Why dirty dryer vents are an ‘unseen hazard’ in your home

Ross McLaughlin & Carly Yoshida, CTV Vancouver

A clogged dryer vent can lead to a fire, but many people don’t realize the importance of cleaning vents and lint traps regularly.

Vancouver had 13 dryer related fires in 2015 that caused $200,000 worth of damage, and the city has already had nine dryer related fires this year. Nearly all of the fires were related to issues around lint buildup and duct cleaning.

“It’s sort of the unseen hazard that we don’t think about,” said Coquitlam fire inspector Kim Saulnier. Last year, Coquitlam Fire Rescue only dealt with one dryer fire, but they have already had four in the first five months of 2016.

A plugged vent can trap heat and impede the airflow of the dryer. Regular lint trap and vent cleaning allows the heat and air flow to move through the dryer properly.

“Lint can gather around the actual motor itself and that insulates the motor, can cause heat to build up, and that’s where we can see ignition,” said Saulnier.

Robert Orford from Freeflo Ventilation & Maintenance says if the outside vent is plugged, the airflow becomes restricted, and the lint will make its way into other cavities of the dryer.

“There’s a lot of neglected vents,” he said.

Saulnier encourages homeowners to clean their outside vents, hose and ducts once a year, either themselves or by hiring a qualified contractor.

“According to the fire code in B.C. you should be cleaning out your lint trap after every use,” she said. “In fact, I would say, check the lint trap before you throw the load [of laundry] in there.”

Homeowners are also encouraged to turn dryers off before leaving the house or going to bed. Dryers should never be used without a lint filter, and you should avoid overloading them.

It can cost about $90 to have your dryer vents cleaned out, and the workers wouldn’t need to come inside your home. But it’s also a good idea to have the lint cleaned from around the dryer drum as well. Plugged vents in apartment buildings can also lead to moisture buildup and damage.

Study: Builders’ risk insurance higher for wood buildings

Excerpted article was written by RICHARD GILBERT


There is a substantial difference in the risks and insurance rates for the construction of wood frame buildings compared to concrete structures, a recent study commissioned by the Concrete Council of Canada reveals.
Builders’ risk insurance higher for wood buildings: study

“Our objective with this study is to provide credible information on a level playing field basis about the use of various building products, whether it is concrete, steel or wood,” said Chris Conway, chair of the Concrete Council of Canada.

“This study is one part of a larger effort to get accurate information out there about our products, while at the same time trying to correct and clarify any misconceptions about other products.”

The Concrete Council of Canada recently released a study by Globe Advisors entitled Insurance Costs for Mid-Rise Wood Frame and Concrete Residential Buildings.

The report focuses on the difference in property insurance between wood frame buildings up to six storeys and structures using various non-combustible materials, including cast-in-place concrete, precast concrete, concrete blocks and insulated concrete forms.

“When you look at the studies we have had access to about building material choices and how they are perceived by builders and architects, wood is favoured primarily in two categories, cost and speed,” said Conway.

“Concrete is perceived as having many favourable attributes, such as resiliency, strength and lifecycle durability. Really, what this study does is it addresses the issue of perceived cost.”

Using data from interviews with three underwriters and the Canadian Wood Council (CWC), the study found that builders’ risk insurance rates per $100 monthly for comparable wood and concrete buildings are on average $0.008 for concrete and $0.053 for wood.

When the rate provided by CWC for wood frame insurance is excluded, the average rate for wood buildings rises to $0.06. The CWC rate was significantly lower than the rates provided by the underwriters.

As a result, the study concluded that builders’ risk insurance rates were 7.5 times higher for the construction of wood mid-rise buildings compared to concrete.

The reasons for this difference in the cost of insurance are the higher risk of fire and greater risk and repair costs of water and moisture damage for wood buildings.

Fire damage to a wood frame structure can result in a total loss, whereas for concrete, the financial loss is usually not as serious, the study indicates.

The study reports that only one per cent of concrete buildings are demolished during a fire, compared to eight per cent of wood frame buildings.

Moisture control is a difficult and expensive process for wood frame mid-rise buildings, which are more susceptible to mould and rot. Water damage is the leading cause of residential claims costs in Canada. Water damage tends to spread more rapidly and remain undetected longer in wood frame structures compared to concrete structures.

In addition, it is generally much more difficult for strata managers to secure adequate and affordable coverage for wood frame buildings.

Many Canadian insurance companies will not underwrite wood frame structures, or will aggressively limit their exposure for such structures, both during construction and over the life of the asset, the study states. This has led to a significant amount of re-insurance coverage for these structures being brokered through the European Union and the United Kingdom re-insurance markets.

Despite these facts, Conway said there is a perception in the industry that wood is much less expensive for the construction of mid-rise wood structures.

“What we are doing in a fact-based way is to use a third party to find out if this construction method is actually cheaper,” he said.

“We used a third party, because the study has a lot more credibility than if we did it ourselves. I think it is important to get this information out there, so people can make rational decisions about what materials to build with.”

Since insurance rates are only one of the many factors that determine the construction cost of mid-rise residential buildings, Conway said there is a need for a comparative assessment of the total lifecycle costs of wood frame and concrete structures.

As a result, the Concrete Council of Canada is currently working on a total costing study, which will consider changing technologies and related costs of building products, as well as the longer term costs of building operation, maintenance and decommissioning.

Established in October 2013, the council brings together national and provincial representatives from the full spectrum of cement and concrete manufacturers across the country.

The council’s mission is to advance the industry’s leadership in sustainable construction and promote the social, environmental and economic value of concrete, concrete products and concrete systems in Canada.

Individual property owners and taxpayers as a whole exposed to 60% of risk, study finds

Read more

Make Fire Safety a Part of Holiday Weekend Plans

The Fire Marshal and Chief of Emergency Management of Ontario is urging Ontarians to include fire safety in their Victoria Day weekend plans as they prepare to head to cottage country. Here are simple tips to enjoy a safe holiday weekend:

  • Install smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas of your cottage, cabin or seasonal home – it’s the law inOntario, just like for permanent residences.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms outside sleeping areas of your cottage, cabin or seasonal home if it has a fuel-burning appliance or attached garage.
  • Test smoke alarms to ensure they are working to provide life-saving early detection and warning in your home away from home. Pack a new alarm and extra batteries in case they need replacement.
  • Check with the local fire department, municipality, or the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for any restrictions on burning in the area where you are vacationing.
  • Use caution when having campfires or burning brush around cottages and camps. Keep a water supply and shovel close by to ensure fires are completely extinguished.
  • Clean heating appliances and barbecues before using them. Keep an eye on your barbecue while cooking, and ensure all combustibles, children and pets are kept well away.
  • Keep barbecue lighters and matches out of sight and reach of children.


“As we look towards the Victoria Day long weekend, and enjoying time outdoors with family and friends, we want to make sure everyone keeps fire safety in mind. These simple fire safety tips are easy to follow and ensure we each do our part to help Ontario’sdedicated firefighters keep our communities safe for everyone this weekend and throughout the year.”
Yasir Naqvi
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services

“The current fire situations in Alberta and parts of northern Ontario are powerful reminders of the devastating effects of fire. Test smoke alarms and replace batteries now, before the summer season and check heating appliances and chimneys before using them.”

Ross Nichols
Ontario Fire Marshal and Chief of Emergency Management



SOURCE Office of the Fire Marshal – Media Relations

ICLR releases ‘build back better’ guidelines for Fort McMurray

ICLR releases ‘build back better’ guidelines for Fort McMurray

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction has identified best practices for the design and construction of homes to reduce the risk of loss and damage from several natural hazards, including wildfire. These elements, part of ICLR’s ‘Insurers Rebuild Better Homes’ program, are actively encouraged when insurance companies respond to a total loss, and should be considered with a partial loss event.

The program sets out three essential elements for each hazard (basement flooding, wildfire, extreme wind and hail) that provide the greatest impact on risk reduction, and several additional elements that would further improve resilience if funds are available.

The wildfire elements of the program are recommended in all areas at risk of wildfire, and are particularly important in the wildland-urban interface.

Wildland fire
Priority protection:

  • All roofing materials and installation requirements must be A, B or C rated fire resistant. Asphalt, clay tile or metal roofing should be given preference.
  • Use fire resistant siding, such as stucco, metal siding, brick or cement shingles. Sheath exterior walls from the ground level to the roofline with minimum ½” sheathing. Exterior walls should be free of gaps or openings that would allow embers to enter building envelope or become trapped behind siding. Heavy timber construction must provide a minimum 20-minute fire rating.
  • Ensure that exterior windows, windows within exterior doors and skylights are made of tempered glass, multi-layered glazed panels, glass block, or have fire resistance rating of no less than 20 minutes. Exterior doors shall be solid-core wood no less than 1 3⁄4″ thick, approved non-combustible construction, or have a fire protection rating of no less than 20 minutes.

Enhanced protection:

  • Install non-combustible roof gutters, downspouts and connectors, with a cover to prevent accumulation of debris. Use a roof drip edge.
  • Screen vents and soffits with a corrosion-resistant, non-combustible wire mesh (mesh opening not to exceed ¼” in size).
  • Close in eaves, attics, decks and openings under floors with non-combustible materials or, as a minimum, all openings should be screened with corrosion-resistant, ¼” non-combustible wire mesh. Cover attic, foundation and vertical wall ventilation openings with ¼” mesh corrosion-resistant metal screen or other non-combustible material.
  • Install non-combustible mesh window screening to prevent the collection of firebrands and embers or their entry into open windows.
  • Exterior projections (e.g., decks, balconies, car port covers, etc.) should be constructed of non-combustible material, fire-retardant-treated wood, or other ignition-resistant materials, or be a 1-hour fire-rated assembly.
  • Non-combustible materials should be used for balcony and deck surfaces. Decks should be either sheathed with non-flammable materials with access to allow for clean out of flammable materials beneath decks, or have a non-combustible surface free of combustible material below the deck and out to 1 m horizontal from the edge of the deck. Stilts should be built from, or encased in non-combustible materials.
  • Install a spark arrester on every fireplace and wood stove chimney (minimum 12-gauge welded wire or woven wire mesh, openings not to exceed ½”).
  • No attic ventilation openings or ventilation louvers shall be permitted in soffits, in eave overhangs, between rafters at eaves, or in other overhanging areas on exposures facing hazardous vegetation.

ICLR’s ‘Insurers Rebuild Stronger Homes’ is the first program in the world setting out the actions that insurance companies can take to strengthen the disaster preparedness of homeowners by building back better homes after a disaster strikes. The insurance industry provides the majority of funds to support the recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of homes damaged or destroyed in Canada by natural hazards. The recovery and rebuilding process is a critical opportunity to build back better, enhancing the resilience of Canadian homes to future hazards at little or no additional cost.

*           *           *           *

Established in 1998 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based inToronto and at Western University in London, Canada. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR’s research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters.

SOURCE Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

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