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How Safe Is Your Clothes Dryer?

February 4, 2020

According to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 17,000 clothes dryer fires are reported each year. These clothes dryer fires cause around 51 deaths, 380 injuries, and $236 million in property loss. This begs the question, “How Safe Is Your Dryer?”

Not many of us think about the fire risk that this one appliance creates. Most of us see it as a utilitarian machine that gets the laundry done, plain and simple. Unfortunately, without proper care, usage, and regular maintenance, a dryer can be extremely unsafe and could even cause your home to become one of the statistics above.

Thankfully, there are steps that homeowners can take to keep these appliances working well and reduce the risk of fire substantially.

dryer inspection

Duct Inspection

The ductwork for your dryer most likely extends out through an opening in your home to vent the exhaust. Be sure that this ductwork is as short and straight as possible. If the ducting is too long or has too many bends it will accumulate lint and cause your dryer to take much longer than necessary to dry clothes. That lint build up can be a fire risk. Regularly check that your ductwork is installed correctly, connected properly, and venting well.

Clean the Lint Filter

Lint build-up can cause a fire by creating an elevated temperature in the drum. We suggest cleaning the filter after ever use and maintaining the dryer with regular check ups to be sure that there is no internal lint build-up. A tip to watch for is if your clothes are still damp after a regular cycle there may be lint build-up in the dryer or somewhere in the exhaust piping.

Follow the Approved Capacity Guidelines

If you have a tendency to overload the dryer in order to get more done in one wash/dry cycle, you may be asking for trouble. Overloading the dryer prolongs drying time, and can cause serious and expensive long-term damage to the machine.

hanging clothes

Handle Chemical Stains With Care

If you work in an industry where you may have flammable liquids staining your clothing such as: gas, cooking oil, cleaning agents, or other flammable chemicals, take precautions before you throw them into the wash and dryer. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends washing such stained clothing more than once to minimize volatile chemicals, then hanging to dry.

Now that you have some guidelines regarding your dryer, are you rethinking how safe it is? Check out our blogs and website for more ideas on what to do if a fire or other catastrophe impacts your home.

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