Laundry Fires Part 1: Dryer Fires
What would be the worst thing to happen to your belongings while doing the laundry? Most people would say clothes shrinking and or colors running. However, there are some worse disasters that can occur during the drying stage of laundry. A particularly common laundry disaster is a dryer fire. There is an estimated 15,500 fires and over $100,000,000 per year in damages as a result of dryer fires. In many cases these fires can be prevented.
What is a dryer fire?
A dryer fire is simply a fire that is started as a result of a drying machine. Dryer fires are one of the most common causes of household fires. Surprisingly, dryer fires are less common in laundromats and commercial applications.
What are the Common Causes?
One of the main causes of dryer fires results from your dryer exhaust vent filling with lint. The lint that sneaks by your dryer's filter starts to line the walls of the exhaust tube. The lint can block the flow of air, causing excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire.
The best ways to prevent this type of fire is by replacing the accordion style exhaust duct with a fixed exhaust tube. A fixed tube is significantly easier to clean and maintain. If that is not an option cleaning the exhaust duct every 3 months is huge for dryer fire prevention. Making sure the vent outside is clear of obstruction is equally as important for prevention. There are many tools availible to clean the exhaust tube. There are some commercial options and do it yourself options for cleaning your exhaust tube and vent.
The second most common cause of a dryer fire takes place within the machine itself. This cause is also related to lint build up. Lint is supposed to be stopped by the lint filter during the drying process. If the lint filter is not properly cleaned before every load the lint will build up on the filter. The build up causes the dryer to overheat because it cannot vent properly. Which leads to heat above the flashpoint of the lint and a fire can began.
This cause can be easily prevented by removing the lint off of the filter before each load of laundry. It is also suggested to keep the load size at a manageable level to reduce the amount of lint that is trapped with every load. The larger the load the more lint will be trapped and the potential for a fire is higher. Below, there is a video that demonstrates a good lint removal technique.
In summary, it is easy to take preemptive measures to avoid dryer fires from being an issue. Clean the lint trap upon every load to avoid excessive lint build up. Never operate the dryer without the lint trap. Also, every 3 months clean out the exhaust duct. Following these preemptive measures will allow your dryers to function correctly and more efficiently and most importantly prevent fires.