Every year, firefighters across the country respond to around 14,630 home fires caused by clothes dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association. An accumulation of lint causes one out of four fires, which means that not cleaning your dryer is more of a threat than a mechanical or electrical malfunction.
Some dryers have indicators designed to alert you when lint has built up and blocked the vent. Our clothes dryer tests have found that LG’s FlowSense and Samsung’s Vent Sensor detect completely blocked vents, but aren’t as good as detecting partially blocked vents. The same is true for the check-vent feature on Whirlpool and Maytag dryers.
“Dryer fires are responsible for nine deaths, 420 civilian injuries, and $222 million in property damage annually,” says Marty Ahrens, a spokesperson for the NFPA.
Given these numbers—and the fact that more dryer fires occur in the fall and winter—we asked CR’s experts for advice on reducing your risk of a dryer fire. Below, four simple steps for laundry-room safety.
Clean Your Lint Filter. Not once a month, or even once a week: “Remove lint from the dryer’s lint screen every time you use your dryer,” says Emilio Gonzalez, the test engineer who oversees CR’s laundry appliance lab. It doesn’t matter if you take this step before or after running a load, but remove any lint from the screen at some point during each use. “This helps prevent a fire, but it also helps your laundry dry faster,” Gonzalez says.
Replace Accordion-Style Ducts. Generally, dryers are equipped with a 4-inch vent in the back, which homeowners or installers connect to the exterior vent with a duct. But not all ducts are created equal.
If you see a plastic or foil accordion-style duct connecting your appliance to the vent, it’s a good idea to replace it.
“These are risky because they can sag, allowing lint to build up at low points,” says Gonzalez. “And the ridges on this style of duct can trap lint.” He recommends using a metal duct, whether it’s flexible or rigid, since it won’t sag, and lint is less likely to accumulate. Use the shortest length possible, and refer to the manual’s instructions.
Inspect Vent and Exhaust Duct Periodically. If you notice that your dryer takes longer to dry laundry than it used to, it’s a clue that there may be a blockage. Another clue: When you’re drying a load, head outside, and take a look at the dryer vent, if you have access to it. Do you see or feel exhaust air? If not, the vent or exhaust duct may be blocked with lint.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends disconnecting the duct from the dryer, cleaning it out, and reconnecting the duct to the dryer and outside vent. While you’re at it, clean behind the dryer and underneath it—lint builds up there, too. In winter, be sure that snow isn’t covering the outdoor vent.
Take Care When Washing Stained Items
Clothes stained with flammable chemicals or substances, such as gas, cooking oil, cleaning agents, or paint thinners, need special care. The CPSC recommends washing the clothing more than once to minimize the volatile chemicals, then hanging to dry. If you must use a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that concludes with a cool-down period.
In the event that a fire does start, keep the dryer door closed, warns Ahrens—a fire needs oxygen to keep it going.
Source: Consumer Reports
One of the best ways to prevent fires is to have your dryer vent cleaned by a professional such as the experts at ABC Cleaning, Inc.
About ABC Cleaning, Inc. of Orlando, FL
Serving Central Florida since 1992, ABC Cleaning, Inc. has been the acknowledged leader in air duct cleaning, chimney cleaning and dryer vent cleaning. We’re NADCA certified, we consistently invest in and have the most modern equipment and utilize the latest technology available with the best-trained service technicians in all of Orlando. If you need help deciding whether to replace or repair faulty ducts, please contact us at ABC. We provide quality HVAC service throughout Orlando and the surrounding communities. Please give us a call today at 407-381-2120. We are here to help!