Taking measures to prevent a clothes dryer fire is imperative to the safety of your family. According to the United States Fire Administration (Fema), clothes dryers cause more than 12,700 residential fires annually resulting in an average of 300 injuries and 15 deaths.
Failure to clean the appliance properly contributes to 70% of residential clothes dryer fires, while the remainder are due to other factors such as an unsafe dryer location, and drying clothes that have been tainted with flammable liquids. Take the following measures to prevent a clothes dryer fire in your home.
How to Clean the Clothes Dryer
Lint is created from the combination of clothing particles, water, and hot air, which slough off of the clothes and enter the clothes dryer barrel. Much of the lint is trapped in the lint screen, but some of it moves through the ducting and into the interior of the dryer chassis, which under the hot air conditions of a dryer become a highly flammable fuel source.
Lint Screen: The lint screen should be cleaned before and after every load. Inspect for rips and tears and replace if necessary.
Interior Dryer Chassis: Lint is trapped between the interior of the dryer where the clothes are placed and the walls of the appliance. This area should be professionally cleaned periodically.
Ducting: Over time, lint accumulates in the ducting. Inspect the dryer vent and exhaust path once a month to remove any obstructions.
Additional Dryer Safety Measures
Ducting: Use rigid or corrugated rigid ducting material on the interior of your exhaust duct. Plastic or foil ducting material is more susceptible to lint accumulation and is easily creased greatly reducing airflow.
Location: Place your clothes dryer on an outside wall for ease of venting directly out of doors. This installation requires a shorter ducting distance and more direct route from dryer to outside vent than placing the unit in an interior room such as a bathroom that may require an exceptionally long exhaust system with bends and turns.
Clutter Free: Keep clutter away from the exterior of the clothes dryer to allow for proper venting. Clean lint from around the dryer as it accumulates.
Drying Combustible Materials Is Dangerous
Flammable Liquids: If you have spilled gasoline or any other volatile liquid on your clothing, do not place it in the dryer after washing. The wash may not have removed all of the spill leaving it highly flammable. Instead, wash the clothing multiple times, and hang it out to dry.
Flammable Objects: Never dry anything made of plastic, rubber, or foam. Synthetic materials such as these ignite at lower temperatures and burn at higher temperatures than natural materials.
“Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings.” Topical Fire Research Series 7.1 (2007): all. Print.
“Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires.” CPSC Safety Alerts. Consumer Product Safety Commission, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2012.