Becker & Poliakoff

UPDATE: Dryer Vent Regulations Are Being Enforced by the Local Fire Safety Officials

UPDATE: Dryer Vent Regulations Are Being Enforced by the Local Fire Safety Officials

Hopefully, everyone is aware that most Associations’ insurance Companies have been recommending/requiring regular dryer vent cleaning and/or repair (usually every two (2) or three (3) years). Many associations have adopted Resolutions that govern when Owners must perform cleanings and inspection and engage professionals to make needed repairs to the dryer vents to prevent fire hazards.   Additionally, every home/unit owner and resident should be concerned with birds from flying into and nesting in their dryer vents since fires have occurred when lint and other items, such as nests for birds and rodents, have been stuck in the dryer vent.  They can also be the source of parasites and hazardous pathogens when left unattended or cleaned.  Such conditions can create serious fire hazards, placing Homes/Units in jeopardy. To help prevent these hazards there are rules and regulations that homeowners should follow to avoid risk of substantial harm to persons and property.

Starting in October of 2023, town fire safety officials started contacting community managers and Boards to advise that they were starting to enforce Section 504 of the 2021 International Mechanical Code, which states in pertinent part that: “Dryer exhaust ducts for clothes dryers shall terminate on the outside of the building and shall be equipped with a backdraft damper.” and “Screens shall not be installed at the duct termination.” Additionally, some municipal Fire Prevention officers, in consultation with their Construction office, have determined that section 504.4 also prohibits “cages” from being installed over the dryer vents. Thus requiring items like open plastic cages and smaller aperture wire meshes to be removed immediately from dryer vents due to the fire safety problems they have determined are inherent in those systems.  Further, section 504.1 states that dryers “shall be exhausted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.” Since most major dryer vent manufactures prohibit cages, all managers should immediately have an inspection performed by a professional to look at the dryer vent covers on each Unit/Home and notify the homeowners of the need for removal of the obstruction.

There are certain types of vents that sufficiently allow for the required vent airflow, but also prevent debris, birds and rodents from entering the vent duct itself.

A vent cover that has been pre-approved in at least one municipality is represented in the picture below, which can also be viewed here. In addition, a copy of the entire Section 504, entitled “Clothes Dryer Exhaust”, is attached for your reference and can be viewed here, which also addresses items such as the prohibition now of booster fans. (Section 504.6)

It is important for associations to consult with their legal counsel to determine the responsibilities for compliance with Section 504.6 and to prevent the imposition of any applicable fines for non-compliance.