According to the US Fire Administration, the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is a failure to clean them. Fire can occur for many reasons, but the most common is the accumulation of lint, which can block air flow and cause excessive heat build-up. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 15,000 dryer-related fires occur each year, which causes almost $100 million in property damage and about a dozen deaths. People can also suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups.
Avoid dangerous dryer fires with the following tips:
Make sure your dryer is installed by a professional.
Make sure the outlet can handle the load of a dryer. An overloaded electrical outlet can cause blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.
Read the manufacturers’ instructions and care manuals.
Clean the lint filter before and/or after each load of laundry. If lint builds up, it will block the flow of air. If your clothes are still damp at the end of a cycle, or it seems to take longer to dry your clothes, your screen or exhaust duct might be blocked.
Dryers should always vent hot air outside, not into an attic or crawl space.
Clean other areas where lint can build up, such as the back of the dryer and underneath the lint trap. Lint is extremely flammable.
Make sure your dryer is far enough away from the wall. You can crush the venting material if you place the dyer right against the wall.
Clean lint out of the vent pipe and exhaust duct every few months. If there’s a blockage, you may need to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dyer. Just remember to reconnect when you’re finished cleaning.
If you prefer, you can have your dryer cleaned by a professional. It will reduce the fire hazard, increase its efficiency, and prolong its lifespan.
Make sure the venting system behind the dryer isn’t damaged. Your exhaust duct also shouldn’t be too long or contain too many sharp bends and curves to reach the outside of your home. If it does, use a dryer duct booster.
Outside dampers should be free of animal nests, debris, and protected from the elements.
Don’t use plastic, vinyl, or aluminum foil venting materials, as they can more easily trap lint and are more susceptible to crushing or kinks. A metal duct will provide maximum air flow.
Gas-powered dryers should be inspected on a regular basis to make sure there isn’t a gas leak.
Keep the area around the dryer clear of items capable of burning.
Don’t overload your dryer.
Don’t dry anything that contains an excessive amount of foam, rubber, or plastic.
Don’t dry items that have come into contact with flammable materials such as gasoline. If you do, make sure to wash it multiple times to get rid of as much of the volatile chemical as possible and dry on a very low heat setting. But it’s best to air-dry these items.
Turn off dryer when you leave home or are sleeping.