Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dryer Fires Prevention Tips

Very few people realize the importance of clothes dryer fire prevention. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting. provides the following safety and efficiency tips:

* Use metal dryer ducts to help prevent dryer fires. Consumer Reports says that flexible dryer ducts made of foil or plastic are the most problematic because they can sag and let lint build up at low points. Ridges can also trap lint. Metal ducts, either flexible or solid, are far safer because they don't sag, so lint is less likely to build up. In addition, if a fire does start, a metal duct is more likely to contain it. See our dryer venting safety report for more tips as well as photos and a dryer-venting video.
* No matter which kind of duct you have, you should clean it regularly. In addition, remove the visible lint from the lint screen each time you use your dryer. This not only will reduce the risk of a fire, but your clothes will dry faster and your dryer will use less energy. If dryer film is a worry, there is certainly no harm in occasionally cleaning the lint filter with warm soapy water and a small brush.
* Clean inside, behind, and underneath the dryer, where lint can also build up.
* Take special care drying clothes stained with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. Wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of these chemicals on the clothing, and line dry instead of using a dryer.
* Avoid using liquid fabric softener on all-cotton clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour. In our flammability tests, liquid fabric softener added to rinse water accelerated the burning speed of these fabrics. If you want a softener, use dryer sheets instead.
* Buy dryers that use moisture sensors rather than ordinary thermostats to end the auto-dry cycle. Thermostats can allow the dryer to run longer than necessary.
* Occasionally wipe the sensor with a soft cloth or cotton ball and rubbing alcohol to keep it functioning accurately. Sensors are usually located on the inside of the dryer, just below the door opening, and can be hard to find. They are usually two curved metallic strips, shaped somewhat like the letter "C".

Other great tips from GE
* Garments labeled Dry Away from Heat or Do Not Tumble Dry (such as life jackets containing kapok) must not be put in your dryer.

* Do not dry articles containing rubber, plastic, foam or similar materials such as padded bras, galoshes, bath mats, rugs, bibs, baby pants, pastic bags and pillows, that may melt or burn. Some rubber materials, when heated, can under circumstances produce fire by spontaneous combustion 

How do I know if my dryer is about to fail?
Your Dryer May be Failing If:
The clothes are taking an inordinately long period of time to dry, come out hotter than usual or if the vent hood flapper doesn't open. Maintenance is needed in these cases. 

Keep Your Dryer as Lint-Free as Possible
By keeping your dryer clean, not only will you significantly reduce the fire hazard, you will also save money as your dryer will run more efficiently and last longer.
To keep your dryer clean:
1. Use a lint brush or vacuum attachment to remove accumulated lint from under the lint trap and other accessible places on a periodic basis.
2. Every 1-3 years, depending upon usage, have the dryer taken apart and thoroughly cleaned out by a qualified service technician.
3. Clean the lint trap after each load. 

Why should I have a technician take everything apart if I diligently clean my lint filter after each use?
Lint is the biggest culprit here. As you know from cleaning out your lint filter, dryers produce very large quantities of lint. Most people assume their lint traps catch all the lint, and that all they need to do is clean them out after each load. However, a significant amount of this lint is not caught by the lint trap and builds up inside the dryer-even on the heating element! If you are skeptical, try this experiment: pull out the lint trap and look underneath it- you may find large mounds of lint staring at you. Lint can build up on the heating element and in other places inside the dryer, causing it to overheat and possibly catch fire. As a rule, a fire starts from a spark in the machine. However, improper clothes dryer venting practices outside the dryer can play a key role in this process. 

Alternative Solutions
1. Use a condensing dryer. Unlike conventional clothes dryers, condensing dryers do require external clothes dryer venting. This significantly reduces the risk of a dryer fire.
2. Use a spin dryer, which uses an extremely fast spin speed to extract water from the clothes. They extract significantly more water from the clothes than a washing machine spin cycle does. Spin dryers can be used alone or in conjunction with a conventional clothes dryer.

...Let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or even worse, when you are asleep.

...Read manufacturers' instructions regarding the safe use of their dryers.

What if a fire starts? What should I do?
- First of all make sure you have a UL ABCRated Fire Extinguisher in close proximity (with easy access in the laundry room or area - Not in another room.
- If you can unplug the dryer, do so.
- Try to extinguish the fire immediately using the fire extinguisher. If the flames are taller than you and/or have spread and/or cannot be controlled within 30 seconds, close access to that area. Evacuate your family and pets. Take your phone. Call 911 from outside the residence.
- NOTE: Simply closing the door to the dryer will NOT keep the fire contained as it might have started in the duct, and the heat inside the dryer will engulf more material and eventually melt the door frame and spread to the rest of the property.
When the fire starts, you do not have a lot of time to work with. Flames travel fast.
To learn more about fire extinguishers & for instructions on how to use a fire extinguisher click here

Dryer Fires In the News
NBC4 Report -  Click here
NBC Today Show - Click here

Nothing personal against the Frigidaire Brand but you wanna read about customer experiences and how fast they almost lost everything due to a dryer fire click here

1 comment:

  1. Dryer vent cleaning should be performed at least once a year to ensure your dryer is operating safely and efficiently. Failure to clean dryer vents is the number one cause of dryer related fires. Some people need to clean dryer vents more often, depending on several factors, including family size and age of the dryer.

    How old is the dryer?

    The older your dryer is the more likely you are to have a problem with lint build-up in the dryer vent system. Also keep in mind that older clothes dryers were not built to the same efficient standards as today's dryers so they may require more maintenance to keep them running efficiently.

    How large is your family?

    Do you just do a couple of loads of laundry on the weekend or do you have a very large family? The more active your clothes dryer is, the more often you will require dryer vent cleaning.

    How long is your dryer vent?

    The length of a dryer vent is a major factor to consider when scheduling regular maintenance. If you have a dryer vent that is more than 10 feet long (meaning from the back of your dryer to where the line terminates outside your home), this means a lot more space where lint can be trapped along the path and a higher need for more frequent cleanings.

    How many bends and turns?

    If your dryer vent system contains too many bends and turns your dryer will labor hard as it expels the heat and moisture. Dust and lint will build up more quickly in a dryer vent system with 45 or 90 degree turns. A dryer vent exhaust specialist will be able to correct this problem in most cases.

    Dryer Vent Cleaning

    Dryer vent cleaning is typically recommended annually by manufacturers and dryer exhaust specialists. If you have an unusual dryer duct system that is longer than average, and/or one with several bends and turns, or if you have a large family, your dryer vent professional might recommend dryer vent cleaning more often.

    Dave Lavalle owns Dryer Vent Wizard, specializing in all dryer vent issues. Gina will do a complete inspection of your dryer vent system and explain your options. Dryer Vent Wizard provides dryer vent cleaning, dryer vent repair and dryer vent installation services for homes and businesses in Mecklenburg County, Charlotte, Huntersville, Matthews, Pineville, Cornelius, Lake Norman, South Park, Ballentyne and neighboring cities and communities. 28202, 28203, 28204, 28205, 28206, 28207, 28208, 28209, 28210, 28211, 28213, 28214, 28215, 28216, 28217, 28223, 28226, 28035, 28036, 28025, 28027, 28078, 28134, 28031, 28144, 28146, 28147.

    Learn more at


    David Lavalle
    10937 Harrowfield Rd
    Charlotte, NC 28226


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