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  • Writer's pictureBeacon Fine Inspections

Clothes Dryer Safety

Picture of the interior of a clothes dryer with clothes
Clothes dryer interior

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), approximatley 14,700 fires a year are started by clothes dryers. These fires cause approximately $238 million a year in property damage. With these statistics in mind, we've compiled a list of clothes dryer vent safety recommedations to help keep your family and home safe.

Clothes Dryer Vent Safety Recommendations:

  • Always follow the clothes dryer manufacturer's recommendations for installation, operation, and maintenance. Clothes dryers, especially gas dryers, should be installed by a professional. Care shoud be taken to ensure proper electrical connections and grounding.

  • Clean the lint filter after every use and check around the door for lint build up. Replace the lint filter if it becomes damaged.

  • Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter.

  • Use a metal smooth-walled dryer vent instead of the accordian type vents. Accordian-type vents can trap more lint and also cause turbulance, which can impact dryer efficiency.

  • If you have a gas dryer only, use an approved vent. In addition to venting the dryer, the vent also vents combustion gases (e.g., carbon monoxide). Use of an improper vent (e.g., plastic accordian style) can cause combusiton gases to enter the home, causing a life safety hazard. Gas dryers should be periodially inspected by a professional.

  • Periodically clean your dryer vent. The exterior vent termination should be inspected for damage, obstructions, and proper operation. Excessive lint buildup is the number one cause of dryer vent fires. If you are not comfortable doing this, there are professional services that clean dryer vents.

  • Vent connections should be periodically inspected to ensure that they are secure. If you have a gas dryer, the gas connections should also be checked.

  • Keep the dryer vent duct at the shortest possible length. Avoid kinks and excessive changes in direction as they can trap more lint. Typically accepted installation practices call for the length of the dryer vent duct to be no more than 25 feet.

  • The dryer vent should always vent to the exterior through a properly installed and approved dryer vent termination.

  • Keep the area around the dryer free of flammables and lint.

  • Do not dry clothes that have been exposed to flammables (e.g., gasoline or cooking oil) if they still smell of the substance. The heat of the dryer can ignite these substances.

  • Avoid drying items that contain plastic or rubber (e.g., bath mats with a rubber backing). Plastic and rubber can melt, presenting a fire hazard and damaging other items in the dryer and the dryer itself.

  • Do not overload the dryer.

  • Do not leave the home with the dryer operating. Do not operate the dryer while you are sleeping.

  • Install a smoke detector in the dryer area. If you have a gas dryer, also install a carbon monoxide detector.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the laundry area.

Warning Signs of Excessive Lint Buildup

  • Clothes taking longer to dry than normal and the drying time keeps increasing.

  • Clothes do not get fully dry.

  • Clothes feel hotter than normal after the dryer completes drying.

  • The exterior of the dryer feels very hot to the touch.

  • The area around the dryer is more humid than usual.

  • There is a burnt smell around the dryer.

  • The exterior vent flapper does not open fully. This may indicate marginal air flow due to an obstruction.

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