One major area of homeowner awareness that normally does not receive a great deal of attention is the importance of proper maintenance of your clothes dryer. Properly maintained clothes dryers can provide years of safe efficient service. However, un-maintained clothes dryers are not only a major energy waste but are a major source of house fires. In fact, more than 10,000 clothes dryer fires occur every year in USA.
According to firefighters, the most common reason for starting a fire in a house is in the back of the clothes dryer and inside the exhaust duct, which extracts hot air and the combustion gases. When left un-maintained all the ingredients for starting a fire are there: extreme heat, fresh oxygen, plus a highly flammable fuel: lint.
Normal use of the clothes dryer produces small amounts of lint, which accumulates in the dryer lint trap. Regular cleaning of the lint trap ensures adequate air flow and increases the operating efficiency of the dryer.
Even with a regularly cleaned lint trap, over time lint builds up in the back of the dryer, exhaust ducts and cavities. This starves the dryer from having safe adequate air flow and raises the operating temperature of the dryer – causing overheating. With hot air created by a heating element or an open flame, dryer lint can easily catch on fire. Any occasional overheating is a possible fire risk in your home.
At the factories, manufacturers rigorously inspect, certify and test dryers before they are manufactured and sold to ensure that safety standards are met. Once the dryer machine is installed at home, a basic preventative maintenance and cleaning is necessary to keep it in good working order. If the dryer and its venting ducts are not periodically and properly cleaned, lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for starting a fire.
Here are Some Common Symptoms of Lint Accumulation:
Is your dryer taking twice as long to get through one load of laundry?
Do you need to do an extra cycle just to get your fabrics dried up and ready for folding?
Is your laundry hotter than normal at the end of the drying cycle?
Does your dryer feel hot when you touch it?
Is your outside exhaust vent flap only partially opening?
Does your laundry area or room feel more humid than it normally does?
Have you noticed any hot or burnt smells?
If you are experiencing any of these situations discontinue use of your clothes dryer and have it inspected by a qualified technician immediately.
Here are Some Simple Safety Suggestions to Keep Your Dryer and Home Safe!
- Always clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes
- Never run your clothes dryer at night while you are asleep
- Never run your clothes dryer while you are out of the house
- Keep the area around your dryer clean and free of clutter – especially behind the dryer, where lint can build up on a regular basis
- Use the dryer in the lowest heat setting or a drying cycle that has a cool down period at the end of the cycle
- Do not dry clothing and fabric that have been soiled with cleaning agents, gasoline, paints/stains, and other volatile chemicals
- Do not leave the dried clothes in the dryer or piled in a laundry basket, in order to prevent clothes from igniting after drying
- Have you dryer inspected at least annually by a qualified service technician
- Always keep always a fire extinguisher available and know how to properly operate it