Help prevent clothes dryer fires
Dryer vent safety. This is an item in many homes that is seldom or never maintained properly, and it should be regularly.
The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) reports from 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 15,970 home structure fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines each year.
These fires caused an annual average of 13 civilian deaths, 444 civilian injuries, and $238 million in direct property damage. The vast majority of fires (92%) involved clothes dryers.
The leading items first ignited in dryer fires were dust, fiber or lint (26% of total) and clothing (26%). The leading cause (31%) of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean.
Here are some clues that your dryer vent might be clogged (Some of this list is from the NFPA):
- A musty odor is discovered in the clothing following the drying cycle.
- Clothes seem unusually hot to the touch.
- Excessive heat is noticed in the room in which the washer and dryer are operated.
- The dryer vent hood flap does not open properly when you use the dryer (this is the slitted vent opening to the exterior of your home).
- Debris is noticed within the outside dryer vent opening.
- Large amounts of lint build-up in the lint trap during each cycle.
- Odor noticed from dryer sheets used during the drying cycle.
- Cloths aren’t dry after a normal drying cycle.
Here’s what you need to do to help prevent a dryer fire:
- Read the installation guide and owner’s manual that come with the dryer. If you do not feel you can do the installation yourself, hire a professional. Most retail appliance store offer installation at a reasonable price.
- Clean the lint screen inside the dryer after each load and check it before each load to make sure it’s clean.
- It’s recommended that you clean out the dryer vent tube every three months to prevent a build up of lint and dust. There are inexpensive kits sold online and at the hardware stores and home centers.
- Make sure the outside dryer vent has a door or flap to keep out rain and snow. It will also help to prevent birds from nesting in the tube.
- Make sure the outside dryer vent door opens when the dryer is in use.
- Do not use any kind if screening over the outside vent tube. Screens can trap lint and dust.
- If you don’t have a proper cover on you outside dryer vent tube, go to the hardware store, get one and install it. They are inexpensive.
- Never run your dryer when you are not at home or when you are sleeping.
- Do not store any chemicals near or around your dryer.