Laundry is a routine task in almost every household across the globe. And in our modern societies, a good percentage does laundry by machine washing and that how the dryer comes into play.
What you don’t know is that these dryers cause tens of thousands of home structure fires every year. The damage that comes with it is beyond the loss of properties and includes injuries and loss of lives. Dryer fires will mostly happen during winter, as the solar heat is very rare at this time of there to dry clothes.
What Causes Dryer Fires?
Like any other household appliance, a dryer comes with a user manual and maintenance checklist. Overlooking your dryer condition will be the first cause of a fire. Failure to do simple procedures like thorough cleaning of lint, especially on lint filter will lead to accumulation of stuff from clothes. When the lint reaches the heating element or exhaust duct, it can easily cause a fire.
To make the situation worse, but without knowing, most people prefer to install dryers in the basement. This means that the dryer vent pipes will have to be much longer to go through the bends of the structure. Even worse, a twisted vent will even trap more lint leading to breakage and subsequent overheating of the entire system.
Now that know that dryer fires are easy to occur, there are some simple measures you can practice in preventing dryer fires and keep your home and family safe. In the discussion, I’ll explore the 10 tips to prevent your dryer fire.
Tips 1: Professional Installation
The first thing to do after purchasing your dryer is to have it fully installed by a licensed professional technician. Poor installation will lead to so many other issues, no matter how much you try to be careful with it.
Proper and careful installation of your dryer by a professional will ensure that your gas or electric dryer is well connected to all other components safely. The most technical installation is the ventilation pipe. Your technician will advise you on how to reduce bends in the duct in order to prevent any chance of lint gathering.
If the vent to your dryer is too long, it’s important that you install a dryer vent fan, even if it would cost you extra coins. This handy electric device helps to speed up airflow through the duct, reducing any chance of lint sticking inside and therefore preventing any potential hazard.
Tips 2: Regular Maintenance Servicing
After successful installation, it’s important to maintain the excellent work done. Experts and manufacturers encourage that you schedule a preventive maintenance exercise for your drier with a certified technician. This is to establish whether any of the parts are wearing out. The ventilation and exhaust system is prone to tears, and replacements should be done as soon as you spot any crack.
In addition, the major cause of dryer fire is the failure to keep it clean. If no replacements are necessary, check behind the dryer for lint buildup. Generally, it’s advisable to clean the interior of your dryer once a year. Also, check the status of the hose and vent for any blockages at least twice a year.
Tips 3: Regular Cleaning of Lint Trap
The primary sources of dryer fires are household dust and lint, which escapes from the filter to the ducts close to the heating elements where temperatures are extremely high. This is a result of not cleaning the lint filter thoroughly and as often as possible.
Keeping the filter clean will not only avert fires but will make your dryer run effectively and efficiently. The first line of defense to adopt during your laundry routine is to clean the screen before and after using the dryer. And never use your dryer without the lint filter.
Tips 4: Keep Flammable stuff away
Lint is not the only flammable material that should be kept away from the dryer heat. Anything else that would easily catch fire should also be cleaned away and disposed of before it becomes a fire hazard.
This process includes dusting lint on the floor and underneath your dryer with a vacuum cleaner and storing away flammable cleaning supplies. On the same note, avoid placing boxes and baskets on top of the dryer.
Any laundry stained with flammable chemicals such as oils should be washed more than once. Also, dry them over the line dry than using the dryer
Tips 5: Use Solid Metal Material for Venting
It’s recommended that you use flexible or solid metal venting material as it enhances good airflow for better drying time. Unlike PVC and aluminium material, a sturdy and semi-rigid metallic duct is more reliable.
I would recommend the Metal Single Elbow Dryer Vent Duct, which has a higher heat resistance of 430 degrees Fahrenheit and offers a smooth interior for lesser air resistance. Each piece also has a length of 8 feet, enough to run smoothly in a standard laundry structure without coiling.
Also, flexible foil or plastic ducts are prone to sagging and will lead to lint buildup as low as near the heating elements. Metal ducts on the other hand don’t sag or bend, and will definitely not catch or spread any fires that would start.
Tips 6: Keep the Dryer’s Ventilation Unrestricted
It’s challenging to know when the ventilation vents are clogged. The best practice is to clean them every time a professional is conducting routine inspections. A buildup of dust and lint will restrict airflow causing overheating, fire and other damages to your dryer.
During other times check you can feel whether there is any airflow from the vent outlet. Lack of which means there is clogging in the ventilation duct. If you can’t wait for a professional, just disconnect the vent from the dryer and outside vent, vacuum it and reconnect back. This is a better risk than having a fire to deal with.
Tips 7: Do Not Overload Your Dryer
Don’t wait until your dirty clothes pile up for you to schedule laundry. Attempting to have all the clothes cleaned on the same day means your washer and dryer will be overloaded and overworked, producing higher temperatures, which is a potential hazard.
Keep organized and split up your heavy laundry to two or three days’ work which will allow the system gears, pulleys and bearing to cool down. This will not only prevent dryer fires but will also ensure the clothes dry properly. It will also prevent early wear and tear, which comes with heavy replacement costs.
Tips 8: Check Electrical Connections
Do not tire to check every time before using your dryer that all electrical connections are okay and observe any changes. Look for anything like a loose connection, tripped circuit breakers, blown fuses or burnt cables. If you find any of these, disconnect the machine and call a technician. Don’t attempt to solve electrical issues yourself.
Ensure your dryer is using the right voltage to function optimally and well-grounded to discharge any electric ions from the main body. Accumulation of electric charges may result is sparks and light up the closest lint causing a fire. If you feel light shocks when you touch the dryer from outside, know there is an electrical issue to be urgently addressed.
Tips 9: Check for gas leaks
Gas leaks are extremely dangerous, as they can cause greater damage without prior warning. This problem is better diagnosed by a professional by using special tools to measure gas pressure.
On your own, if you happen to sense a burning smell, especially when your dryer is running a cycle, just know there might be a gas leak. Do not take chances, immediately shut it down, disconnect power cables and revert to the manufacturer immediately.
Tips 10: Dedicate Specific Laundry Time
Spare some quality time to work on your laundry without trying to multitask. Working on other household chores while your dryer is running is perilous. You may get fatigued and sleep or you won’t notice any malfunction as quickly as possible. Before you know it, it might be too late as your house will have caught fire. It is also a good practice to have a fire extinguisher at a strategic place, just in case the dryer or vent catches fire.
Warning Signs to Look Out For
Dryer fires don’t just happen. There must have been a developing problem that wasn’t fixed in good time and become a disaster waiting to happen. You or your partner may not have any technical idea about dryers, but there are easy signs that will help you point all is not okay in good time. These include the following;
- If your clothes dryer is becoming inefficient, it increases the risk of fire.
- The lint filter is abnormally clean, meaning the stuff is passing through.
- The top or outside of your dryer is too hot when running.
- Your clothes take more than one cycle to dry or come out hotter than usual
- Your dryer stops often during one cycle.
- The air and walls of the laundry are humid.
- Your outdoor dryer vent fails to open fully.
Laundry is a daily or weekly exercise in almost every household, save for those who take clothes to laundry service providers. It’s therefore important that the dryer is kept in its best working condition. Routine dryer maintenance is as good as routine laundry. Observing the safety measures and avoiding bad laundry habits will go a long way in preventing your home and family from dryer related fires.
If you’d like to book a dryer maintenance schedule, get in touch with our office and our experts will be happy to help.