ANATOMY OF A DRYER FIRE
Dryer fires in Orlando usually start beneath the dryer when the motor overheats. Overheating is caused by a build-up of lint in the duct that increases the drying time and blocks the flow of air. Naturally any lint that has collected under the dryer will burn and the draft from the dryer will pull that fire up into the duct. Since the duct may be coated or even blocked with lint, many times a house fire results. Other contributing conditions may include failure of the thermostat and limit switches in the dryer, lint inside the dryer, a missing or damaged lint screen, a crushed hose behind the dryer, or a bird’s nest or other debris blocking the vent.
DRYER FIRE FACT SHEET
STATISTICS AND IMPLICATIONS
- Dryer exhaust fires now surpass creosote (chimney) fires frequency on a national level. In 1998, the most recent statistics available, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that over 15,600 dryer fires occurred killing 20 people, injuring 370 more and causing over $75.4 million in property damage. According to the CPSC, in most of these cases the culprit was lint getting into the machine’s heating element, sparking and fueling a fire. Not surprisingly, some fire departments and insurance companies now require that dryer vents be inspected and cleaned regularly.
- With gas dryers, there is also concern of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Since lint and flue gases use the same avenue of exit from the house, a blocked vent can cause CO fumes to back up into the house. These fumes are colorless and odorless and they can be fatal. Low-level CO poisoning mimics flu symptoms (without the fever): headaches, weakness, nausea, disorientation and deep fatigue. At higher levels, occupants can fall asleep, lapse into a coma and die.
- Dryer is still producing heat, but taking longer and longer to dry clothes, especially towels and jeans or any other article of clothing.
- Clothes are damp or hotter than usual at the end of the cycle.
- Outdoor flapper on vent hood doesn’t open when dryer is on.
- Airflow in the vent seems low.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS TO DRYER VENT CLEANING
- Allows your dryer to operate more efficiently, using less energy and saving you money.
- Protects your dryer from excess wear and premature death.
- Helps clothes dry faster – a time savings for busy families.
- Reduces excess household dust and humidity.
- Helps preserve clothing, as the life of many fabrics is damaged by excessive high heat.
Most vents should be cleaned every year. Some dryer vents need attention more often. Determining factors include:
- How heavily the dryer is used.
- How long the vent is and the materials used. Shorter vents usually blow better.
- The age and type of dryer used.
- The design of the vent. Those with a lot of turns and elbows blow worse and build up more.