Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Critters in the Dryer Vent

One cold, cold night this winter I was getting ready for bed when I heard a sound. You know the kind: that rustle-y whirring sound that says "critter in the house!" It is sort of heart stopping and I froze for a moment, wondering if I heard heard correctly. Then I heard it again.

One of the quirky things about me is that I have a terrible ear for directional sound. I am the last person in the car you want to ask if that clanking banging noise is coming from the passenger front tire or the driver rear. I simply have a really hard time in telling. (The advantage to this is that there is absolutely no point in me buying expensive stereo equipment.) I started tracking the sound and to the best that I could tell, it was coming from the laundry area.

This pretty much made no sense at all. I assumed it was a mouse, which is the most common house intruder here in Michigan, but if so, why was it in the laundry area? Why not be downstairs in the kitchen where the food was? Still, knowing my ability to track sound, a couple days later I had a friend over and asked them to listen. Sure enough, we happened to hear it - in the laundry area.

The laundry area is really just an upstairs closet with a washer and dryer in it. It was strange that in a space so small I couldn't see the little guy. Not knowing what else to do, I set traps. The traps stayed unsprung, but the rustling continued. What was going on?? Then finally, I figured it out...

There was a bird in my dryer vent. At some point my dryer vent cover had pretty much disintegrated and most of the cover had blown off. Now there was a 4" circle shaped hole in the wall. I couldn't really blame the bird - this was back when it was well below zero. Here was a perfect little shelter that was heated and warm. It was a story and a half up and safe from predators - it must have seemed like heaven! I knew how cold it was and I wouldn't have minded so much that he was in there (though I knew it couldn't last) if it weren't for the fact that he would start making noises about midnight. That dryer is not too far from my bed, so talk about waking up with a start!

There was no way I could fix it in the winter though. My washer and dryer are on the second floor which meant the only way to get at the vent was to get out my extension ladder. There was no way I was going to set that up in the snow and ice and go crawling up it! Plus, the ladder is mighty heavy and long and I am rather uncomfortable carrying it on my own. Even if I could, I have had two friends that have had severe accidents due to ladder mishaps, so I certainly am not going to go halfway up my house on a ladder without someone to hold it! I had to wait until the snow had melted and a friend could lend a hand.

That was back in January, and to be honest, I had kind of forgotten about it. That was, I did until Saturday afternoon I went to put some clothes in the dryer and heard a fluttering of wings! I decided it was time to fix the problem - the last thing I needed was to have a bird build a nest in there! I know I am on a No Spending Challenge for the month, but this constituted an emergency. I happened to have someone over who could help me, so the two of us took off to Lowe's. A new vent cover ran me about $3.45. With my friend's help, it was installed in less than 20 minutes.

I don't think the bird could have harmed the dryer, but I wasn't anxious to find out. The likelihood of finding a new dryer for under $4.00 is pretty slim!

Photo by: toyfoto


aloha.taboo said...

You might want to check the dryer hose to make sure it didn't leave anything in there. A block dryer hose could be very dangerous.

Dawn said...

Good point aloha! We did do that - we were able to get right up there and look. The vent opening is a good 4" wide so we were able to see right in. A little bird poo was all there was, fortunately.

Miss M said...

Aw, at least birdies are cute. But they can carry pests, my friend's house has a horrible problem with bird mites. We had a mouse a few months ago, the little bastard damaged a lot of wood work in my kitchen. Finally trapped him, err. At least your fix was cheap!

Dawn said...

Bird mites?!? Yikes!! Hopefully the hot air from the dryer blew out any mites that might have been on my house guest! My fix was cheep! hee!!