Thread Number: 76131  /  Tag: Modern Dryers
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Post# 999660   7/7/2018 at 22:20 by Dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

So we are renting the finished lower level / walk out basement to friends of ours, and all has been going well. Until this week. Tuesday the oven died, parts are on the way for that, and Wednesday the dryer died (29" gas Whirlpool). Well it stopped heating anyway. Diagnosed as bad gas valve coils (or the valve itself, more likely) I had just replaced both coils, belt, tensioner, and rollers last week, and had the thing taken apart 3 times. Enough is enough, used too much when it was new.
I decided to replace it with a used one (newer anyway) so found a decent looking Kenmore HE4 gas model on Facebook marketplace for $50. Went this morning and picked it up, got home and plugged it in outside. Everything sounded ok so I went in, disconnected the old one, and got the new one hooked up. Plugged it in, hit start and thought all was well. I waited for the burner to light, and it did, so I was thinking a job well done. Not so fast. Our friend Pam was watching and looking it over, when all of a sudden she said there was smoke coming out the vent (vents through a removed pane in a window) Uh oh, I thought, this is a Propane dryer. And we have natural gas. Not quite. I immediately looked inside and saw bright orange flames coming out of the heat inlet grill. I said "Get the fire extinguisher, and quick" she took off into the other room and came back with it, I quickly opened the door and sprayed inside, which quickly poofed back, giving me a bath in yellow powder. I then sprayed into a gap in the cabinet, and turned the dryer back on for a second (I didn't know where the fire was or what) to distribute the powder. A few minutes later after recovering from an anxiety attack, I opened the dryer up and found the problem... A mouse had built a decent sized nest in the burner tube and when I started the dryer I incinerated it. I ALWAYS open a dryer up and inspect it before turning it on, but for whatever reason I didn't this time. Bad idea.
No damage to the dryer since the fire was contained to the burner tube, but it stunk and was completely yellow inside (fire extinguisher) and out. And the entire large laundry room had a thick yellow haze. Spent about 4 hours cleaning powder and smoke smell out (vacuumed first, then bleach spray everywhere), and all was well, works fine and almost no smell. The laundry room is a different story, everything has a fine yellow coating. Will work on that tomorrow. It is now running smooth and quiet and seems to dry pretty well, but was a scary situation for a few minutes there.
Hoping the fire extinguisher powder doesn't cause damage down the line. I cleaned everything very well (completely dismantled the dryer), all seals, ducts, etc. and gave all the rollers and tensioner a shot of 3 in 1 oil. When I started it up the first time after cleaning it, (fire extinguisher still handy!) A huge thick yellow cloud came out the vent, completely blocking view of our neighbors house (from the vent pipe, which was cleaned last week, so not cleaning it again.. A little fire protection can't hurt lol). My car was parked at the other end of the house and it even has yellow dust on it!
My first time in 25 years ever using a fire extinguisher, and hopefully last for a very long time! I was in panic mode so forgot to pull the pin at first.... An 18 year old extinguisher, kept "just in case" by the fireplace, gone in seconds. But it did work when it was needed (maybe not needed but I wasn't taking that chance).

Post# 999676 , Reply# 1   7/8/2018 at 03:09 by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

arbilab's profile picture

And you can tell your doctor you won't be needing that adrenal function screening he's been pushing at you.


Is that powder the extinguishment medium?  Easier cleanup than removing charcoal from timbers, but is that the best our rockit sinetists could come up with?   What was wrong with CO2?

Post# 999698 , Reply# 2   7/8/2018 at 10:52 by Dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

Yeah the yellow powder was from the fire extinguisher, it was super fine and got into everything. Also pretty irritating to the nose.

Post# 999720 , Reply# 3   7/8/2018 at 15:37 by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

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Got to admit my knowledgebase on fire ext'rs is pretty skimpy. Don't know what the dust type does that CO2 doesn't.  Just read the 'ingredients' on ours, one is "nuisance dust".  They could say that again.


Important thing, mess is the extent of damage.

Post# 999766 , Reply# 4   7/9/2018 at 02:09 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

ABC extinguishers

Or whatever "powder" fire extinguisher.

If you stop for half a second to think about the mess it will make, you will imediatelly say "whatever, i have a fire insurance. Burn, baby... Burn!"

Recently i bought one for my kitchen. Kidde, cheap "ABC" thing. It's there... If i need to use it to save my life, it will be reasonable. Now if i have to use it just to prevent more damage, it will be hanging on its bracket and will discharge only if the fire melts the trigger.

Post# 999772 , Reply# 5   7/9/2018 at 07:13 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Typically it's pretty much baking soda in a fire extinguisher, or at least that's what was in mine.

Post# 999780 , Reply# 6   7/9/2018 at 08:42 by Dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

I don't think it was baking soda, the powder has a similar texture but finer, and is bright yellow. Also irritates skin, eyes and nose. And I was coughing up yellow stuff yesterday... Yuck. If I needed to use one again I would, but would definitely try to use water first!

Post# 999965 , Reply# 7   7/10/2018 at 23:40 by Spinmon (st. charles mo )        

"I hates those meeces to pieces". You could check for critters 100 times and zip. That ONE time no checky and... At least the fire was contained.

Post# 999978 , Reply# 8   7/11/2018 at 04:59 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

I've been in 7 fires in my life

(I mean, 7 situations where i had to rush and grab a fire extinguisher or pull the alarm or being interrupted by the fire alarm and it was a REAL fire.)

The two last ones was in Dallas. First a fire in a room at Extended Stay America Frankford caused by a guest that was trying to prepare some sausage links, the oil in the pan caught fire and he had that half second of a brain fart and threw a pitcher of water in the burning pan.

He ended up "medium rare", the kitchen was "well done" and it wasn't worse because of the sprinklers.

The other one was at Hyatt Place Plano. A guest under influence on the 6th floor simply had to kill a monster spider on the curtain (actually in his head only) using deodorant and a lighter. In 30 seconds the fire sprinkler water was flooding the front lobby.

He destroyed nearly 50% of the hotel to kill a spider. Oi? WTF?

It makes me wonder...

Do people here in the US have some sort of fire safety training other than that cartoon with the talking cricket? When i remember episodes like that, I wonder if a brain is optional when you make babies here in the USA.

You failed on not checking the dryer BEFORE you plug it. It was bad but not something absurd. Everybody makes mistakes. But on the other hand you used your brain and at least you knew how to use a fire extinguisher.

It is scary and shocking to know that in 2018, over 40% of Americans have absolutely no idea how to use fire extinguisher (i mean, pull the ring and press the trigger). 35% don't know how to pull a fire alarm pull station (whaaaaat? People don't know that you just need to pull the handle?) and 12% don't know that the emergency number is 911.

Post# 1000035 , Reply# 9   7/11/2018 at 16:28 by Dustin92 (Jackson, MI)        

I remember way back in school we were taught fire safety and how to use an extinguisher, but when push comes to shove all that goes out the window... I was frantically trying to pull the trigger, before removing the pin. If you aren't in an emergency situation, it's easy to remember how it's supposed to be done, but when you're in a panic, good luck.

Post# 1000047 , Reply# 10   7/11/2018 at 19:16 by thomasortega (Los Angeles - CA)        

Yep, that's why constant training and frequent drills are important,

First thing is DO NOT PANIC!
1 second more or one second less won't make any difference.

Other mistake most people do when usign extinguishers is get too excited about squeezing the trigger.

Small bursts are usually enough and will reduce the mess.

Also, remember an average "kitchen" extinguisher discharges in 6 to 8 seconds. So you have to remain calm and use this little resource efficiently.

Post# 1000079 , Reply# 11   7/12/2018 at 06:21 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Never open a dryer that is on fire inside. If you have metal venting,  turn it off and the lack of air and gas will cause the fire to go out. Then you can turn it to air fluff, provided no clothing is burning, and the dryer will pull the smoke outside. Meanwhile, it is contained in the cabinet. There was a discussion here about tests for the ability of dryers to contain fires some time back.

Post# 1000081 , Reply# 12   7/12/2018 at 06:42 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
Reply #11:

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That won't work if the motor is the component which has failed.

Post# 1000105 , Reply# 13   7/12/2018 at 12:56 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Motors are generally thermally protected, but a rare short could occur. Add to what I said, "unplug the dryer."

Post# 1000162 , Reply# 14   7/13/2018 at 06:46 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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"Then you can turn it to air fluff... and the dryer will pull the smoke outside."

If the motor has failed, the smoke won't go anywhere, especially if the machine has one motor driving the drum and fan. We had that happen to us once, and the kitchen filled with clouds of acrid smoke. It took weeks to get rid of the stench.

Post# 1000164 , Reply# 15   7/13/2018 at 07:06 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Remember this acronym, it's part of our required annual safety education:

P - pull the pin

A - aim at the base of the fire

S - squeeze the handles together

S - sweep side to side

Post# 1000171 , Reply# 16   7/13/2018 at 11:29 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

This was not a motor; Read, Please. It was a mouse nest in the tube above the burner. Fire was coming thru the heat inlet grill into the drum. It was not coming out of the cabinet.

Post# 1000253 , Reply# 17   7/14/2018 at 04:47 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        

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I didn't bloody well say it was in this case!

What I said was that it won't work IF (note the conditional 'if'!) the motor has knackered up!

But you, with your pious 'know it all attitude' apparently knows everything.

You sir, can take a running jump - right into the tide - for all I care.

Post# 1000336 , Reply# 18   7/15/2018 at 00:07 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

I was just responding to the real situation as stated. You had to interject a factor which did not exist either in the situation or in the machine's construction. Gey kaken afn yam.

Post# 1000345 , Reply# 19   7/15/2018 at 06:45 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland, UK)        
"Gey kaken afn yam"

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Dicht yer neb an flee up.

Post# 1000400 , Reply# 20   7/16/2018 at 08:34 by wft2800 (Leatherhead, Surrey)        

OI! You two! Yer bahookies are oot the windie! Keep it civil - it's only an old dryer you're arguing about, not a matter of life and death!

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