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How to prevent dryer fires

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

There could be a hidden danger in your home right now masquerading as a mere nuisance. Clogged dryer vents decrease drying efficiency leading to longer drying times and wasted power, but if left untreated an obstructed vent can lead to disaster.

Dryers and washing machines cause an average of 15,970 fires each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association, with dryers accounting for a staggering 92% of them. Even worse, these fires lead to an estimated 5 deaths, hundreds of injuries and approximately $238 million in property damage annually.

Here are some tell tale signs of a clogged dryer vent.

  • Musty odor in clothing

  • Clothes exceedingly hot to touch

  • Dryer vent flap on the outside of the home not opening properly while drying

  • Lint and debris stuck in the trap during each cycle

How to prevent a dryer fire

  • Read the manufacturers’ instructions and warnings upon installation

  • Have the dryer installed by a knowledgeable professional

  • Use the correct plug with the correct outlet

  • Clean the lint filter after each load

  • Wash and clean the lint filter every six months with a wire brush

  • Inspect and clean the dryer vent pipe every three months

  • Check the back of the dryer for additional lint build up. It's very flammable

  • Ensure that no garments have fallen behind the dryer

  • Keep the dryer hose to the vent free of kinks and crimps

  • Make sure there is cover on the outdoor vent that opens and closes during drying cycle, and regularly check for exterior obstructions

Additional tips

  • Have your dryer vents professionally cleaned from the dryer to the outside wall annually

  • Do not put clothes soiled by flammable compounds like gas, oil, and alcohol in the dryer, as they may ignite from the heat. Ensure these garments have been washed numerous times before drying to remove these substances from the clothing.

  • Avoid putting items with rubber backing, such as floor mats, in the dryer as they may be a potential fire hazard

  • It is also advised not to let the dryer run unattended while sleeping or away from the home.

  • For gas dryers, it’s important to periodically check both the lines and connections. Look for leaks and improper or lose fittings. This should be done by a professional once per year

Recognize when it's time to replace your dryer

Remember, old worn out parts can cause electrical failures and sparks. The average life of a dryer is 10-13 years at most, depending on how well it is maintained. If your dryer parts are no longer manufactured, it's time to consider replacement. An added benefit of upgrading to a modern dryer is the efficiency. Newer dryers dry faster and are more energy efficient, saving you time and money. If the dryer is running for longer than it should because it’s aged or faulty, you are potentially playing with fire and spending more than you should. Save yourself the headache and the risk. Replace it.

Dryer fires are a risk, but are easily preventable

Basic upkeep and regular maintenance on your dryer will minimize the risk of a dryer fire and save you money by keeping your dryer running as efficiently as possible.

If it's time to replace your dryer, check out our list of preferred independent dealers here

Appliances are a major purchase. You don't need to see five-star reviews from people buying nails and paint. Check our review section for big box store appliance delivery and installation specific reviews here

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