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Dryer Fire Prevention Tips: Dos and Don'Ts

Fire Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

Clothes dryer fires are more common than you might think. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), dryers and washing machines cause an average of 15,970 fires yearly, with dryers causing 92% and an average of $200 million in property damage. With so much at risk, you must understand what causes dryer fires and how to prevent them from happening in your home. To protect yourself, your family, and your house, read these dryer dos and don'ts from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore.


A clogged lint filter is the leading contributing factor in residential dryer fires. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that failing to clean out the lint trap causes 34% of reported dryer fires every year.Each time you unload the dryer, clean out the lint trap. Before putting the next load of clothes in, double-check that the lint trap is completely clean to lower your fire risk. A clean lint filter also allows the dryer to run more efficiently, thus drying your clothes faster and preventing your machine from overheating.


A dryer without its lint trap is an accident waiting to happen. The filter protects the dryer's inner workings from collecting lint. Lint buildup in the ducts can easily lead to a dryer vent fire without this defensive shield.Always use your dryer with the lint trap in place to lower your risk. If your existing lint trap is worn or develops any holes, replace it immediately at your nearest home supplies store.


Blocked ducts frequently cause dryer fires. To ensure your dryer is running correctly, check your ducts about once a month to ensure no blockages. Some telltale signs that your ducts are clogged include the following indicators:

  • Your laundry is taking longer to dry
  • Exhaust air is failing to exit the vent
  • You suspect that your machine is overheating

Sometimes, a blockage occurs because the venting system itself is damaged. Other times, blockages may occur because of an accumulation of lint, animals building nests in the vents, or snow building up over the outside vents. If you notice any blockages, clean them out before using your dryer again. To clean your ducts, disconnect them, remove the blockages, and reconnect them. If you notice any damage to the venting system, call in a professional to repair the issue.


Stuffing too many wet clothes or bedding into a dryer can cause an excess of lint to accumulate. Since lint buildup reduces a dryer's ability to ventilate, the machine may quickly overheat and cause a fire to break out. Read your owner's manual to determine your machine's maximum hold to ensure you stay within its bounds.


Older ducts made of plastic or foil are prone to sagging. These accordion-style ducts can easily trap lint in hard-to-reach spaces, increasing fire risk. To keep your home safe, replace your older models with new vents designed with heavy-duty metal.


Never go to sleep or leave the house while your dryer is running. If a fire breaks out, your ability to extinguish it or call emergency services right away can make all the difference between damage to your laundry room and the entire loss of your home.

Despite our best efforts as homeowners, accidents still happen. If your home has been damaged by fire and smoke, call ServiceMaster Restore. Our residential fire and smoke damage removal services can help get your life back to normal quickly. With the proper training, innovative equipment, and helpful guidance, our expert technicians will be with you every step of the way to get you back on your feet.

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