Common Causes of Dryer Fires and How To Prevent Them

Fred's Appliance
March 20, 2014

Common Causes of Dryer Fires and How To Prevent Them

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), clothes dryers result in an estimated 15,000-16,000 house fire each year. While manufacturers today have taken extra steps to ensure their products are safe to use, there remains a very real threat of starting a fire when clothes dryers are not properly maintained. As a consumer, you must take a proactive approach towards cleaning and maintaining your clothes dryer; otherwise, you run the risk of sparking a fire.

The single most common cause of dryer-related fires is from buildups of lint. I think we’ve all been guilty of drying clothes without cleaning the lint filter first. In most cases, this won’t lead to any problems, but it’s those rare occasions that result in fires. The excess lint stuck inside the filter may catch fire from the excessive heat. To prevent this from happening, you should get into the habit of cleaning the lint filter each and every time you wish to use your clothes dryer.

A clogged exhaust vent is another common cause of dryer fires. When the exhaust duct becomes clogged – whether it’s from lint, dryer sheets or even articles of clothing – it prevents the hot air from escaping, allowing potentially dangerous buildups of gases. Clothes dryers must have an open, functional tunnel to exhaust the hot air. Without an exhaust duct, there’s a potential risk of fire.

Signs of a Clogged Dryer Exhaust :

  •  Unusual odor originating from inside the dryer.
  • Clothes are coming out of the dryer wet.
  • Dryer sounds a little “off” while it’s running.
  • The duct won’t stay attached to the wall.
  • Visible buildups of lint and/or debris stuck inside the duct.

Opting for an all-metal exhaust duct rather than plastic or foil is a simple way to reduce the chance of blockages and ultimately fires. Appliance manufacturers once used plastic materials to create exhaust hoses, as it saved them money on production. Unfortunately, it was determined that plastic exhaust hoses led to buildups of lint and debris. A better solution is to use an all-metal (not foil) exhaust hose. These are stronger, more durable and able to hold their shape better than plastic models.

The key thing to remember is that dryer lint and clogged exhaust lines are the two most common causes of dryer fires. Consumers should check these areas on a regular basis to ensure they are clean and free of obstruction.

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