Clothes Dryer Fires. Important Family Safety Notice.

clothes dryer

Most consumers would agree, the clothes dryer is essential – an appliance of huge convenience and necessity. This appliance can be very wasteful of energy and dangerous to own if not correctly installed and maintained. Is yours operating at maximum efficiency and safety?

Did you Know?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers occur annually. These fires account for an average of 10 deaths, 310 injuries and more than $84.4 million in property damage annually.

Clothes dryers are one of the most expensive appliances in your home to operate. With excess runtime, the more money it costs the homeowner and the greater the risk of a fire starting from its hot operation.

If your dryer is taking longer than it used to drying a load of clothes and clothes come out feeling hotter than usual, your dryer’s vent is likely plugged with dust, fiber and lint. Lint buildup is highly flammable and a possible fire ignition source.

Lint buildup will also cause the dryer’s heating element to burn out prematurely leading to an expensive repair bill. Clothes last longer when not exposed to longer duration and excessive drying temperatures.

Clothes dryer fires happen more frequently in the fall and winter months due to the quantity and type of clothes worn in these seasons. Fall is an ideal time to thoroughly inspect and clean in and around your clothes dryer and vent ducting.

Certain types of ducting should never be used with clothes dryers. Plastic or flexible foil ducting should be replaced with solid metal ducting with smooth inside surface. Length should not exceed 35 feet and must be vented directly outdoors – never into attics, soffits or crawlspaces to be code compliant.

Possible causes of fires!

What causes some clothes dryer fires? Lack of maintenance is a big contributing factor. People are not cleaning lint traps as often as they should nor are they checking and cleaning vent systems on a periodic basis. Reduced airflow resulting from lint buildup in the screen or other areas around the dryer can cause the dryer to perform poorly, operate at elevated temperatures and possibly overheat.

Problems can also occur if consumers place improper items in their dryers, such as foam backed rugs or athletic shoes, or vent their appliances with plastic or vinyl exhaust materials.

Small birds or other nesting animals and their debris can also obstruct air flow from dryer vents.

A simple solution

Rigid or flexible, but smooth metal venting and ducting materials help sustain airflow, as well as reduce operating costs and extend the life of the dryer and also clothing from lower drying temperatures.

Important safety instructions

  • Clean the lint filter before or after each load. Do not forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can be trapped.
  • The interior of the dryer and venting system should be cleaned periodically by qualified service personnel. If you notice the drying time is longer, clean the vent system thoroughly to ensure proper airflow.
  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with smooth, rigid metal ducting. Do not use coiled wire foil ducting.
  • Do not dry clothing or fabric upon which there is anything flammable (e.g. alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers, dry-cleaning solvents). Flammable substances give off vapors that could ignite or explode.
  • Read manufacturers’ warnings in use and care manuals that accompany new dryers. Also, make sure to read the warning markings that can usually be found on the inside of the dryer’s lid.
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