How To Prevent Dryer Fires: 12 Easy Steps
More than 80% of homeowners throughout the U.S. own a dryer. They might be one of our most-used appliances, especially in colder states – but these machines are also one of the leading causes of house fires in America.
If you want to find out how you can prevent dryer fire, read on. We’ve put together our top 12 easy tips to use your appliance safely and stop a fire from occurring in your home.
1. Get Your Dryer Installed By A Professional
One of the simplest ways to prevent a dryer fire is by getting your unit professionally installed. Although you’ll find plenty of DIY advice online, we don’t recommend installing anything that involves gas or electricity by yourself.
A certified electrician or engineer will know how to install both gas and electric dryers, and will be familiar with the key manufacturer requirements. Components such as the vent pipe and fan can be serious fire risks if they’re installed incorrectly.
By hiring a proper professional, you can have complete peace of mind that your dryer is fully signed off and ready to go.
2. Keep The Area Around Your Dryer Clear
Have you ever considered how many items in your laundry room are flammable? From piles of clothes to specialized washing solvents, these items are huge risks. They might be daily essentials, but if your dryer caught fire, these items could turn a small flame into a major blaze.
To prevent fire, keep your laundry room as clear as possible. Don’t store clothes near your appliances and make sure your dryer isn’t beneath a window with curtains, as these can easily catch alight.
If you have any washing products that are flammable, store them in cupboards instead of on countertops or on top of your dryer.
3. Clean Out The Lint Filter After Each Cycle
It’s not just flammables in your laundry room that can pose a fire risk; the lint that builds up in your dryer is also a serious hazard. The U.S Fire Administration reports that a staggering 34% of dryer fires start because people have failed to clean their appliance for lint.
During each cycle, the heating element in your dryer can reach temperatures of 550°. This heat can cause the lint in your filter to catch fire, which is incredibly difficult (not to mention dangerous) to put out.
To make sure you don’t become part of the statistics, it’s vital to clean the lint filter regularly – ideally, before and after each load of laundry.
4. Avoid Overloading Your Dryer
It might seem more efficient to put as much laundry in as you can. However, this can be a serious mistake. Not only can the excess weight cause your machine to break down – it can also cause the temperatures in your unit to rise, increasing your risk of starting a fire.
When you put a lot of clothes in your dryer, the pulleys, drum belt, and spindle bearings have to work much harder than usual. This results in higher temperatures and increased friction.
Luckily, it’s easy to prevent this – simply do your laundry in smaller batches!
5. Clean Your Exhaust Vent Regularly
We all know that lint can build up in our filters, but it can also cause serious problems in our exhaust vents. When lint accumulates in the hoses, you could soon have a major blockage on your hands. This will restrict the airflow and mean your unit can’t be properly ventilated.
You can check that your exhaust vent is clear by seeing whether you feel any air while the dryer is running. If there’s no obvious air flow, it could be a sign that you’ve got a build-up of lint.
It’s possible to remove the lint yourself by disconnecting the exhaust vent and clearing out any lint. Contact one of our professionals at All Dry USA for help.
6. Never Leave Your Dryer Running Unattended
It’s always tempting to stick an extra load of laundry in overnight or while you’re out – but leaving your dryer unattended is never a good idea, even if it’s been recently serviced.
If a fire starts while you’re out or asleep, you won’t have the chance to put out the flames before it’s too late. This is especially important if your dryer is in your kitchen or bathroom, which could contain other flammable items.
To be safe, never leave your dryer running if you’re not going to be home and keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case a fire starts.
7. Don’t Place Your Dryer Directly Against The Wall
Many people push their unit right against the wall to save space. However, this can reduce the amount of airflow and make it harder for your unit to ventilate – which can lead to overheating.
To prevent this, make sure to leave a gap between the back of your dryer and the wall. The safest distance will depend on your manufacturer. A space of 5 inches will promote airflow. It will also mean that the noise your unit makes won’t be as audible through the walls!
8. Make Sure Your Vent Hose Is Safe
Does your dryer have a vent hose made of plastic? If so, stop using your dryer immediately – these pipes, typically made from flexible white plastic, are extremely dangerous. They were outlawed in 2006, so if your dryer is older than this, double check the material of your hose now.
Your hose should be made from thin metal such as aluminium, which is much less likely to overheat and catch fire than its plastic predecessors. Inspect your hose regularly to make sure that it’s not damaged or kinked.
9. Have Your Dryer Regularly Serviced
Clearing your dryer filter and vent after every cycle is a crucial step for anyone who owns a dryer. But to make sure your appliance is as safe as possible, you should also have it regularly serviced by a professional.
Although lint can build up in almost every part of your dryer, it can be difficult to check this yourself. Taking a dryer apart is a serious job – so every 1 to 3 years, call one of our technicians to do this for you. We can remove any lint that’s built up within the drum, as well as check for any other issues which could become a fire hazard further down the line.
10. Check Your Gas Line
If you have a gas dryer and it catches fire, it can lead to disaster – you might even have an explosion. You should have your gas line professionally on a regular basis. A technician will inspect your gas line and make sure you don’t have any problems, such as gas leaks.
Make sure to stop using your dryer at once if you start to smell gas or burning.
11. Don’t Put Unsuitable Clothing Inside Your Dryer
Some items of clothing should never be put in your dryer. Putting unsuitable items on for a spin won’t just damage your clothes – it can also seriously increase your risk of starting a fire.
At the top of the list are clothes which have metal or plastic embellishments such as sequins, diamantes, or gemstones. These embellishments could melt due to the heat in the dryer, and easily catch fire if they become hot enough.
You should also never try to dry clothes (or kitchen towels) which have oil stains in them, even if you think you’ve washed the oil out. Any oil residue will be extremely flammable, so put the items on a very hot wash a few times before risking them in the dryer.
Other items that are best left out of your dryer include:
- Large bedding
These are heavy and easily overload the drum, which can then overheat.
12. Don’t Stop The Dryer Before The Cooling Cycle
No matter how impatient you feel, always resist the urge to take your clothes out before the drying cycle is complete. Grabbing hot clothes straight out of the drum can cause burns, especially if you touch a metal zip or clasp. Even worse, the friction of removing the clothes could cause them to catch alight.
To prevent this, make sure you wait until the drying cycle is complete before opening the door.
Whether you’ve got a gas or electric dryer, we hope these 12 easy tips will help you use your appliance more safely. Not only will these tips prevent fire – they can also boost the lifespan of your dryer and your clothes.
If you think you might have a problem with your dryer, call one of our certified experts at All Dry USA today. We can take a look at your unit and make sure it’s safe to use.