There are a number of ways fireplace owners protect their families from accidental house fires, from installing smoke alarms to having their fireplaces regularly swept and maintained. However, all homeowners – not just those who have fireplaces – should have their dryer vents regularly cleaned to prevent house fires.
Clogged dryer vents cause fires
As our dryers dry our clothes, small amounts of fabric are shed. These fabric fibers are what create the lint that is found in the lint trap after each load. However, over time lint can also accumulate in the dryer ductwork and vents. If too much lint accumulates it can constrict the dryer’s airflow, causing the dryer to create hotter and hotter air to dry the clothes. This progressively hotter air can ignite the highly flammable lint, starting a dryer fire that may quickly spread throughout your home.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there are thousands of house fires caused by dryers each year. These fires cause more than $200 million in damages along with numerous injuries and deaths. Fortunately, the risk of dryer fire can be greatly reduced with proper dryer vent maintenance.
Signs your dryer vents need to be cleaned
Many homeowners may not recognize the signs their dryers need to be cleaned. Luckily, there are a number of signs that may indicate it is time to get your dryer vents cleaned. Likewise, even if you are not experiencing any of these symptoms it is still recommended to have dryer vents cleaned at least once per year.
- A single load of clothes takes more than a full cycle to dry
- The drying time needed for a single load exceeds 45 minutes
- The laundry room becomes significantly warmer when the dryer is in use
- The lint trap is full or has larger than normal amounts of lint after a single load
- The dryer or the clothes themselves have a noticeably musty odor
- There is an excessive buildup of lint or debris around exterior vents
If you’ve noticed a decrease in your dryer’s performance, consider having the dryer vents cleaned before purchasing a new appliance. If the dryer vents are clogged, purchasing a new appliance will not solve the issue! Instead, have your dryer vents cleaned first and potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Ways to prevent dryer fires
In additionally to having your dryer vents professionally cleaned at least once a year, there are a number of things that homeowners can do to reduce their risk for dryer fire.
- Clean the lint trap after every dryer load
- Keep the area around the dryer clean and clear. Avoid stacking laundry next to or on top of the dryer, and regularly clean behind the dryer
- Consider replacing plastic or foil accordion-style ducts with rigid or semi-rigid varieties
- Call a dryer vent cleaning service as soon as you notice any signs of clogged ducts