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What You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide from Gas Dryers

Doing the laundry can be hazardous to your health if your gas dryer isn't properly vented.

And What You Can Do to Stop It

Having your dryer vent line cleaned on a regular basis will prevent fires caused by lint clogs in the exhaust vent, but lint clogs (and improper venting) of a gas clothes dryer can also cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Unlike a fire, carbon monoxide is invisible and has no smell--which is why it's known as the "silent killer."

If you have a gas dryer in your home, here are some things you need to know:

1. Carbon Monoxide is Deadly

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced by the burning of carbon-based substances such as gasoline, coal, wood, fabrics, animal flesh—anything that has carbon in it.

When you breathe carbon monoxide, it binds to red blood cells in your body to the point it prevents those cells from carrying oxygen to the brain and other organs. This is why the first symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in low exposure cases are dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. In cases of greater exposure, carbon monoxide poisoning causes confusion, vomiting, seizures, unconsciousness, and ultimately death.

If you experience any of these symptoms while running your gas dryer, get fresh air immediately:

2. Gas Powered Clothes Dryers Can Produce Carbon Monoxide

Many people don’t realize the exhaust from a gas-powered clothes dryer contains small amounts of carbon monoxide. Unlike natural gas, which is the fuel your gas dryer burns to create heat, carbon monoxide has no telltale odor like the rotten egg smell added to natural gas to make it easy to detect a leak. This is why we recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector in whatever room your clothes dryer is located.

While it is true that carbon monoxide is produced by incomplete combustion, when was the last time you had a service technician check the flame on your gas dryer to verify it’s burning blue (which indicates complete combustion)? If you’re like most people, the answer is “never.” Even with a brand new dryer, you’re going on blind faith that the burners are adjusted properly and the gas is burning completely.

Even small amounts of carbon monoxide released over the time a dryer is in use can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Long-term exposure to small amounts of carbon monoxide can even cause brain damage. Ultimately, you’re far better off having any damaged or improperly installed dryer vents repaired or replaced.

3. Carbon Monoxide Gets Trapped Inside Your House by Obstructed Dryer Vent Lines

Dryers that aren’t vented properly to the outdoors, or those with obstructions (such as lint clogs in the vent line or a bird nest at the exhaust vent termination) can cause carbon monoxide gas in the dryer’s exhaust to back up into your laundry room and infiltrate the rest of your house. Sometimes, a section of the vent line running along the ceiling has come apart enough for carbon monoxide to escape.

Another common problem is for the transition hose to have come off the back of the clothes dryer, causing all the dryer’s exhaust to go right into your laundry area. Usually, this is easy to detect because the laundry area will get noticeably warmer when running the dryer. All you need to do is look behind the dryer to see if the transition hose has come loose.

4. You Can Minimize The Risk of Your Clothes Dryer Producing Too Much Carbon Monoxide

Dryer Vent Wizard recommends installing a carbon monoxide detector in your laundry room.
Detergent? Check. Fabric softener? Check. But what about a carbon monoxide alarm?

The first thing we recommend to anyone with a gas-fueled clothes dryer is to put a carbon monoxide detector in your laundry area. (Look for one marked UL 2034 or IAS 6-96—indicating they meet the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines). Since carbon monoxide has no odor, this is the only way you will be able to know if any is getting into your home from your clothes dryer.

The next thing we recommend is having your dryer vent line cleaned every year (every six months if you do 5 or more loads per week or have pets that shed on your clothing and blankets a lot). While lint clogs are dangerous for the very real threat of a fire starting in a clump of lint, they also obstruct the flow of your dryer’s exhaust to the outdoors and cause it to back up into your dryer and your home.

When Dryer Vent Wizard is scheduled to perform a vent cleaning, we also do a thorough inspection of the vent line to ensure it is properly installed and not compromised by any poorly secured joints or holes.

5. Take Action as Soon as You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

If you or someone you live with complains of a headache, dizziness, or nausea and you notice the dryer has been (or still is) running, the first thing you need to do is get out of the house into the fresh air. At this stage, while you or your family member is still conscious, the chances for a quick recovery are good.

If the person is unresponsive and having difficulty breathing, you should administer CPR and call 911. In the ambulance and the hospital, the victim will be treated with oxygen to compensate for the loss of oxygen caused by the carbon monoxide poisoning. In some cases, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause permanent brain damage, so follow-up appointments will be needed to evaluate brain function.

If you are ever doing laundry and feel dizzy or tired, resist the temptation to go lie down. There have been many cases where someone mistakes carbon monoxide poisoning for fatigue and ends up being overcome by it.

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Is Your Gas Dryer Properly Vented? Schedule an Inspection by Dryer Vent Wizard Today

Professional dryer vent line repair and installation MilwaukeeTake a good look at your dryer vent line. Is it a rigid metal material or one of those flimsy, vinyl or foil-covered tubes? If it’s metal, are the sections solidly connected or are they separating or barely held together with duct tape? It should be a rigid metal vent line, securely held together, and taking the shortest route possible to an exterior wall. If it’s not, you may be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Dryer Vent Wizard of Wisconsin installs, repairs, reroutes and replaces dryer vent lines in full compliance with current building codes—in other words, we use only rigid metal vent lines and semi-rigid transition hoses (the piece that runs from the back of the dryer to the main vent line). We service homes, apartment buildings, condominiums and businesses throughout southeast Wisconsin, the greater Milwaukee area and northeast Wisconsin.

Don’t take chances with the health and safety of your family. Contact us to schedule a dryer vent inspection, cleaning or repair today.

Contact the Dryer Vent Wizard of Wisconsin Nearest You:

Northeast Wisconsin: Fond du lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Kewaunee and the Fox Valley Counties. 920-644-3797

North Milwaukee: All locations north of Highway 94 in Dane County, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Dodge counties. 262-757-8368

Southeast Wisconsin: All locations south of Highway 94 in Dane County, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties.  262-312-1991. For property managers and condo associations, call 262-501-5240.

Request a free estimate on dryer vent cleaning for your home or business.