According to a 2007 report from the U.S. Fire Administration, clothes dryers account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths and 400 injuries annually. The leading factor in these fires: failure to perform dryer and dryer vent cleaning. Let's take a look at how a dryer catches fire and the steps you can take to prevent such an accident from happening in your home.
Dryer Fires 101
The actual drying of your clothes creates lint. The dryer's filter catches much of the lint, but some makes its way into the venting system. As the lint accumulates there, it becomes a highly flammable fuel source. Add to it other debris such as a bird or other animal nest nestled on top, and the dryer cannot vent properly. When the appliance does not have adequate ventilation, it can overheat and cause the lint and other debris to ignite. The clothes in your dryer and any other nearby combustibles also can catch fire.
How to Prevent Dryer Fires
Clean the lint filter after every load. Once a month, soak the filter in dishwashing soap and warm water, then scrub it with your hands to dislodge any stuck material. Rinse well and check it for any tears, and replace if damaged.
Vacuum lint out of the dryer and exhaust pipe at least every six months, more often if you do laundry several times a week. Since you will need to pull the dryer away from the wall and remove the back panel, this makes an excellent job for your handyman.
Disconnect, clean and inspect the dryer duct and venting at least once a year. Again, dryer vent cleaning proves a perfect job for your professional handyman , as accessing and cleaning the venting may require the use of a ladder and special tools. Your handyman also can replace an incorrect or damaged exhaust hose and/or pipe. The hose should be UL-listed rigid aluminum or steel duct, or spiral-wound aluminum flex hose, and the pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends.
Additional Benefits from Dryer Vent Cleaning
A dryer with adequate ventilation dries clothes more quickly than one without. In addition to reducing fire hazards in your home, proper cleaning and maintenance of your appliance and its venting system will result in lower monthly electric bills. It also will lengthen the life of your dryer, allow you to replace the appliance less frequently.
Dryer Vent Installation and Repair
You never know what you might find in your dryer vent. One of our technicians found this bird nest inside a vent of a home they recently serviced. No wonder the clothes were taking so long to dry. While most vents will last a long time with regular cleaning service, sometimes they do need repair or replacement. Not only can our technicians install or repair the vents, they can help with appliance installation as well.
Make Over Your Laundry Room
When your handyman visits talk with him about your laundry room setup. If the room does not allow for proper workflow or does not have enough storage for your needs, he can suggest the addition of cabinets and shelves and also move appliances if necessary. If, heaven forbid, you do ever have a fire ignite in your dryer venting system, the last thing you want nearby are additional combustibles such as stacks of boxes or other flammable products.
Learn more about dryer fires and maintenance.