Dryers are among the least-discussed fire threats in the home, but can be a major risk when not properly monitored and managed. The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the government entity devoted to emergency response and prevention, states that 2,900 dryer-caused house fires occur each year resulting in an estimated $35 million in damages.
Rather than allowing this severe fire threat go on unchecked in your home, you can take steps to mitigate it as comprehensively as possible.
Understanding the basics of cleaning
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also explains that homeowners need to regularly clean their dryers, following the guidance of user-manuals that come with the appliance. According to the agency, about 34% of all dryer-related house fires are the direct result of not cleaning the equipment properly.
FEMA suggests checking and emptying the lint filter before putting anything into the dryer, and clearing out the vent pipe at least once every three months. Some of the signs that a threat might be rising in terms of fire include lint not being caught, clothes taking longer than normal to dry and smells coming from the vent. As a note, you should always refer to your owner's manual when cleaning the equipment, as different dryers will have varied cleaning requirements and best practices.
What's more, FEMA points out, winter tends to be the most common time of the year for dryer-caused house fires.
A closer look at vents
Knowing how and when to clean out the lint filter is simple enough to determine, but the vents take a bit more consideration. Window Genie, a cleaning service provider, explains that vents can very quickly and quietly get clogged, forcing the air that ought to be exiting the house to be trapped. The company points out: If the room with the dryer is always warm when the machine is running, if odd smells occur or if the clothes themselves are abnormally hot when you take them out, there is likely a problem with the vent.
The firm notes that this is one of the reasons why a dryer should never be used when you are out of the house, as it could be catch fire and the homeowner wouldn’t know. Additionally, due to the extensive nature of cleaning the vents, Window Genie urges homeowners to consider the merits of trying a professional service provider for their vent cleaning needs.
Here are three more tips to reduce your chances of a damaging dryer fire:
- Before buying a dryer, check the manufacturer's history to ensure it has not produced dryers that have malfunctioned and caused fires in the past.
- Read the entire owner's manual before operating.
- Take time once every few months to check the vents, lint catcher and other components of the machine.