Fire Recovery Realities

Dryer Scares: 5 Ways To Prevent Dryer-Related Fire Hazards

by Matthew Fields

Did you know that your home's dryer could be the cause of a fire in your home? With data that was compiled between 2008 and 2010, there nearly 3,000 residential fires caused by clothes dryers, resulting in hundreds of serious and fatal injuries. In 28 percent of those fires, dust, lint and fiber were the primary items that ignited, and it was determined that 34 percent of those fires were a result of owners failing to clean their dryers adequately. With that being said, it is important that you take these steps to keep your dryer in good shape to avoid an unnecessary fire hazard: 

1. Keep Dryer Vent Hoses as Short and Straight as Possible.

The longer the hoses are, the more likely lint can accumulate inside them. This is because the lint has further to travel and more space to build-up. The same is true with the bends, so try to keep the dryer vent hoses short and straight.

2. Make Sure the Dryer Is Set Away from the Wall.

It isn't uncommon to place a dryer right up against the wall. However, this can create some serious heating issues due to reduced airflow and a squished dryer vent. It doesn't need a lot of clearance, as a few inches will likely do. Ultimately, just make sure that air can flow between the wall and the back of the dryer and that the dryer vent hose is not crushed. 

3. Keep Your Dryer's Lint Trap Clean at All Times.

Make it a habit to start emptying the lint trap and/or screen each time you take a load of laundry out of the dryer (or before you put another load in). This will ensure that large amounts of lint never accumulate and potentially cause damage. When you take the lint screen out, use a coil-cleaning brush to run along the inside of the lint trap. You can then use a shop vacuum to suck up any leftover dirt and lint.

4. Regularly Clean Your Dryer Ducting (Here's How!).

You should keep your dryer vent cleaned out as regularly as possible. To do this, you will first need to make sure to turn the power or gas off to the dryer. Next, grab your shop vac that you used to clean on the lint trap and pull the dryer out from the wall. You will disconnect the exhaust ducting that connects the dryer and the wall. You will use your shop vac to suck up any loose dirt, lint and other debris from both the wall and the dryer ports. You should also use it on the ducting itself. Since the dryer is pulled out, go ahead and vacuum the back of the appliance and the wall. This helps to remove as much lint as possible and leads to a much safer laundry room.   

5. Keep an Eye on the Exterior Vent.

With your exterior vent, it isn't uncommon for rodents, birds and bugs to use it as a home. So, it is important that you check it regularly to make sure that this hasn't happened. Otherwise, you could experience a build-up of gasses and an inefficient dryer. You can also use a brush or shop vac to clean it out as well on a regular basis.  

If you would like to have a professional to perform a thorough inspection and cleaning of your dryer and its ducting, contact an HVAC expert in your area to schedule an appointment. 

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