According to FEMA, dryer fires account for 2,900 residential fires every year. These fires result in an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and over $30 million in property damage. The main reason why these fires occur is failure to clean the dryer. For this reason, it is important to clean your clothes dryer regularly.
Follow these simple steps to prevent a dryer fire from occurring:
1. Clean the lint screen
Every dryer should have a lint screen installed that collects lint. It is important to clean the lint screen before every load of laundry. Clogged lint screens are not only a fire hazard, but also make your dryer work harder resulting in more energy use. If your dryer does not have a lint screen installed, do not operate the dryer until the lint screen is replaced.
2. Inspect the exhaust vent pipe
Clogged Dryer Exhaust Vent
Exhaust vent pipes transfer hot moist air from the dryer to the exterior of the home. This hot air can carry particles of lint which eventually collects at the exhaust vent. Dryer exhaust vents are typically located on the side of the home or on the roof. Exhaust vents located on the roof are typically more problematic since they are out of sight. When the dryer is running, you should feel air exiting the dryer vent. If you don’t feel any air, it could be an indication that the vent pipe is clogged and needs to be cleaned. There are companies that are dedicated to cleaning dryer exhaust vents. If you don’t feel comfortable doing the work yourself, consider calling on of these companies.
3. Avoid overloading the dryer
Drying multiple loads of laundry at once may be a tempting solution to save time but it can also be a fire hazard. Bigger loads of laundry will take longer to dry which can result in the dryer becoming hotter than normal. Consider breaking up larger loads of laundry into smaller loads. As a rule of thumb, leave at least a quarter of the dryer cavity free of clothes. This will allow the clothes to rotate better and avoid overloading the dryer.
4. Clean the area around the dryer
Dryer lint can sometimes accumulate behind the dryer where it is rarely seen by the occupants. Dryer lint is very flammable and can become a fire hazard if enough lint accumulates around the dryer. It is also important to remove flammable liquids like gasoline from the dryer area. This is especially important if the dryer is located in the garage.
5. Hire a professional
Regular dryer maintenance is important to ensure your dryer continues to work properly and that it is properly cleaned. Consider hiring a professional for regular maintenance. We recommend servicing your dryer at least twice a year by a professional. In between service visits, you should continue to remove built up lint from the dryer components. It is especially important to hire a professional if you notice any of these signs:
Dryer taking too long to dry clothes
Clothes are hotter than usual when you remove them from the dryer
Dryer gets hotter than usual as it is operating
You notice a burning smell coming from the dryer