Dryers are among the least-discussed fire threats in the home, but can be a major risk when not properly monitored and managed. The National Fire Prevention Association states that from 2010-2014, there were 15,970 home fires each year involving clothes dryers or washing machines and resulting in $238 million per year in direct property damage. Rather than allowing severe fire threat go unaddressed in your home, you can take mitigation steps.
Understanding The Basics of Cleaning
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) explained that homeowners need to regularly clean their dryers, following the guidance of user-manuals that come with the appliance. According to the agency, about 34% of all dryer-related house fires are the direct result of not cleaning the equipment properly. FEMA suggests checking and emptying the lint filter before putting anything into the dryer, and clearing out the vent pipe at least once every three months. Some of the signs that a fire threat might be rising include lint not being caught, clothes taking longer than normal to dry and smells coming from the vent. As a note, you should always refer to your owner's manual when cleaning the equipment; different dryers will have varied cleaning requirements and best practices. What's more, FEMA points out, winter tends to be the most common time of the year for dryer-caused house fires.
A Closer Look at Vents
Knowing how and when to clean out the lint filter is simple enough to determine, but the vents take a bit more consideration. Window Genie, a cleaning service provider, explains that vents can very quickly and quietly get clogged, forcing the air that ought to be exiting the house to be trapped. The company points out: If the room with the dryer is unusually warm when the machine is running, if odd smells occur or if the clothes themselves are abnormally hot when you take them out, there is maybe a problem with the vent. The firm notes that this is one of the reasons why a dryer should never be used when you are out of the house, as clogged vents could cause the dryer to catch fire. Additionally, due to the extensive nature of cleaning the vents, Window Genie suggests hiring a professional service provider for vent cleaning needs.
Here are three more tips to reduce your chances of a damaging dryer fire:
● Before buying a dryer, check the manufacturer's history to ensure it has not produced dryers that have malfunctioned and caused fires in the past.
● Read the entire owner's manual before operating.
● Take time once every few months to check the vents, lint catcher and other components of the machine.