Do you ever have anxiety over dryer fire safety? Unfortunately, dryer fires are a very real possibility for every household. Ranging from clogged dryer vents to faulty wiring, there are many instances where a fire can spark in your dryer. Accounting for $35 million property loss each year (and counting), it’s important to clean and maintain your dryer as well as dryer vents to prevent future fires.
In this blog, we’ll discuss insight on clothes dryer fire safety as well as the importance of cleaning out your dryer vent.
Clothes Dryer Fire Facts and Stats
The average clothes dryer, which is found in 89 million U.S. homes, has caused an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. Fail to clean the dryer, and you’re at risk for a devastating clothes dryer fire. Dryer fire safety needs your attention for good reason: these machines get clogged with lint, which can become a blaze that quickly spreads across your home.
Fire safety is a concern every single day, but it’s especially important during the winter. That’s because more home clothes dryer fires happen in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
What Causes Dryer Fires?
Now that you know the seriousness behind dryer fires, it’s also important to consider what causes them to catch on fire in the first place.
According to the US Fire Administration, the leading cause of dryer fires is the failure to clean the dryer. Ensuring that you properly clean the clothes dryer helps reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out in your home.
How to Properly Clean a Clothes Dryer
Do you know how to clean a clothes dryer to prevent fires? One place to start is with the lint trap. There is a simple way to rid the dryer of lint and excess dust within the machine.
- The first step is to remove the screws from the top panel of the dryer and remove the top panel.
- The lint trap is located inside the dryer drum and is usually a lightweight metal mesh-like material. The lint trap can also be an actual wire mesh. A clogged lint trip can prevent it from closing properly, which can draw it into the motor and burn.
- You will want to clean the lint trap by hand after each drying cycle as well.
- Use a vacuum cleaner hose with a small brush attachment. After the hose is inserted into the dryer, the roller brush can be used to clean the lint trap.
- The simple method is to unplug the dryer and use a vacuum cleaner and hose. Begin by removing the filter located in the machine and vacuum the filter to eliminate any soot or lint build-up. Use an extension on the hose and vacuum the bottom of the dryer, venting and behind the dryer to eliminate any build-up of dust or pet hair. You should also vacuum all accessible areas of the dryer such as the top, sides and rear of the machine.
- Next, wipe down the outside of the machine. This will remove any dust or dirt that may have built up on the exterior.
Cleaning your clothes dryer on a regular basis helps extend the life of your dryer and allows for better-dried clothes when you’re finished. Not to mention, it will help prevent dryer fires as well.
Mechanical and Electrical Fire
Unfortunately, faulty wiring and mechanical problems can also cause dryer fires. Dryer fires can be a real danger in a home with a faulty wiring system or problems with mechanical parts. It is important to make sure that if any of these parts are malfunctioning, you can repair or replace them to eliminate the risk of a potentially deadly fire.
How do you prevent dryer fires from mechanical problems and faulty wiring? The key is to hire a professional for dryer installation. A professional will ensure the dryer is installed properly and safely. If you’re thinking of hiring someone to install your dryer, find a company with former customers willing to speak with you, and a company that has a reputation for prompt and friendly service.
Without proper or professional dryer installation, dryer fires can cause significant damage to your home.
Dryer Overload and High Heat Settings
When was the last time that you thought about the heat setting on your dryer? Be careful to choose the right setting. A high heat setting can leave scorch marks on your clothes, which means you’ll have to run them through the dryer cycle again. This can cause it to overheat, leading to a fire.
You’ll also want to never overload your dryer since it can cause it to overheat and start a fire. If your dryer is overheating, it may not be because of the lint screen or exhaust. Frequently overloading the dryer can lead to overheating and damage, so make sure you’re not constantly overloading the unit.
Remember that clothes need to toss freely in the dryer. If the clothes don’t have free space to move, then it’s likely that it’s overloaded.
A clothes dryer is useful for, well, drying clothes. It’s surprising to hear unsafe items that people try to put into clothes dryers, which unfortunately result in fires.
In addition to overloading the dryer, improper use is another reason why dryers catch on fire. When it comes to clothes dryers, only certain items are compatible. For example, a bathmat with rubber backing might be a fire hazard. Items made out of plastic, rubber, and foam are not recommended for the dryer because they could potentially be a fire hazard.
Cleaning Dryer Vents to Prevent Fires
If you are concerned about dryer fires, one aspect that you greatly need to consider is the dryer vent. You can’t effectively prevent your dryer from getting dirty without cleaning the vent regularly and it is important to do so on a regular basis. The vent is made of a flexible and metallic material. The system is both coated in a powdery substance that protects the vent from debris and makes it more durable. The powder tends to block air and can cause the vent to become clogged.
It is imperative that you take action to clean the dryer vents regularly to prevent fires from happening. When dryer lint builds up in the dryer vent, it easily catches fire. The reason behind this is that the lint will serve as kindling to the flames.
Signs that You Need to Clean Your Dryer Vents
Clothes dryers collect a ton of lint and dirt from time to time. Over time, this can build up in the duct between the dryer and the exterior vent outside your home.
What are the signs of a clogged dryer vent? When clothes take longer to dry, or when clothes never seem to dry completely. If you think your dryer may have an obstruction, you should stop the dryer at once, unplug it, and have a look inside. The duct should be cleaned at least every three months.
It’s important to inspect your dryer vent regularly. It could catch on fire, and if it’s clogged, the outside vent becomes a problem. The last part of the dryer system is the outside vent, so make sure you get this cleaned and inspected. The vents usually have automatic flaps that open up when the dryer is running to prevent heat from building up.
Do You Need to Replace Your Ducts?
There are different types of ducts, and some plastic ducts are flammable. Dust and lint can get trapped in the folds of the foil ribbed duct used by most dryers. That’s why it’s best to replace these with smooth ducts if you can.
But not just any duct will do. Make sure any replacement you need meets the specific requirements outlined by Underwriters Laboratories.
Get Help with Dryer Fire Safety and Prevention
Do you need help with dryer fire safety and prevention? We specialize in dryer vent cleaning, keeping this area clear of debris. For a quick inspection on dryer fire prevention, be sure to check:
- The dryer exhaust vent is not obstructed.
- The lint screen and filter in the dryer are clean.
- The duct from the dryer to the outside is unobstructed, lint-free, and has no clamps or screws holding it closed.
- The duct is not kinked or crushed.
If you are experiencing the signs of a clogged dryer vent, please give us a call as quickly as possible. The faster we clean your dryer vents, the sooner you can feel complete peace of mind and safety from potential dryer fires.