Preventing dryer-related home fires

January 24, 2011

Every year, thousands of home fires across the country are the cause of thousands of deaths and injuries and billions of dollars worth of damage to homes. What many people don't know is that dryers in residential homes are a major cause of fires, as many dryers are not properly maintained. According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryers are the cause of roughly 17,000 home fires, 15 deaths, 360 injuries, and $200 million worth of damage every year. Of those 17,000 fires, about 30% were a result of a failure to clean the dryer. There are several simple steps you can do to ensure that your dryer is properly functioning, which is a crucial step in avoiding dryer-related home fires. Not only will proper maintenance of your dryer prevent home fires, it can also decrease your gas or electric bill, and increase the life of your dryer.

What causes dryer fires?
The root cause of most dryer fires is lint. Lint buildup poses two problems: lint buildup causes the dryer to work overtime, which can cause overheating of the dryer. Second, lint is highly flammable. Overheating combined with highly flammable lint are a perfect recipe for starting a fire.

What can you do to prevent dryer-related fires?
1. Have your dryer installed and periodically serviced by a professional. Once a year, or if you notice that it is taking longer for your clothes to dry, arrange to have your vent system thoroughly cleaned.
2. If installing a new dryer, or constructing a new home, arrange to have a direct vent system to the outside, using rigid venting. Flexible venting and long vent lines are more likely to sag or compromise air flow.
3. Ensure that the air exhaust vent pipe is cleared and that the vent flap is working properly.
4. Clear your lint tray every time before using the dryer.
5. Never dry items that have come in contact with flammable material, such as cooking oil, gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol, regardless if that item has been washed or not.
6. If using a gas dryer, arrange to have your dryer periodically inspected in order to check for faulty gas lines.
7. Keep the dryer area clear of things that can burn.
Practicing these preventative measures can help save your family and home from injury and damage. If you need to report a claim, call our office at 508-540-2400.