How to Prevent Dryer Fires
Dryer fires are a very real danger and unfortunately, we’ve seen them happen in the homes of some of our own clients. Each year, U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 15,000 home fires involving clothes dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires kill or injure over 400 people per year and cause upwards of $220 million in property damage. About one-third of these fires are brought on by a build-up of dryer lint. This problem affects both gas and electric dryers. So what steps can you take to prevent dryer fires? Read on.
Tips for How to Prevent Dryer Fires
- The primary culprit is lint, which is extremely flammable. A lint build-up is a major fire hazard. Consumer Reports suggests cleaning your lint filter after cycle. Use a dryer lint brush like this one to clean out places you cannot reach.
- Double (and triple) check that your venting leads outside. Even venting that leads to a garage or crawl space can mean trouble. Reroute it if need be.
- Make sure your vent pipes are in good condition; replace any that are damaged. Keep in mind that ductwork from the dryer to the exterior vent should never be longer than 35′ (and for every 90-degree turn, take 5” off this number).
- Always use metal vent pipes. Avoid flammable vinyl ducts as well as flexible ducts, as their ridges and can trap lint and house a build-up. Rather than metal screws (which can trap lint), use duct connectors and metal clamps or foil tape to connect sections of ductwork.
- Use 4” inch diameter vent pipe and an exterior exhaust hood with 16”+ square opening whenever possible. Such hoods have the least amount of airflow resistance. Also, vent hoods should be in good condition and use vent flaps (vs. screens) instead to avoid lint buildup.
- If your dryer is taking longer to dry your clothes than it used to, it usually means there is a blockage somewhere in your dryer vent system. Watch this tutorial on how to clean your dryer duct.
- Consider a lint alarm like this one.
- If any of your clothes have stains from gas, oil, cleaning agents, or other flammable chemicals, wash them more than once and let them air dry before putting them in your dryer again. Doing so will minimize the volatility of any chemicals in the stains, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
- Every few years, hire a professional to take apart and properly clean your dryer. As always, just contact us if you need a recommendation.
- Last, but perhaps most important, never run your dryer when the house is empty.
The Bottom Line
Always put safety first to prevent dryer fires!. Make sure your ductwork and venting is made with non-flammable materials and properly installed. Clean your lint filter every time you use the dryer and buy a lint brush to reach deeper into the machine. Ensure that your ductwork leads outside.
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