Each year, there are thousands of dryer fires that cause death and injuries and result in millions of dollars in damage. In some cases, faulty appliances are to blame, but most fires can be prevented with proper dryer cleaning and venting maintenance.
How a Clothes Dryer Fire Occurs
Lint is a highly combustible material that is produced in the drying process. Normally it is blasted away from the dryer through the exhaust vent. When lint accumulates and clogs up the dryer ductwork, it chokes the airflow and causes heat to build up in the exhaust duct, creating ideal conditions for a fire.
Traditionally, most clothes dryers were placed in the basement, usually against an outside wall. Today, many newer homes have dryers located on the main or second floor, often away from outside walls. These new locations mean dryers need to be vented longer distances with sharp turns and bends. Not only does this create more places for lint to gather, but also, it makes cleaning difficult since the vents are harder to reach.
Inside the Dryer
Most people assume the lint traps catch all the lint and they just have to clean them out after each load. Unfortunately, a significant amount of lint is not caught by the trap and builds up inside the dryer – even on the heating element – causing the dryer to overheat and possibly catch fire.
Outside the Dryer
Flimsy plastic or foil duct extenders should be avoided. They are easily kinked or crushed during installation restricting airflow, and the spiral wound surfaces tend to catch more lint. We recommend only solid metal ducts and vents be used to allow the air and lint to be carried safely out of the house.
Don’t let your dryer become a firetrap. Keep your dryer as lint free as possible. Not only will you reduce the risk of fire, you’ll save money, as your dryer runs more efficiently and lasts longer. Since clogged vents cause most dryer fires, be sure to disconnect, clean and inspect your ductwork on a regular basis.
Finally, never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or even worse, when you are asleep. Thoroughly read manufacturers’ instructions regarding the safe use of their dryers. If all else fails, you can always use an old fashioned clothesline. There have never been any reported clothesline fires!