Preventing Dryer Fires
The U.S. Fire Administration reports that about 2,900 dryer fires occur in homes throughout the nation every year. This leads to about five deaths and 100 injuries. Additionally, dryer fires cost up to about $35 million in property loss. Because dryers can be extremely dangerous, you should know what can cause fires and how to prevent them in order to keep you and your family safe.
What Causes Dryer Fires?
Dryers use extremely hot air to dry out clothing. If the dryer cannot work properly or you use them for other purposes than what they were intended for, you are at risk for experiencing a dryer fire.
- Lack of Maintenance: This is the leading cause of dryer fires throughout the nation. Lint can become trapped in the exhaust venting, blocking the flow of air from the dryer to the outside. If it gets hot enough, that lint can actually catch fire.
- Insufficient Airflow: In addition to lint blocking the exhaust vent, crushing or kinking the vent can also prevent sufficient airflow.
- Drying Combustible Materials: Clothing that has come into contact with certain chemicals or items that are not meant to be dried in the dryer can combust due to the heat.
How do I Know if My Dryer is Working Correctly?
Your dryer may not be working correctly if your clothes are not drying as fast as they normally would, if the clothes are extremely hot to the touch when you remove them or if you cannot open the vent hood flapper. If the dryer is older, this can be an indication that it needs maintenance to get it working properly again. This may include having a professional ensure that the venting materials are not blocked. If the dryer is new, there may be a few other things going on.
How to Reduce Dryer Fires
Preventing dryer fires starts the moment you install your new dryer yourself or have something install your dryer for you. Improper installation can quickly lead to a potentially dangerous dryer fire. You should check to make sure that your dryer venting is made from a metallic material. Vinyl and foil can both combust and put you at risk for experiencing a dryer fire. You should also check to make sure that the dryer vents directly to the exterior of the home and not into the basement or crawlspace. Avoid crushing or kinking the dryer duct; this means that there should be space between the dryer and the wall. If you want your dryer to be up against the wall to save space, you should look into a dryerbox.
Lint is a known fire hazard that tends to get everywhere after you’ve owned and run your dryer for some time. Depending on how often you use your dryer, it is recommended that you have a professional take apart your dryer once every year to three years to remove any lint that may have accumulated around your dryers vent. This way, any lint that became trapped in the vent directly behind the dryer will be removed, thus reducing the risk of a dryer fire. In between professional maintenance, you’ll also want to vacuum out the area beneath the lint trap.
Stay Vigilant When it Comes to Your Dryer
Because you likely rely on your dryer to keep your clothing nice and clean, keeping your home safe should be a priority. Thoroughly read the manufacturer’s instructions so you know how to properly take care of your dryer. You should only ever run the dryer when you’re at home and when you are awake. This way, if a fire does start, you can act quickly to keep you and your family safe.