The Dangers of Dryer Vent Fires and How to Prevent Them

Clothes dryers are among the appliances many people use daily in their homes, and while they are convenient, they can also be dangerous. According to the US Fire Administration, clothes dryers are responsible for 2,900 house fire problems each year, causing an estimated 435 million property losses.

How Do Clothes Dryer Cause a Fire?

There are many ways dryers cause a fire, but it all starts with a failure to clean your appliance. When lint, hair, and other debris build up in the dryer vent, it restricts airflow. Restricted airflow means your clothes will take longer to dry, which can cause the appliance to overheat and potentially catch fire.

Another way clothes dryers start fires is by igniting combustible materials that have made their way into the vent system. This could be anything from a cotton ball falling out of your pocket to a sock left behind after doing laundry. These items can ignite and result in a fire when they get hot enough.

Other ways include:

  • Faulty wiring. There are times when the wiring in your appliance or the dryer vent can become damaged. This could be from overuse, age, or even rodents chewing on the wires. There is a risk of fire when this occurs.
  • Lint traps that are not emptied. Most clothes dryers have a lint trap that captures some of the lint that comes off your clothes during the drying process. However, if this trap is not emptied after each use, it can quickly become full and cause problems.
  • Overloading. When you overload your clothes dryer, it can cause the appliance to overheat. This is especially true if you dry heavy items like blankets or towels.

How to Prevent a Fire Caused by Dryers?

Here are some helpful tips to avoid dryer-related fires:

  • Clean your lint trap after every load of laundry.
  • Empty your lint trap regularly to avoid a fire hazard. If possible, clean your dryer vent monthly to remove any buildup of lint or debris.
  • Inspect your dryer vent pipe for any signs of wear or damage and replace it if necessary. Be sure to clean behind your dryer occasionally to remove any lint that may have accumulated there.
  • Do not overload your clothes dryer and allow plenty of space around it for proper ventilation.
  • Never leave your clothes dryer running while you are out of the house or asleep.
  • If you observe anything unusual about your dryer, such as excessive noise or heat, stop using it immediately and contact a qualified appliance repair person.

What to Do if a Fire Occurs?

If a fire occurs, you should act quickly and safely. Follow these steps:

  • Immediately unplug the clothes dryer from the electrical outlet.
  • Don’t attempt to fight the fire yourself if it’s massive. Leave your home and call 911 or your local emergency number from a safe location.
  • If you have a fire extinguisher, you may use it to put out the fire, but only if it is small and confined to the area around the clothes dryer.
  • Never use water to extinguish a dryer fire, as this could electrically shock you or make the fire worse.
  • Once the fire is out, don’t try to turn on the dryer or any electrical appliances until a qualified professional inspects it.
  • If the fire is big and causes damage to your home, you may need to contact a restoration company, such as this water & fire damage restoration in Phoenix, AZ, to help repair the damage and get your home back to normal.

Final Thoughts

While clothes dryers are convenient, they can also be a fire hazard if they are not properly used and maintained. Considering the tips above can help prevent a dryer fire in your home. If a fire occurs, act quickly and safely to minimize damage to your home and belongings.