Duct tape is versatile, readily available, and affordable. When something needs to be repaired, it’s almost instinctual to reach for the roll. However, despite its reputation as the ultimate household solution, duct tape has limitations, particularly when it comes to high-heat conditions.
Dryers represent these high-heat situations, and putting duct tape into your dryer is not going to end well, and the bad ending can take a number of different forms.
Duct tape should not be used or put in the dryer. It cannot withstand the high temperatures. The adhesive degrades, and the tape will lift off of repairs. In addition, the tape can melt, damaging clothes and the dryer parts as well as causing vent blockages that increase fire and combustion gas-exposure risks.
Duct Tape Cannot Withstand High Heat
Duct tape may seem like a great option for quick fixes around the house, and it has the advantage that it takes a lot to make it ignite.
Despite its many advantages, duct tape can’t be used effectively at high temperatures.
Even though it is not very flammable, it doesn’t maintain its function when it is too hot.
The reason for this is that duct tape is comprised of fabric mesh coated in polyethylene, and the stuff that makes it sticky is a rubber adhesive.
This adhesive is made of polymers that bind objects together through attractive forces between the molecules of the tape and those of the object to which the tape is being applied.
However, for the adhesive to be sticky and effective, it needs to be relatively hard so that it can resist movement and keep the objects stuck together.
Just like ice melts when it is hot, high temperatures make the adhesive less hard, so it stops sticking at high temperatures.
This process accelerates from about 140 ºF, and at higher temperatures, the rubber components also begin to melt.
Heat Produced by a Dryer
The temperature within a dryer is affected by a few factors.
These factors include:
- How big the load of clothing is.
- What heat cycle is used.
- How damp the clothes are.
- The room temperature.
- The airflow in the dryer vents, with restricted airflow, resulting in higher temperatures.
Generally, the temperatures within dryers range from 125 ºF to 135 ºF. Some models manufactured before the early 1990s have higher internal temperatures.
For models that operate at 120 volts, temperatures of about 145 ºF are reached during operation.
Problems With Putting Duct Tape in the Dryer
Dryers operate at high temperatures to dry the clothes within them.
As we have seen, duct tape cannot stick effectively at these temperatures, and so it shouldn’t be used in dryers for internal repairs.
Although most dryers should have a temperature range of 125 ºF to 135 ºF, and duct tape will melt at around 140 ºF, it is not wise to risk using duct tape with such little wiggle room.
Since dryer temperatures are also affected by the factors listed above, if the room temperature is higher, or if there is a slight blockage to the airflow, it won’t take much for the temperature to increase.
These high temperatures mean that the duct tape won’t stay sticky and may even melt. This means that even if you aren’t using it to repair the dryer, it can cause problems by simply being present.
If the duct tape melts, there will be a bunch of goo that you will need to clean off your clothes.
More importantly, the melted duct tape can interfere with the working parts of the dryer and cause them to malfunction.
This means that your clothes won’t dry properly, and you may need to replace some of the dryer parts.
The interference with dryer function can also result in increased electricity consumption and reduced life span of the dryer.
The most alarming repercussion is that if dryer vents are blocked by duct tape, it can be a fire risk or result in the backflow of combustion gases into the dryer and, therefore, the house.
The fire risk arises because blocking the vents can lead to heat buildup and trapped lint (flammable), such that the machine can overheat and cause fires.
In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, approximately 15,500 fires caused by clothes dryers occur each year on average, and a major contributor to these fires is blocked vents due to failure to clean them.
Hence, using material such as duct tape that will melt, make a mess, and cause a fire hazard in a dryer is not a good idea.