Dryer Fires are More Common than Most Homeowners Realize

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The invention of the clothes dryer is arguably one of the best inventions by mankind. Most of us rely on our dryer to dry our clothes and other items multiple times per week. Big families rely on the laundry room much more than smaller families obviously, because laundry tends to pile up quickly in large households. Many of those households don’t realize that the same dryer that we depend on so often can be the cause of a catastrophe in an instant.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are an estimated 15,500 dryer fires each year. Those fires are responsible for as many as 10 deaths and 10 injuries per year. An unattended dryer fire can fully engulf the home in a matter of minutes. This is why you should never turn the dryer on at night before you go to bed or before you leave for work, school, or errands.

Dryer venting is often the cause of dryer fires. The laundry area in previous years was located in the basement of the home. Concrete block walls didn’t catch fire and the exhaust vent from the dryer went directly outside. This is the safest possible situation for your dryer.

However, today we have homes with laundry rooms in a center hallway or apartments with laundry rooms in every unit. This leads to much longer dryer vent hoses and increased potential for dryer fires. Here’s how a dryer fire happens:

  1. You load a load of laundry into the dryer and turn the dial to max heat to dry things faster.
  2. The dryer heats up and begins to expel hot, damp air through the hose to the vent outside the home or apartment structure.
  3. The lint screen inside the dryer begins to capture the larger pieces of lint as they are removed from various pieces of laundry.
  4. Small pieces of lint escape through the lint screen and flow through the dryer vent hose with all of that hot, damp air.
  5. The condensation eventually makes the small piece of lint heavy enough to stick to the interior of the dryer vent walls.
  6. This process repeats for the duration of every load of laundry you wash and dry until the dryer vent starts to build up a thick wall of lint. This wall of lint is very flammable. It only takes one spark or excessive heat from the dryer to start a fire. One spark can occur any time static electricity is present; which is often with lint. The dryer runs hotter when it is forced to work harder because of the effort it takes to expel air through the smaller interior of the vent hose.

A fire can occur any time at this point. We highly recommend that you have your dryer vent cleaned at least once a year depending on how often you do laundry. Larger families will fill up the dryer vent much more quickly than a smaller family.

The chimney sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service are CSIA Certified as well as C-DET (Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician) and we have years of experience under our belts. We strive to continue our education as often as possible so we’re always in the position to offer you the best possible chimney and dryer vent cleaning services in Drexel Hill and all along the Main Line. Call us at 610-626-2439 to discuss your chimney needs or to schedule an appointment for a chimney cleaning, chimney inspection, or dryer vent cleaning.

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