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Preventing Fires that Start In Your Clothes Dryer

Updated: Jun 11

The thought of a dryer fire destroying all of your possessions is frightening. Yet, this is a reality for thousands annually, including many in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. These fires, often caused by issues like clogged dryer vents and lint buildup, are preventable, making the damage particularly tragic and unnecessary. In this discussion, we will explore how these fires start and provide guidance on how you can prevent a dryer fire in your home.

Are dryer fires common?

According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryer fires occur more frequently than many people might expect. Here are some important statistics:

  1. Between 2010 and 2014, laundry appliances were responsible for an average of 15,790 home fires each year.

  2. Annually, dryer and washing machine fires result in 13 deaths, 444 injuries, and approximately $238 million in property damage.

  3. A significant 92 percent of laundry appliance fires originate from dryers.

  4. The most common materials igniting in dryer fires include dust, fiber, lint, and clothing.

  5. Excess lint and fibers were identified as the cause of 26 percent of these dryer fires.

How Dryer Fires Start

The statistics highlight how critical dryer lint is in the ignition of numerous fires. Regularly cleaning your dryer's lint filter is a crucial step toward enhancing fire safety. Lint is highly combustible and often ignites when it comes into contact with the hot components of an appliance. Lint accumulation inside the dryer vent is a common initiation point for many home fires. This vent often has multiple bends and turns where lint can gather. A single overheated component can be enough to set this material ablaze. Frequently, a malfunctioning heating element, which can overheat due to a defective temperature sensor, is the culprit. Additionally, placing the dryer too close to a wall or using inadequate duct extenders made of thin foil or plastic can also lead to dryer fires.

How to Prevent a Dryer Fire

Preventing a dryer fire can be straightforward, starting with consistently cleaning the lint filter after every load. This material ignites easily, providing the perfect fuel for a spark or intense heat to set off a fire in your home.

Additional measures to prevent a dryer fire include:

  1. Scheduling professional dryer vent cleaning and inspections every 3 to 5 years to ensure vents are clear of obstructions and lint buildup.

  2. Keeping a five-pound ABC fire extinguisher accessible near your laundry appliances for emergency use.

  3. Having your professional dryer vent cleaning service evaluate the vent's location and size to confirm they meet safety standards.

  4. Monitoring your dryer's performance to catch any unusual functioning early.

  5. Avoiding running the dryer while you are asleep or away from home to prevent fires when you're not able to respond quickly.

  6. Contacting your dryer vent cleaning service if you observe any signs of nesting birds or rodents in your vents, as their materials can block vents and pose fire risks.

Putting Out a Dryer Fire

Putting out a dryer fire is made easier when you keep a five pound ABC fire extinguisher within reach of the appliance or laundry room. You also need to have a well-planned and practiced evacuation plan, should a fire begin. You should never risk your safety by putting out a fire. Always dial 911 for your local emergency services to respond from the closest Dallas or Fort Worth area fire department. If you know you can contain the flames, there are six steps you should follow. If you do not feel confident in your ability to follow these six steps, leave your home immediately to concentrate on calling the fire department for help.

Six steps to putting out a dryer fire include:

  1. Know the early signs of a dryer fire.

    1. These signs include popping noises, extreme heat around your dryer or a burning odor.

  2. Leave the dryer door closed.

    1. Trying to open the door can cause burns on your body, while also feeding the fire with oxygen. Besides burns, you risk CO2 exposure and breathing in toxic fumes.

  3. Put the fire out.

    1. Extinguish the flames using an ABC extinguisher. Use the PASS technique:

    2. P - Pull the pin using a firm motion

    3. A - Aim the extinguisher low at the fire's base

    4. S - Squeeze the lever firmly

    5. S - Using a sweeping and spraying motion from side to side at the base of the fire

  4. Unplug your dryer after putting out a dryer fire.

    1. By unplugging the appliance after putting out a dryer fire, you can help prevent reignition. But only do this if you do not see damage around the connections.

  5. Safely exit your laundry room.

    1. After putting out a dryer fire, safely exit the room. Ensure you close the door behind you, as doing so can contain fire if it starts again.

  6. Make safety your biggest priority.

    1. Before installing a new dryer or using your laundry appliances after putting out a dryer fire, call in some experts for inspection. Start with your licensed electrician who can inspect your electrical system. Also have your professional dryer vent cleaning service clean the dryer vents and check all of these connections for safety. In the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex area, Superior Dryer Vent Cleaning provides the services you need to prevent dryer fires and keep your dryer in safe working order. Call us to schedule your twice-yearly dryer vent cleaning at (214)494-9740.

Read more about dryer fires and dryer vent best practices:

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