Dryer fires are a more common occurrence than many people realize. In fact, they are responsible for more than 15,000 house fires each year.
There is no way to guarantee that you will never be faced with a dryer fire, but we do have several steps you can take to drastically reduce your chances of it happening. As with many other aspects of homeownership and adulthood, preventative maintenance is the key.
- Keep the lint screen clean. The lint screen is designed to capture the larger pieces of lint that normally comes off of your clothing in the laundry. Remove the lint buildup after every load of laundry to keep the dryer running efficiently and to prevent the over-buildup of lint. When the lint screen becomes too full, it does not effectively perform its job, resulting in more lint traveling through the dryer hose and longer dry times for your laundry.
- Inspect the dryer vent hose a few times a year. The dryer vent hose is designed to carry hot, damp air and lint outside through the exterior vent. It should be relatively open, without a lot of lint clinging to the walls. Clean the vent or hire a certified chimney sweep to clean it if it becomes thick with lint.
- Inspect the exterior dryer vent. The dryer vent should be located on the exterior of your home relatively close to the laundry room. The air exiting the vent should be strong enough to blow the vent open to allow heated air to escape. Clean the vent if there is lint buildup.
- Clean the area around the dryer. This doesn’t necessarily do much to prevent a dryer fire, but it does help prevent it from spreading if it does occur. Clothing, boxes, and other items act as fuel for a dryer fire and they can get out of hand quite quickly if given the right amount of fuel.
- Check the settings on the dryer occasionally. Make sure that if you’re using a heated setting, it is appropriate for the type of laundry that is in the dryer.
- Pay attention to dry times and make sure the dryer doesn’t have any odd smells while it is operational. An efficient dryer should take about 45 minutes to dry a load of laundry. Longer dry times are a sign of potential lint buildup and the dryer is not working efficiently.
- Check the power source occasionally. Look at the power plug if you have an electric dryer. It shouldn’t have any lint or debris around it, and it should be plugged in securely. Check the gas connectors if you have a gas dryer. If the connector looks questionable or like it has been damaged, have it replaced.
The chimney sweeps here at Lou Curley’s Chimney Service are CSIA Certified and C-DET certified. This is good news for you, because it means we are fully certified to inspect and clean your chimney and your dryer vent and hose. Give us a call at 610-626-2439 to discuss potential issues with your dryer vent or with your chimney. We’ll schedule an appointment for a consultation so we can check them out for you.