Dryer vents are a major source of fires that can easily spread out of the vent pipe and into the structure of the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an average of more than 14,500 residential fires originate in clothes dryers each year, causing damage that exceeds $235 million annually. The NFPA also reports that nearly one-third of these fires can be attributed to neglected maintenance that includes not cleaning the dryer vents.
The fuel that causes fires in dryer vents is an accumulation of tiny lint fibers shed by fabrics during the drying process. Dryers naturally produce a lot of lint. In fact, there’s a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest ball of dryer lint. The combination of tiny flammable fibers collecting within a dryer vent, along with concentrated heat sufficient to ignite the fibers, can potentially result in an almost explosive, high-temperature fire.
Prevent dangerous dryer fires by cleaning the filter and keeping up with annual vent maintenance in the following ways:
- Be aware of warning signs. Certain indications of lint accumulation in the dryer vent include the dryer taking an excessively long time to dry clothes, lint escaping around the dryer-door seal, lint particles on dried clothes, and automatic dryer shut-off due to excessively high internal temperatures.
- Clean the vent filter and replace it on time. The lint filter should be manually cleaned between every load of clothes without fail. Use your fingers — or better yet, a brush — to remove the lint that’s clinging to the filter. The replaceable paper filter element itself should be changed every three to six months, depending on how frequently the dryer is used.
- Keep up with annual preventive maintenance. Dryer manufacturers usually recommend scheduling dryer vent service to be done by a certified technician every year. The vent pipe will be opened up and the entire span inspected for leaks or blockages. The vent pipe is then vacuumed to completely remove all lint accumulation.
If any of the above-mentioned danger signs of excess lint are noted, don’t wait for an annual inspection. Instead, call for service immediately.
For more about the safety of dryer vents and regular professional service to ensure it, contact Jackson & Sons.Winter Insulation: Be Sure Your Home Has the Best » « Protect Your Home During a Furnace Outage