Fact: 1 In 22 Fires Is Caused By Something You Have In Your Home Right This Minute.
Laundry is a weekly chore for most of us, but did you know that clothes dryers cause around 15,500 home structure fires, 29 deaths, 400 injuries and $192 million in direct property loss each year? Most dryer fires happen in the winter, so now is the perfect time to make sure that yours is in good shape.
Causes: The #1 cause of home clothes dryer and washer fires is failure to clean. Lint is the biggest culprit. Lint traps do not catch all of the fuzzy stuff, and can gradually build up and catch fire. Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire.
Improper dryer vent practices restrict airflow and lead to lint buildup: the two main preventable causes of clothes dryer fires. If your dryer is installed outside of a basement, it means your dryer has longer vents with twists and turns that allow space for lint to build up. See below for tips on preventing dryer fires.
Laundry habits can also be a risk. It’s easy enough to do laundry without reading drying instructions on the tag. We’re all guilty of doing this. But sometimes, there are bigger consequences to drying our clothes than shrinking a favorite sweater. Items containing rubber or other materials not meant to be dried at high temperatures, and alcohol or certain sanitizing solutions that are combustible at high heat can cause a fire when exposed to dryer heat. Also, make sure that chapsticks and other plastic-containing items are removed from pockets, hoods with synthetic fur (made of plastic), etc. are removed from your laundry before you put it in the dryer.
Is Your Dryer At Risk?: A clothes dryer that is not working properly has an increased risk of catching fire. Signs your dryer might need service:
- Clothes are taking longer than one cycle to dry
- Clothes come out hotter than usual
- There is no visible lint on the lint trap
- Dryer repeatedly stops during a cycle
- The top of the dryer is hot to the touch while running
- Have your clothes dryer professionally installed
- Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe every six months
- Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct
- Inspect the venting system behind your dryer for restrictions, and make sure the outdoor vent flap opens when the dryer is operating
- Keep the area around the dryer free of items that can burn
- Don’t overload the dryer
- Don’t dry items made of foam, rubber or plastic
- Have a professional inspect gas dryers annually to assure that supply lines and connections are intact and free of leaks