Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clothes Dryer Fire Safety & Maintenance

A posting on Facebook prompted me to do some research about house fires that have been caused by problems with a clothes dryer. A young woman was concerned when she awoke to find her dryer hot to the touch although she had not done any laundry since the day before.  
 We often hear stories about clothes dryers’ catching on fire and it is a legitimate concern for home owners.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration:
  • Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.
  • Eighty percent of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings.
  • “Failure to clean” is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
  • The 2 leading items that are ‘first ignited’ in a dryer fire are clothes in the dryer and lint and dust.  These 2 items account for 56% of fires.
  • New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from outside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Things homeowners should be doing to reduce the potential for fire:
  • Clean your lint filter after EVERY load of laundry.
  • Inspect your lint filter for rips each time you use it. If you see any rips, replace immediately.
  • Never put synthetic materials such as rubber, plastic, foam, or pieces of cloth that have been used to sponge up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if previously washed.
  • Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer regularly.
  • The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends to allow for adequate airflow.
  • Disconnect, clean, and inspect the dryer duct and venting every couple of years
  • Never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or asleep.
  • Have gas-powered dryers inspected by a professional annually to ensure that the gas line and connection are intact.
  • Outside wall dampers should have a covering that will keep out rain, snow, and dirt. However, do not use wire screen or cloth of any kind to protect the exhaust opening.

For the complete report issued by the US Fire Administration go to this link: 

1 comment:

  1. Judy, Homeowners need to get their dryer vents cleaned periodically to keep the lint from collecting. The frequency depends on number of loads of laundry done weekly and it's even more important when vents are the flexible, accordion style with lots of cracks to collect the lint. The other problem is vents that are too long, i.t. ideally 8 ft or less but often to save time & expense, builders run vents up through the attic which is never good.


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