of several common clothes washer and dryer safety issues that could cause damage to your home.

Check your washing machine water supply hoses regularly. The hot and cold water supply hoses to your laundry washing machine are under constant water pressure 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year unless you turn off the water supply valves between loads (which many folks do not do). Like anything else, hoses wear out and burst…often at the most inconvenient times such as while you are on vacation. The flood damage can be very expensive.

CREIA recommends you give serious consideration to replacing hoses at least every three years with the improved steel-strengthened type. When leaving on a trip make sure to shut-off the valves and leave a note reminding yourself to turn them back on when you return with the inevitable loads of laundry.

Check your dyer’s venting system. Terminating a dryer exhaust beneath a home is a common construction defect and is prohibited by the Uniform Mechanical Code. There are two reasons for this prohibition: continuous lint build-up in the subfloor area poses a fire hazard, and moisture condensation beneath the structure can cause damage to the wood framing . The warm most air produced by the dryer is conducive to the cultivation of mold and the encouragement of wood destroying organisms and pests.

Crushed and blocked clothes dryer ducting can result in a home fire. Without adequate release and dispersion to the exterior lint trapped within the ducting may catch fire or at the very least cause longer drying cycles thereby raising the cost of energy to dry your clothes. Because many ducts pass through combustible wall framing and through the foundation crawl space it is imperative that during normal homeowner maintenance these duct be checked and cleaned as necessary.

To vent your dryer properly, the use of four-inch diameter smooth walled rigid metal ducting is advised. The duct connections should be secured with tape, not screws, because lint built-up on the screw ends can restrict the free flow of air. A dryer vent hood should be installed at the exterior of the building to prevent back drafting and pest access. Also, make sure to check the overall length of the air duct. The maximum allowed length is 14 feet. Some floor plans do not enable compliance with this requirement, but keeping the duct as short and straight as possible minimizes airflow resistance. Dryer ducts running upward through the roof require closer attention and more frequent maintenance.

This home safety message is brought to you by the California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA). Since 1976, CREIA, a non-profit corporation has been providing education, training, and support services to the real estate inspection industry and to the public. Inspectors must adhere to CREIA's Code of Ethics and follow the Standards of Practice developed by the association. CREIA requires its members to successfully pass a written test of property systems and complete 30 hours of education each year. Members can accumulate credits through various sources of education including monthly chapter meetings, conferences, and other approved activities. CREIA keeps records to ensure that members are complying with the requirements. Educational topics cover a variety of technical subjects including updates and advances that affect property inspection and the business of real estate inspection.

CREIA is dedicated to consumer protection and education. To locate a qualified CREIA inspector near you click here or call CREIA at (800) 388-8443.