You’re probably aware that household clothes dryers are a potential fire hazard. But do you realize how hazardous they really are?
The National Fire Protection Association estimates 17,000 home dryer fires are reported each year. This makes clothes dryers one of the leading causes of household fires in the country!
These fires result in roughly $236 million in property damage, 380 injuries, and 51 deaths annually—which means we should all be doing as much as we can to prevent household dryer fires.
And given the fact that approximately 34% of clothes dryer fires are caused by dangerous buildups in dryer vents, that means it’s your responsibility to keep your dryer vent as clean as possible.
To that end, here’s what you need to know about what causes dryer fires and how they start. With this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to protect your home and your family from fire hazards!
Contributing Factors of Home Dryer Fires
The two primary causes of clothes dryer fires are:
- Lint buildup
- Airflow restriction
Lint, as you probably know, is a highly combustible material. This makes lint accumulation a major fire hazard. And when there’s poor ventilation due to improperly designed ductwork, the hot air from the dryer has nowhere to go. This combination of flammable materials and unmitigated heat can often lead to tragic results.
How to Prevent Home Dryer Fires
Therefore, to minimize your risk of having a dryer fire at home, you need to avoid lint buildup and increase airflow. Below are some ways to do that.
To improve airflow:
- Be sure the dryer’s exhaust duct is venting to the outside of your building (not the attic or basement).
- Use an exhaust duct made of solid metal—not vinyl or foil, which are highly combustible and usually come in accordion or spiral designs that catch lint easily.
- When installing a dryer duct in a tightly confined space, do not bend or crush the duct. This will greatly restrict airflow.
- Make the length of your exhaust duct as short as possible.
- Optimize ductwork dimensions for airflow: use a vent pipe that’s 4 inches in diameter and an exterior exhaust hood that has an opening of 16 square inches.
To reduce lint buildup:
- Clean out the lint trap after each load of laundry.
- Use a lint brush or vacuum attachment to occasionally remove hard-to-reach lint from the corners and crevices of your lint trap.
- Every few years, hire a technician to take apart your unit and thoroughly vacuum it out. (Many people don’t realize that lint collects inside the unit itself; the lint trap doesn’t catch it all.)
- Every few years, hire a ductwork specialist to inspect and clean your ducts.
There you have it! By following these safety guidelines, you’ll dramatically decrease your risk of experiencing a dryer fire at home.
If you have any questions or need any other help with your dryer, don’t hesitate to call All Brands Appliance Repair!