For many, the clothes dryer has become a necessity in the home. However, with careless use and improper maintenance, the dryer can become a house fire danger waiting to happen, causing incalculable smoke and fire damage to your property and belongings.
According to UL, clothes dryers can be found in over 80% of homes in the United States, and like most appliances, dryers need regular maintenance and upkeep to run correctly and safely. However, many consumers take them for granted. The CPSC estimates that clothes dryers directly cause 16,000 house fires a year, accounting for 10 deaths, 310 injuries and over $84 million dollars in damage annually. Most of these damages are caused by improper upkeep and usage of the dryer, including dirty lint traps, blocked ventilation and drying inappropriate items.
Taking basic steps to clean and maintain your clothes dryer effectively can prevent immeasurable damage to life and property.
One of the first signs of potential danger is when a typical load of clothing takes increasingly longer to dry. Because the dryer is designed to heat and vent moisture away from the clothing to the outdoors, a dryer that requires more than one cycle to properly dry a load can be a sign of a blocked vent to the outdoors.
Additionally, newer homes where a dryer is placed closer to the center of a structure can also be a clothes dryer hazard. This is because the venting has to run longer to vent outdoors. The longer then vent, the harder it is to extract lint from the unit, thereby increasing the risk of vent fires.
Time to Clean the Vent
Some signs that it’s time to clear the venting from your dryer to outside the home include:
- Taking more than one normal drying cycle to complete a typical load
- Drying time takes excess of 40 minutes to complete a load
- Clothing smells musty after the drying cycle
- Clothing is unusually hot to the touch following a typical drying cycle
- Dryer vent flap does not open and close as it’s supposed to during the operation of the dryer
- The clothes dryer unit gives off excessive heat
- Excessive odor is noticed from dryer sheets being used during the drying cycle
Dryer Safety Tips
It’s easy to prevent dryer fires in your home. Here are some simple tips to use your dryer safely:
- Have dryers installed and repaired by qualified service professionals. Gas dryers should be regularly inspected to ensure that gas lines are intact and undamaged.
- Read and heed all warnings included in the dryer instruction manual and on the door of the dryer unit.
- Never run your dryer without a lint filter in place.
- Always check and clean the lint trap before and after every usage, and clean any lint that’s accumulated around the drum.
- Ensure the air exhaust vent pipe is not blocked and that the vent flap to the outdoors will open when the dryer is operating. Consider replacing plastic or vinyl venting with rigid or flexible metal venting.
- Per above, if you notice the dryer takes longer than usual to operate, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
- Don’t overload the dryer; only fill to manufacturer-specified capacity.
- Don’t attempt to dry clothing or fabric which has been affected by a flammable substance, such as alcohol, cooking oil, gasoline, spot removers, or dry-cleaning solvents. Flammable substances give off vapors that could ignite or explode.
- Ensure dryer is not operating before leaving your home or going to bed.
If you experience fire damage due to a malfunctioning clothes dryer in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, know that you can always count on the experts at Tri State Restorations to help you recover your space. We’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for your convenience and can be on site within 90 minutes to mitigate the damage. Contact us today!