It Turns Out That Dryer Lint Really is Flammable

After a couple of days of more than usual chaos, I have a bit of time to recount the events of the last few days.  I am going to be a bit brief, leaving out most of the details, and that mostly because I am only a lot tired.  There are some people that we have already told, but this is the easiest way to “inform the masses”.

Several weeks ago, we discovered that there was a leak in a water line behind the washing machine.  I fixed it, well, it was a fix that was ultimately temporary.  While I was out of town, my wife calls and tells me that that fix was, in fact, temporary.  She managed to deal with it.  I got got back home and tried a more permanent fix.  Sometimes, it is best to get the name brand, because sometimes, the name brand is actually better than the off brand. 

That one leak turned into 2 on the same pipe.  Finally, because the project became more time consuming than I could handle, and my wife called her dad.  He come and took on the project.  From this point, I may not have all of the details in, and I may even have a couple of details wrong, much of this stills feels like a blur.

By last Wednesday, we had 3/4 of the back wall of the laundry closet pulled out, and about half of the ceiling out.  We also discovered that the dryer vent pipe had an 8 inch gap.

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This is it.  Dryer lint that was suppose to be blowing out through the roof has been blowing into the ceiling above the dryer and inside the walls.  You might call it free insulation.  I did, but I do not recommend it.  This has been, as you see pictured to the left, for at least as long as we have lived there, and probably even before our landlord purchased it several years ago.  Before I go any further, our landlord has been fantastic, and there is no way he could have known about this.

I have a friend who has been in apartment maintenance for 20 years who offered to come over and sweat pipe if we needed it.  I took him up on it.  He came over on Thursday to sweat in hot and cold water valves for the washing machine.  He never got to it.

While he was looking at what he needed to do, and I assume also see what safety measures he would need to take, my father in law was trying to unclog a sink drain upstairs.  IN the process, one part of the drain connected with what we think was a ground wire, and there was an arc.  He flipped the switch a time or two and it arced again, causing a pile of dryer lint to flame up.

My boys are in Scouts.  Boy Scouts are encouraged to have a zip loc bag of dryer lint to help get a campfire started.  There is a reason for this.  Dryer lint is pretty easily flammable.  So, the pile of dryer lint inside the ceiling above the dryer catching fire is not a surprise.  I had a couple of fire extinguishers that I put near the laundry closet in case they were needed.  My wife and I were at work, while my father in law, friend and kids were at home.  The fire was put out.  A short time later they started to smell something funny.  There seemed to be some smoldering, and they were not sure if it was where the original fire was or if it was in the walls somewhere else.  They called the fire dept.  By providential grace, the trucks arrived fairly quickly.  Someone decided to pull the rest of the ceiling in the laundry closet down, and plop, the pile of dryer lint that fell was what was smoldering.  To be clear, no one was harmed, nor is there any property damage from the fire.

Given the situation, the electric company was called in and they pulled the meter box.  And that left our home without power.  We can get the meter box back after we have an electrical inspection.

We had an inspection today (Monday) of sorts.  The fire investigators said that an electrician could pull power into a house and do an inspection even if the meter was gone.  The electrician today apparently could not do that.  He did inspect the localized area, and will be getting a report to us that we can hopefully take to the electric company to get our meter box back in.  At that point a more thorough inspection can take place and issues addressed.

We spent the Thursday and Friday nights with some friends that introduced us to our landlord.  They had room and graciously let us invade their otherwise quiet home.  We are currently house sitting for friends who are out of town, and need their dogs looked after while they are away.  We can go back to the first house if we need to, so we have a roof over our heads.  As of this writing on Monday night, we are waiting for the report to come in.

A few people have made various offers of help, and those are greatly appreciated.  We are writing this for a couple of reasons:

1)There are several friends and family members who do not know and as was stated earlier, this is the easiest way to inform the masses.

2) We would like you to pray.  Pray for our nerves, as they can be shot when you are displaced in the best of circumstances.  Pray that this is completely resolved quickly, but more important, rightly.  We want all of the issues we don’t know about found and dealt with.  If that takes a little longer, that is fine with us.  Pray for our landlord.  He has made an investment in a property that has some problems that must be addressed.  Pray that these are not expensive.  He may or may not be financially better off than we are, either way, I do not believe this was something any of us could have known about.  He is being inconvenienced just in different ways than we are.

At this point, prayer is the immediate need.  As things change in the next day or so, we will post updates at the top of this post. 

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