Do Dryer Vents Cause Fires
Cleaning the seemingly trivial dryer lint filter is the key to preventing dryer fires. Likewise, cleaning the dryer duct and exhaust vent can help prevent an appliance fire. Dryer fires are a common occurrence, and homeowners should be aware that dryer vents are a leading cause of home fires.
Every year, fire officials respond to 2,900 home clothes dryer fires. These dryer fires are a concern, since they result in an estimated 5 fatalities, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property losses. Most dryer fires occur during the autumn and winter months, peaking in January.
While the abovementioned US Fire Administration’s statistics are worrisome, the good news is that homeowners can take steps to reduce the risk of a potential fire caused by the dryer. All it takes is regularly cleaning the dryer to avoid disastrous fire damage.
Cleaning the lint trap after every dryer cycle helps prevent a fire. However, not all the lint that accumulates during the drying cycle is caught in the trap. Pieces of tissue or paper towels are pushed into the dryer vent. Debris that accumulates in the vent can lead to problems.
Over time, the increasingly clogged vent becomes a fire hazard. The heat produced by the dryer can ignite the built-up lint blocking the vent and cause it to combust. If the dryer catches fire, the flames could rapidly spread to other parts of the home, leading to major fire damage.
What are signs of a blocked dryer vent?
Homeowners should be aware of the warning signs that indicate the dryer vent requires cleaning or an inspection. Clothing takes longer to dry; the 45-minute cycle is too short to fully dry the materials. In fact, when the clothes come out of the dryer damp, check the dryer vent.
Excessive heat is another telltale sign of a problem brewing in the dryer vent. The room in which the dryer is running becomes noticeably hot. Clothes that immediately come out of the dryer are unusually hot. The dryer itself, while operating, is also abnormally hot to the touch.
Other signs that the dryer vent may be blocked include excessive lint build-up outside the trap and vent during each cycle. Outside of the dryer vent opening, debris may have accumulated. While the dryer is on, a musty odor may appear.
How is the dryer vent cleaned?
Cleaning the dryer vent is the surefire way to avoid a clogged vent and the associated fire hazards. The task is straightforward, meaning any homeowner can accomplish it as a DIY project. Professional cleaners are also available to clean the dryer vent, if preferred.
Unplug the dryer and pull it away from the wall. If the dryer runs on gas, turn off the gas. Disconnect the dryer vent from the dryer using a screwdriver. With a trash bag ready, pull out the lint; a vacuum cleaner attachment or dryer vent brush simplifies the task.
Upon cleaning out the lint, reattach the vent and push the dryer back into position. Plug in the appliance; if the dryer uses a gas line, reattach it and turn on the gas. Perform this task every three months to ensure the dryer vent remains clear of lint and obstructions.
Homeowners should also check the outside vent. Unscrew the cap to the outside vent and pull out the lint. Run the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to push any lingering bits of lint through the vent and to the outside. Reattach the cover to the outside vent.
How are dryer fires prevented?
Cleaning the dryer vent is one of many important steps to avoiding a dryer fire. After every load of laundry, clean the lint filter. As mentioned, a buildup of lint is essentially a tinder bundle—which is a perfect source of ignition for a dryer fire.
A dryer should be properly installed—if possible, by professionals. Plug the dryer into the appropriate outlet: a 240-volt outlet (not a 120-volt outlet). Securely attach the ventilation duct to the dryer and the exterior exhaust vent. Position the dryer away from other appliances.
Dry appropriate items in the dryer to avoid a potential fire. Avoid putting plastic, rubber, and foam in the dryer. Read the labels on garments prior to drying them. Dry clothes soiled in flammable compounds, like oil, gas or alcohol, on a clothesline instead of in the dryer.
Schedule an annual dryer inspection by a professional to ensure safety. A technician will check the lines and connections, identifying and correcting any improper fittings or leaks. The professional can also replace a potentially flammable plastic dryer duct with the recommended smooth duct.
A dryer fire can quickly spread and cause devastating losses. Homeowners who are faced with a fire should first call the fire department to extinguish the flames. Afterward, make the important call to ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration for immediate fire damage restoration.
Our fire damage cleanup technicians stabilize your fire damaged property to prevent collapse. We quickly remove the smoke and soot damage, thereby preventing permanent ruin. A speedy response is critical to stopping the spread of damage and improving the chances of successful restoration.
Structural repairs are performed by our specialists. Fire damage cleanup technicians also clean the walls and ceilings of soot and smoke. Smoke particles will linger, causing offensive odors. A part of our fire and smoke damage restoration process is to fully deodorize the property.
The flames may have destroyed not only the building itself, but the goods inside. ServiceMaster specialists clean personal belongings, such as electronics and textiles, affected by the fire and smoke. We also remove soot and smoke from delicate surfaces, like marble, brass, and porcelain.
ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration offers emergency restoration services to home and business owners in Denver, Colorado, and the surrounding communities. Technicians stand by 24 hours a day to swiftly respond to fire damage situations. Call us when you need fast, efficient fire damage cleanup.