Dryer fires have resulted in deaths, injuries and millions of dollars in property losses. With so much at risk, it is crucial to understand what causes dryer fires and how to prevent them from happening in your home. To protect yourself, your family, and your property, read these dryer dos and don'ts from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore.
ALWAYS CLEAN THE LINT FILTER
- A clogged lint filter is the leading contributing factor in residential dryer fires. Each time you unload the dryer, clean out the lint trap. Before putting the next load of clothes in, double-check that the lint trap is completely clean to lower your fire risk.
- A clean lint filter also allows the dryer to run more efficiently, thus drying your clothes faster and preventing your machine from overheating.
INSPECT DRYER VENTING DUCTS REGULARLY
- Regularly remove lint from metal ducts and exhaust vents.
- Blocked ducts cause dryer fires. To ensure your dryer is running correctly, check your ducts about once a month to ensure there are no blockages.
- Regularly inspect the air exhaust to ensure it is not restricted and that the outdoor vent flap opens when the dryer is operating.
- Some telltale signs that your ducts are clogged include the following indicators:
- Your laundry is taking longer to dry
- Exhaust air is failing to exit the vent
- You suspect that your machine is overheating
- Sometimes, a blockage occurs because the venting system itself is damaged. Other times, blockages may occur because of an accumulation of lint, animals building nests in the vents, or snow building up over the outside vents. If you notice any blockages, clean them out before using your dryer again. To clean your ducts, disconnect them, remove the blockages, and then reconnect them. If you notice any damage to the venting system, call in a professional to repair the issue.
REPLACE OUTDATED DUCTS
- Older ducts made of plastic or foil are prone to sagging. These accordion-style ducts can easily trap lint in hard-to-reach spaces, increasing fire risk. To keep your home safe, replace your older models with new vents designed with heavy-duty metal.
DON'T DRY CLOTHES WITHOUT THE LINT FILTER
A dryer without its lint trap is an accident waiting to happen. The filter protects the dryer's inner workings from collecting lint. Lint buildup in the ducts can easily lead to a dryer-vent fire without this defensive shield. Always use your dryer with the lint trap in place to lower your risk. If your existing lint trap is worn or develops any holes, replace it immediately.
DON'T OVERLOAD THE DRYER
Stuffing or overloading too many wet clothes or bedding into a dryer can cause an excess of lint to accumulate and the dryer to overheat. Since lint buildup reduces a dryer's ability to ventilate, the machine may quickly overheat and cause a fire to break out. Read your owner's manual to determine your machine's maximum hold to ensure you stay within its limits.
DON'T DRY MATERIALS THAT COULD BE FLAMMABLE
- Never dry garments that have been cleaned with dry-cleaning fluid.
- Never dry materials or fabrics that have been saturated by chemicals, oils or gasoline (e.g. mops and towels and cloths saturated with wax, flammable solvents or vegetable oils). Even after washing, these substances can start a fire during the drying cycle.
- Do not dry natural or synthetic rubber, rubber-coated sneakers, galoshes, foam pillows or any garment with foam padding.
DON'T LEAVE THE DRYER RUNNING UNATTENDED
Never go to sleep or leave the house while your dryer is running. If a fire breaks out, your ability to extinguish it or call emergency services right away can make all the difference between damage to your laundry room and the loss of your entire home.
OTHER IMPORTANT DRYER FIRE PREVENTION TIPS
- Always exhaust the dryer to the outside; never exhaust the dryer indoors.
- Keep the area around the dryer clear of all flammable items.
- The inside of the dryer cabinet should be cleaned as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home if using a natural gas or propane dryer.
- Ensure there are working smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas.
Despite our best efforts as homeowners, however, accidents can still happen. If your home has been damaged by fire and smoke, call ServiceMaster Restore. Our residential fire and smoke damage removal services can help get your life back to normal quickly. With the proper training, equipment, resources and expertise, our expert technicians will be with you every step of the way to help get your life back on track as soon as possible.