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LintAlert helps prevent clothes dryer-related fires

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April 6, 2010

The LintAlert lets homeowners know when their clothes dryer is becoming a fire hazard and ...

The LintAlert lets homeowners know when their clothes dryer is becoming a fire hazard and wasting electricity

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According to the US Fire Administration more than 40 clothes dryers catch fire in the U.S. every day. Annually between 2002 and 2004 clothes dryers were involved in an estimated 15,600 structure fires, fifteen deaths, 400 injuries, and US$99 million in direct property damage. One of the main culprits in dryer-related fires is lint. As it builds up it restricts airflow, not only creating a fire hazard, but also wasting energy. The LintAlert combats this needless destruction and waste of electricity by alerting homeowners to any blockage or restriction in the vent system of the dryer.

The LintAlert consists of two main parts: the alarm module and SmartTap fitting. The SmartTap fitting is installed in the dryers' transition hose at or near the dryers exhaust port and uses a pressure differential sensor to monitor the pressure throughout the entire exhaust conduit. If it detects an increase in back flow pressure caused by any blockage or restriction it sends a signal to the alarm module via a six-foot flexible 1/8" tube.

The SmartTap fitting on the dryer's transition hose

Under normal operation, the LintAlert's transparent lens glows a steady blue, but as lint builds up over time and restricts airflow, the light bar blockage indicator will progressively illuminate from green to yellow then to red. The audible alarm can be muted by pressing the control button once, leaving the flashing LED lights as a reminder that maintenance should be provided to the dryer's exhaust. An increase in the number of LEDs indicates an increase in fire danger as well as an increase in the amount of electricity being wasted.

The LintAlert took first place in the New Product World Showcase, first place in the New Product Launch, and the Retailers' Choice Awards at the 2009 National Hardware Show in Las Vegas and is now available online for US$44.90 including shipping.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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6 Comments

Alarmist Alert! Alarmist Alert! You don't need this thing. Dryers are designed to shut off the flame when there is a restriction. The manufacturers would get constantly sued if the dryers caused house fires all the time. A few months ago, the wife told me "Hey, fix the dryer, it takes too long time for the clothes to dry", so I opened up the dryer and watched it operate. The flame would come on for about 15 seconds and shut off. I cleared out the vent which was nearly plugged and the flame stays on and the clothes dry in a reasonable amount of time. Wife Happy, me happy, no silly Lint Alert needed.

Also, have your kid check your math! 40 fires a day, times 365 day a year, is 14,600 fires annually!

PizzaEater
6th April, 2010 @ 09:15 am PDT

Yo Pizza Eater, my dryer is electric and this article is appreciated, I bought a vent pipe cleaner kit from smarthome, you would not believe the amount of dust that came out, for fun I took a four inch pile of it off to the side and tossed a lighted wooden match at it, the resulting WHUMP was impressive knocked me on my arse

Bill Bennett
6th April, 2010 @ 07:20 pm PDT

As a former volunteer fireman I only had to put out one dryer fire, but they do happen. Regularly checking and cleaning your dryer exhaust tube is as important as cleaning your chimney. The incident in question nearly cost the homeowner everything. Drying your clothes depends as much as air movement as heat. Run on low for 20 minutes, check the load and remove the synthetics and light blends that are dry already, then run it again. Your clothes will dry faster and you'll save on energy costs.

Facebook User
7th April, 2010 @ 07:06 pm PDT

Now you are going to have to clean out that 1/8" tube that "sends a signal to the alarm module" If your 4" diameter exhaust clogs up too frequently now, how long do you think an 1/8" tube will take to clog up? Most likely, there is a small spring loaded vane inside the alarm module that the other end of the air tube blows against. What's going to happen when the alarm module gets clogged with lint? It's going to sit there and tell you everything is fine. Also, what is the purpose of the 15A electrical outlet? It is because this thing covers the two outlets you use to plug in your washer and dryer? So you get one outlet back? Can you plug your dryer into this outlet and let the alarm module turn off the dryer if there is a problem? That won't work with a 220V electric dryer. More features, More failures.

Save your money.

PizzaEater
8th April, 2010 @ 12:58 pm PDT

PizzaEater, a few comments from the inventor if I may. Yes, there is a mechanism in dryers that shut off the heating element or the gas if tempertures get to high. This mechanism fails, and if you are familiar with the technical side of dryer fires, this failure is one of the popular items that ignite the lint.

A question we field: Can the tap fitting itself or the sensor get clogged or contaminated?

Extensive testing has shown that the minimal signature of the tap fitting and the minuscule flow of air required for our digital sensor does not promote or allow lint build-up or contamination to any of the LintAlert components.

The amount of airflow that can go through the sensor, versus how much air that can go through an 1/8" ID tubing is huge. This minimal airstream in the tubing is not capable of permitting lint to enter the tapfitting port or allowing lint particles to remain in the airstream throughout the journey in the 6 feet of tubing. There is simply a very very minute amount of flow in the tubing. Contamination at the tap fitting or the sensor is not an issue.

There does not exist a small spring loaded vane inside the alarm module.

The pass-through plug feature is as you hint around. In most cases the outlets in the laundry room are at a minimum. The LintAlert in effect does not use up a valuable outlet. A gas dryer or a washing machine or even an iron can plug into the pass through outlet in the LintAlert. There is no ability for the LintAlert to turn off an appliance. These are good questions and concerns. Thanks for letting me post a reply.

Rick Harpenau
12th April, 2010 @ 01:23 pm PDT

Check out the'OnGard' fire suppression system designed specifically for dryer lint fires. Doesn't replace proper maintenance , just works to minimize fire damages. www.ongard.biz

Gerry Flood
16th April, 2010 @ 07:29 am PDT
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