It’s often hard to believe that this nice home appliance that sits all quiet and innocent in your laundry room constitutes one of the main reasons for thousands of house fires every single year.
The stats of house fires due to clothes dryers are shocking. Based on the reports of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the U.S. fire departments responded to nearly 16K home fires due to dryers. That’s an annual estimate for the period from 2010 to 2014. These fires caused an approx. $238 million in property damage, led to the death of 13 people and became the reason for 444 injuries.
Which are the leading reasons for dryer fires in the home?
The main reason for dryer fires is the lack of maintenance. Or, over accumulated lint in the lint trap, if you want. Lint is created by clothing. It builds up during the drying process and must be removed once the cycle is completed. If not, lint continues to build up and the appliance gradually becomes clogged. Now, when this happens, a portion of the lint is forced into the vents, clogging them too. It’s vital to mention at this point that the vents also fill up with dust and debris. At the same time, the ducts in the house may also be clogged with dirt or even insects and rodents. As a consequence, the hot air in the dryer has no escape route and starts a fire.
• Improper clothing
It’s important to read the instructions of the manufacturer before you use the dryer. That’s to be sure the appliance is used correctly. In this context, some materials are forbidden to be thrown in the dryer. That’s flammable materials, like rubber, plastic, and anything that could ignite a fire. Still, a quarter of dryer fires have started for this reason.
• Appliance problem
Although this is not common, one more reason for a fire is dryer problems. That’s why even minor failures with the dryer should make you think twice before you use the appliance and make you call an appliance technician.
What to do to avoid a house fire due to the clothes dryer
It’s clear that the main reason for dryer fires is overheating. And improper use. In order to avoid a disaster, restoration teams marching around the house, and the risk of losing everything, be proactive.
• Remove the dryer’s lint every time the cycle is over.
• Occasionally, check and clean the vent behind the dryer.
• Never use flammables around the dryer or to clean it.
• Never attempt to dry combustible items.
• Have your air ducts checked once in a while to make sure they remain clean.
• Always make sure the lint filter is in place and clean it before you start the dryer.
• Never go out when the dryer is working. Even if you are at home, check its operation from time to time.
Things to know to avoid disaster
Don’t ignore problems. In fact, you should call a dryer technician even if the problem seems trivial – isn’t that better than calling a fire damage repair team? For example, if the dryer takes longer, gets too hot, or shows signs of any malfunction at all, it’s best to not use it.
Among all other instructions mentioned in the dryer’s manual, take notice of this line saying not to overload the appliance. That’s because this may also lead to excessive heat and thus, this may also become a safety hazard. When the dryer is overloaded, lint builds up faster and the appliance has a hard time ventilating – hence, there’s a fire risk. Why take it?
Let us point out that gas dryers can release carbon monoxide if the vents are clogged and the outer route is shut. In this case, carbon monoxide is trapped within and may cause poisoning which may also be life-threatening.
Electric dryers may catch fire even when they are not running if there’s a problem with the wires or other components, which may spark even after the cycle and set the appliance on fire due to over-accumulation of lint.
All dryers may be dangerous if they are not used correctly and when they are clogged.
To avoid fire, damage, expenses, and perhaps disaster, follow all the above instructions and keep a fire extinguisher close by – just in case.