Preventing Fires Caused by Dryer Vent Buildup

close up of a closed dryer vent opening showing lots of build ups

Dryer lint is extremely flammable. U.S. fire departments respond to an average of more than 14,500 dryer fires each year, and dryer lint igniting causes 27% of them. Since these fires cause an average of 13 deaths, 444 injuries, and $238 million in property damage each year, you could say that dryer lint kills three people and injures 120 more each year.

If that seems like a shocking statistic, it’s because it is, especially since avoiding dryer lint fires is so simple. In fact, 31% of these fires result from a failure to clean out the dryer lint or perform routine maintenance.

Keep reading to learn some tips and advice for how to prevent fires caused by dryer vent build-up.

How Does Dryer Vent Buildup Cause Fire?

You are probably familiar with the lint trap on your dryer, but you may not realize that it doesn’t catch all of the lint from your dryer. Some of it gets past the filter, and once it does, it can catch in the duct that vents the air from your dryer to the outside of your home. Once trapped there, it’s likely to trap more, leading to a clogged vent.

Since dryer lint is so flammable, any heat or spark can ignite it, and while your dryer shouldn’t be producing sparks, it does create heat. A bit of stray lint won’t cause a problem if ignited, but large collections of lint could burn long and hot enough to ignite their surroundings and lead to a house fire.

How to Prevent Dryer Vent Fires

Clean the Lint Filter

Cleaning your lint filter is the easiest measure you can take toward preventing a dryer fire. Remove the filter from your machine and clean off as much lint as possible. You can also use a vacuum to remove lint from the filter and the slot that holds it.

Replace Accordion-Style Ducts

Accordion-style ducts can sag or bend and increase the potential for lint to become trapped. The accordion folds can also collect lint. The ideal solution is to replace the flexible accordion-style duct with a rigid metal one. The smooth inside of the duct allows air and lint to flow freely through without catching.

Clean the Dryer Duct Annually (At Least)

You should clean your dryer duct periodically — at least once every year. To do this, unplug your dryer, pull it away from the wall, disconnect the duct, and vacuum it out. You may have to take apart sections of the duct to access all of it. Alternatively, you can hire a professional dryer vent cleaning service to handle the job.

Handle Chemical Stains with Care

If your clothes were stained with a flammable liquid, such as cooking oil or gasoline, avoid putting them in the dryer. If the substance wasn’t completely washed out, it could ignite. Hang dry the stained items instead.

Hire Experts to Help 

For professional help with dryer vent clean-up and fire prevention, our experts are ready to help! We can clean your dryer vents, air ducts, and even your carpets. Reach out to us now for a free quote and to get help with your dryer vent cleaning today.

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