You’re probably already familiar with the dangers of kitchen and storage fires, however, there is one type of fire you may be at risk for that most homeowners don’t know even about: dryer lint fires. Fires stemming from the lint in clothes dryers are more common than you might think, and when they are not prevented, the results can be devastating. Fortunately, our fire damage experts at FP Property Restoration are here to tell you everything you need to know about dryer lint fires—and how you can prevent them.
7 Easy Ways to Prevent a Dryer Lint Fire in Your Home
- Always Use the Lint Screen/Keep the Lint Screen Clean: If there’s one way everyone can prevent dryer fires with very little effort, it’s to keep the lint screen clean and NEVER use the machine if the lint screen is missing. This piece acts as a filter for your dryer’s ventilation system (more on that below,) so no matter what you are drying, it is an essential part of the process. You may need to clean the screen extra carefully or even clean it midway through a cycle if you are drying towels, wools, fleeces, or other items with a lot of fuzz. If you do lose this piece, replace it as soon as possible, especially since running your dryer without the screen makes the machine a fire hazard, but also forces it to work harder, so you pay more in energy costs.
- Make Sure the Ventilation Duct Is Clean: Your dryer’s ventilation duct is the tube that runs from your main unit to the outdoor dryer vent. When lint builds up inside these components over time, a clog can form, leading to a buildup of exhaust. This is why it’s important to clean out the ventilation system regularly. You can do this by disconnecting the duct and vacuuming up the contents inside, though make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions ahead of time, so you know how to disconnect the duct and reattach it to the vent correctly.
- Keep the Area Around Your Dryer Clean: Lint may not only be a fire hazard when it is in your dyer, but also when it is around it. Dust, debris, and any lint that accumulates around the base of your dryer can make it heat up faster, potentially leading to a fire. Make sure to sweep up the area around your dyer regularly, and try not to leave clothes, cleaning supplies, or garbage around your dryer either. Also, make sure there are no other heavy duty electronic items plugged in next to your dryer other than a washer, as this can create a perfect storm for house fires.
- Split Up Large Loads So Clothes Dry Faster: We understand that if you do a big load of laundry, you don’t want to leave wet clothes in the dryer for any longer than necessary. Plus, if you live in an apartment and have to pay for dyer use, it can be a pain to spend twice as much on one load. That said, if you are accustomed to doing large loads of laundry, it is usually better to split that load up when it comes time to put it in the dryer. The larger the load, the hotter your dryer gets, which can make it a fire hazard. Plus, you might be able to cut drying time in half this way, rather than running a larger load for longer.
- Hang-Dry Any Items of Clothing That Have Been in Contact with Flammable Substances: On rare occasions, you might accidentally spill a little gas on your pants when filling up your car, or get a little oil on your shirt when working with the lawnmower. Although you will want to put these items in your washer to get the substance/smell off your clothes, any items that have been in contact with flammable materials should be hang-dried after the wash, just to be safe. If you absolutely have nowhere to hang these items, try to run them through the washer a few times, using the appropriate amount of detergent, before they go in the dryer.
- Don’t Let the Dryer Run When You Are Not Home/Asleep: Even if your dryer is extremely reliable and you have never had any problems with it, you should still avoid leaving the house or going to sleep while it is on. If you live in an apartment, it may not be possible for you to keep an eye on your dryer for the whole cycle, but try to at least check on your clothes once to make sure everything is okay. Spotting the warning signs of a dryer fire could be the thing that saves your home, so taking your eyes off the machine for too long is not a good idea. And speaking of warning signs…
- Know the Top Signs of a Dryer Fire: Although the best way to prevent a dryer fire is to take all the precautions you can to prevent one before it happens, sometimes, a freak accident may occur. In these cases, you will want to know what the signs of a dryer fire are before it truly becomes unstoppable. Top indicators include the smell of burning fabric, increased humidity in your laundry room, increased heat coming off your clothes when you take them out of the machine, a longer than normal dryer cycle, your dryer being hot to the touch, and problems opening your outdoor dryer vent. If you do notice any of these signs, turn off your machine right away, and if a fire has already started, call a professional and evacuate the area immediately.