Is your dryer a Fire Hazard?

Modern appliances can be a real convenience but we often take them for granted. Without proper maintenance and care they can not only cost you money due to reduced energy efficiency, they can become a hazard to your home. Lint and other debris can build up in your dryer vent, reducing air flow to the dryer, backing up dryer exhaust gases, creating a fire hazard. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 15,000 fires are sparked every year by clothes dryers. Many manufacturers recommend having your dryer vent cleaned every couple of years or so to keep your dryer working efficiently andsafely.

Signs it’s time to clean your dryer vent:

  • After a normal drying cycle (35-40 minutes) your clothes are not completely dry
  • You notice increased amounts of lint accumulating in the lint filter after drying cycle.
  • Clothing seems unusually hot to the touch after a complete drying cycle.
  • A musty odor is noticed in the clothing following the drying cycle.
  • The dryer vent hood flap does not properly open as it is designed to do during the operation of the dryer.
  • The room the dryer is located in seems excessively hot after dryer operation.

While DYI vent cleaning kits are available. Angie’s List Founder, Angie Hicks recommends you leave dryer vent cleaning to the professionals. “They have the proper tools and additionally they know whether your dryer vent meets code and they can fix it if it doesn’t.” One advantage to having an experienced, qualified and reliable professional clean your system is that he or she has likely seen just about every make and model and will likely be able to clean the interior components more efficiently than you will. Plus, you’ll have the assurance that the job was done correctly and safely.

In addition to having your dryer vent cleaned periodically, the National Fire Protection Agency has a list of recommendations you can do to prevent fire hazards from your dryer.

Tips for Dryer Safety

  • Do not use the dryer without a lint filter, and make sure you clean the filter before or after each use.
  • Limit the use of dryer sheets used when drying clothing.
  • Only operate clothing dryers for intervals of 30 to 40 minutes per batch of laundry. This allows more air circulation within the dryer and less lint build up from occurring.
  • When possible hang clothing such as heavy bedding, pillows and other large articles outside to line dry.
  • Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used (as opposed to flexible plastic or foil venting) to sustain proper air flow and drying time.
  • Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating.
  • Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.

Your family and home’s safety is important, so the next time you start thinking about spring cleaning or getting ready for summer – take the time to consider your dryer vent. If you have any additional questions, call the experts at Western for more information.