The National Fire Protection Association reports that in the first five years of this decade, clothes dryers and washing machines accounted for 15,970 house fires. These incidents accounted for an estimated $238 million in property damage, 440 injuries, and at least 13 deaths. A staggering 92%, or 14,670, of these fires, involved a dryer.
Studies show that a typical family of four does an average of ten loads of laundry per week. Many households end up running their dryer every day. It’s easy to overlook such a commonly used device and hard to think of it as a fire hazard. To help protect your family and home, our team of experts at ServiceMaster Restore® has compiled a list of six dryer related recommendations.
Empty the Lint Filter After Every Load
Lint is a contributing factor in approximately one-third of all dryer fires. These fine fibers can quickly rise to a temperature hot enough to ignite if exposed to a dryer’s heat. The filter is designed to trap lint in a safe zone. Failure to regularly clean it out will lead to a dangerous buildup. So, consistently emptying lint will also help a dryer run more efficiently, completing loads faster and saving money on energy costs.
Always Run the Dryer with a Working Lint Filter
Without a working filter, a dryer is unable to capture lint in its safe zone. Every load of laundry produces some amount of lint. If these fibers are not trapped, they will make their way to the inner mechanism of the dryer or the dryer’s duct. This situation is an extreme danger that can lead to a fire. If your filter has holes in it from regular wear or damage, replace it immediately. Be sure the replacement part is the correct one for your unit as an incorrectly sized unit is as dangerous as a damaged one.
Regularly Verify the Air Exhaust System is Working Properly
The air exhaust system is an often-overlooked component of a clothes dryer. The duct directs hot air out of the dryer to an outdoor flap. This flap vents the hot air outside and away from your home. Should any part of this system become corrupted, a fire could develop.
A visual inspection every month is recommended to verify the exhaust system is working correctly. This check should include looking for any blockages in the duct and ensuring that the outdoor flap is not blocked. Some
Also, pay attention to how your dryer is operating. If clothes are taking longer than usual to dry, it’s a good sign something is wrong. If you notice any strange smells when running the dryer, turn it off immediately.
A homeowner can often handle a small problem like a duct blockage, but more severe issues or any damage should be taken care of by a professional.
Replace Accordion Style Ducts
Older or cheaper dryer installations use ducts made out of foil or plastic. These materials easily sag and kink. By doing so, they trap lint in areas that can be difficult to remove, leading to another significant fire risk. Newer ducts are made of more rigid metal that is not only safer but also often leads to lower drying times.
Avoid Dryer Overload
With so much laundry to do, it is tempting to stuff as much as possible into each load. However, overloading a dryer with wet clothing, towels, or bedding compromises its ability to ventilate. This situation can lead to overheating and fire. Consult your machine’s manual to verify the maximum load your dryer can safely accommodate.
Never Leave a Dryer Unattended
It is all too easy to put a load of laundry in your dryer and leave to run errands. This mistake can be tragic. If a fire starts in your dryer, and no one is around to extinguish it or call 9-1-1, the flames can burn through your home, leading to a total loss. Fires caught early are often able to be confined.
Even the most vigilant homeowner can still fall prey to accidents. If smoke and fire have damaged your home, ServiceMaster Restore is here to help. Our residential fire and smoke damage removal services are designed to return your property to normal as fast as possible. Using state of the art equipment, our expert team is trained to handle even the most devastating situations. We will work with you every step of the way until you can get back home.