Only You Can Prevent Dryer Vent Fires


For most of us, life without the conveniences of electricity, indoor plumbing, washers and dryers and other modern “miracles” is unfathomable. However, along with these convenience comes the responsibility of taking care of the items that use them. For instance, not maintaining the plumbing system can cause you a long list of problem often with expensive repairs and ignoring the power of electricity can result in numerous problems and even death. With that mind, your dryer is another household item that can also become a hazard if not properly cared for.

A few decades ago, there was an average of 24,000 house fires as a result of the dryer per year. Today, that number has dropped significantly (15,500), but it is still much too high. However, as a result of the high numbers of bygone days, there have been many changes made to the industry thanks to the work of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Of course, there are still many things you can do to prevent becoming the victim of a dryer vent fire. Here are the top 3 ways:

Read the Instruction Manual!While using a dryer may seem to be a basic task, every dryer is different. Taking time to read the instructions lets you know if there are any special load requirements, products or other vital information you need to prevent a fire. Also, most dryers have warning labels on the inside of the lid. Be sure to read those and follow/avoid as directed Dryer vent cleaning.

Clean the dryer vent on a regular basis. While the dryer is in operation, go outside to where the dryer vent is and make sure that the exhaust air is escaping; you should feel moist warm air blowing. If you feel little or no air, the vent is likely blocked, in which case it is necessary to disconnect the duct from the dryer and remove the blockage. Often this can be done with a long-handled brush. Of course, if preferred, you can call in a professional to do the job for you.

Clean the lint tray.This is perhaps one of the easiest things you can do to lower your risk of a dryer vent fire. Either before or after each load of laundry, take a few moments to clean the lint tray so that it won’t build up and get trapped in the vent. Also, at least once a month, use the hose of your vacuum cleaner to vacuum out the lint tray cavity.

There are several tell-tale signs that your fryer vent or lint tray has lint build-up.

  • Your clothes take longer and longer to dry.
  • Clothes are excessively hot at the end of the drying time and the outside of the dryer is extremely hot.
  • The laundry room becomes hotter and more humid than normal.
  • The laundry room smells like something is burning.
  • The outside exhaust vent flapper doesn’t open easily.

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