Sometimes the greatest dangers to a home are left unattended for years without anyone noticing. These issues go undetected because they are hidden and not visible to your everyday activities around the house. We are talking about build-up in your dryer vents.
Long-term accumulation of lint, cotton fibers, and other laundry debris in your dryer vents creates a major fire hazard that could potentially put everyone in your household at risk. But luckily, there is a simple solution – getting your dryer vents cleaned regularly!
But first, let’s learn a little bit more about dryer vent fires by exploring the four main causes:
- Flammable Materials
- Electrical Hazards
- Poor Installation
- Lack of Awareness
1. Flammable Materials
Like we said at the beginning, lint and cotton fibers are extremely flammable textiles. Even the slightest exposure to a flame can set these materials ablaze in seconds. Think of it like kindling to a campfire. The fibers are small twigs, and when they are dry and close together, it makes for the perfect fire starter.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports local fire departments in the U.S. responded to more than 13,000 house fires caused by dryers from 2014 to 2018. Of those fires, 32 percent were caused by failing to clean dryer vents.
2. Electrical Hazards
Cluttered dryer events are only part of the issue. Lint cannot catch on fire without a source. And usually, that source is electrical. The NFPA’s data shows 78 percent of dryer fires are electrical because most people have electric-powered appliances.
Plug-ins, outlets, and cords pose the biggest risk for an electrical fire. Anytime an electrical circuit shorts or a piece of equipment is not working properly, your laundry room is susceptible to an electrical fire.
3. Poor Installation
A lot of times, with dryer machines, people try to install them on their own without the help of a professional. This saves money and avoids the need to schedule an appointment, but hooking your dryer up properly is more valuable than both of those shortcuts.
Incorrect dryer setup makes problems like the lint build-up and electrical shortages more prevalent. The chances of starting an electrical fire are reduced when the dryer machine is in working condition. This means the outlets are functioning properly, the dryer vent is aligned perfectly with the machine, and there is good airflow through the vent.
4. Lack of Awareness
Sometimes the worst problems are the ones you never expect. Most people would not think of their laundry room as a fire hazard. Kitchens, electrical closets, and garages are more fitting places for a fire to occur. And because of this thought process, dryer vents are left untouched.
Having that situational awareness floating around in the back of your mind every time you do the laundry will help you remember the risks of dryer vent fires. There are also a few fire prevention measures you can take.
Here are three quick and easy steps to avoid dry vent fires:
1. Use Lint Filter
A lint filter is a standard screen that slides in and out of the slot located in your dryer door. Always remember to insert the filter into the slot before drying clothes because it will collect the leftover lint and fibers. Then dispose of the lint in a garbage bag outside the laundry room.
It is good practice to throw away lint screen remnants in a different room because then those fibers are nowhere near any electrical equipment that could cause combustion. Lint filters also help prevent build-up in the dryer vents.
2. Maintain Appliances
Electrical failures that cause dryer vent fires are less of a problem when you keep your dryer in working order. If something seems wrong or you think the dryer is malfunctioning, pick up the phone and call an expert. Dryer vent fires are preventable when you take the time to ensure your dryer machine is operational.
3. Schedule Regular Cleaning
Every home, office building, and apartment complex should clean dryer vents frequently to avoid future problems. Larger buildings with several occupants must maintain communal laundry facilities because they are constantly cycling through people daily, which dirties dryer vents at a much faster rate.
Clean dryer vents will reduce the threat of a future catastrophe. All it takes is one quick phone call, and a technician can come directly into your laundry room and assess the situation. In less than 30 minutes, your dryer vents will be fully cleaned and have you ready to do laundry without the fear of starting a fire.