How to Prevent a Dryer Fire
Every year, firefighters across the country respond to around 14,630 home fires caused by clothes dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Unfortunately, most dryer related fires can be prevented. An estimated 34 percent of these fires occur due to failure to clean the machines. Most dryer fires happen in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.
If dryer fires are relatively common, but preventable, what you can you do to make sure a fire doesn’t occur at your home? Here’s how to prevent an incident:
Clean Your Lint Filter
The most common cause of a clothes dryer fire is lint build-up and reduced airflow. Lint is an extremely combustible material.
The built-up lint eventually sparks and catches fire. Usually lint will simply burn inside of a dryer and leave a burning smell along with damage to the dryer, but oftentimes the machine catches on fire. If the fire is severe enough or the flames spread, the fire can destroy an entire home.
The lint screen should be cleaned before and after each load, no matter how small the amount of lint is. This will also build the habit of constant cleaning.
Take Care When Washing Stained Items
Clothes stained with flammable chemicals or substances, such as gas, cooking oil, cleaning agents, or paint thinners, need special care. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends washing the clothing more than once to minimize the volatile chemicals, then hanging to dry. If you must use a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that concludes with a cool-down period.
In the event that a fire does start, keep the dryer door closed, as a fire needs oxygen to keep it going.
Clean the Vent Line
Cleaning should not only take place inside of vent hoses and inside of dryers, but also outside of the machines.
The vent line is the wall area that is behind the dryer and goes toward the outside flap of the dryer. This area should never be restricted or clogged up with lint. The chance of a dryer fire increases if this area is clogged.
If this area is too difficult for you to reach and clean yourself, reach out to a professional chimney sweep or cleaning service.
Maintain a Clear Drying Space
The entire surrounding area near a dryer should be clean and free of debris. No clothes, towels, cleaning supplies, or other materials should be gathered outside of a dryer.
This extra clutter, especially if cleaning supplies or flammable materials are present, will enhance the chance of a fire spreading across the home if one sparks. Fires spread rapidly, and anything that can contribute to that spread should be removed.
How Do You Know a Dryer is Failing?
If your clothes are taking a longer than normal time to dry, are hotter than usual, or any other out of the ordinary issue occurs, your lint dryer needs to be checked. In order to check the dryer, reach out to maintenance professionals.
- Never use a dryer if the lint filter is missing, loose, or damaged.
- Avoid overloading the dryer.
- Frequently check that nests of animals or insects are not blocking vents.
- If your dryer is gas powered, it should be inspected by a professional once a year. The professional should ensure that gas lines are connected and no leaks are present.