Crackle, pop, crackle, pop!
These concerning sounds awaken you in the middle of a peaceful night’s sleep. You head downstairs to see where the noise could be coming from as the fire alarm starts to sound, piercing your ears. To your horror, you discover your dryer engulfed in flames too big to be extinguished with any household item, so you call 911 and rush out of your home.
You may not have considered a dryer fire a concern, but did you know that on average they claim about 13 lives, cause 440 injuries, and are responsible for about $238 million in property damages every year? Dryer fires are more of a threat than you may think, so it’s important to do everything you can to prevent them and keep your family and home safe. We’ll review what typically causes dryer fires and the best ways to prevent them.
What Causes Dryer Fires?
Most dryer fires are caused by extra lint, which builds up when the dryer is not cleaned on a regular basis. The extra lint can sneak into your dryer’s filters and exhaust duct, where it easily catches on fire. You not only need to maintain your dryer by keeping it clean, you also need to make sure there is proper air flow around the unit. If there is not proper airflow surrounding the dryer, the heat can cause combustion.
How to Prevent Dryer Fires
Keep Your Vents Clean
It’s very important to clean your vents and your entire dryer on a regular basis. Many people assume that the vent will catch all of the lint, but this is not true – lint can build up inside the dryer or other heating elements.
Clean Your Dryer Exhaust and Filters
Look outside the dryer vent to make sure there is ample airflow surrounding it. If you cannot see the air escape while the dryer is running, disconnect the vent and exhaust to unblock them with a thorough cleaning, but be sure to reconnect everything before proceeding with your next load of laundry.
Be Careful with the Items You Put in the Dryer
Accidents happen, and you may accidentally spill a flammable chemical, such as gasoline, on your clothes. If this happens, be sure to wash them multiple times to make sure there are no chemical remnants before putting them in the dryer. Any chemical that may be prone to combustion can cause a fire in your dryer.
This is also true for the type of clothing you put in the dryer. Clothing that has any aluminum or plastic are common suspects in fires, so be sure to dry these on a line or hanger.
Keep the Area Around the Dryer Clean
In the event that your dryer has a fire, any items in close proximity to the dryer will only fuel the flames. Keep the entire area around the dryer clean to prevent the fire from spreading.
Use a Rigid or Corrugated Semi-Rigid Metal Duct
Avoid plastic or foil, accordion-type ductwork. Opt instead for rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal ducts, which help further prevent fires in the dryer’s ductwork.
Do Not Leave Your Dryer Unattended
Although you may want to throw a load of laundry in the dryer before bedtime, it’s not safe to leave your dryer unattended. Most likely, you will be able to hear if there is a potential issue in your dryer before the fire starts. This also holds true for leaving your house while drying clothes. Always make sure you can take quick action in case of an emergency.
Ensure You Have a Suitable Outlet
Making sure you have a suitable outlet will ensure that the outlet won’t blow a fuse. Overloaded electrical outlets can spark fires.
Check Your Gas Line
If you have a gas dryer, ensure your gas line is intact. If it looks questionable, hire a professional to come out and look at it and, if necessary, repair the gas lines.
Look for Alternatives
You may be able to save money by looking into more cost-efficient alternatives. This could include using a clothesline or an energy efficient dryer.
What Happens If Your Dryer Catches on Fire?
While you can work fireproof your dryer, accidents do happen. The only way to truly protect yourself and your home is to be prepared in case of a fire. If your dryer does catch on fire be sure to call 911 immediately.
Fire safety is extremely important. You don’t want to lose valuables, your entire home or even worse a pet or loved one. Take care of your dryer and make sure it’s properly installed by a professional.
Do you have any tips to prevent dryer fires? Let us know in the comments below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.