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Dryer Fire Prevention Tips: Dos and Don'Ts

Fire Damage
Author: ServiceMaster Restore

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 dryer fires are reported each year. These fires lead to a staggering national average of 35 million dollars in property damage, 100 injuries and 5 fatalities annually. With so much at risk, it's important that you understand what causes dryer fires and how you can prevent them from happening in your own home. To protect yourself, your family and your house, read the dryer dos and don'ts from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore®.

DO: CLEAN THE LINT FILTER

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 percent 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 risk of fire. A clean lint filter allows the dryer to run more efficiently, too, thus drying your clothes faster while also preventing your machine from overheating.

DON'T: DRY CLOTHES WITHOUT THE LINT FILTER

A dryer without its lint trap is an accident waiting to happen. The filter protects the dryer's inner workings from collecting lint. Without this defensive shield, a buildup of lint in the ducts can easily lead to a dryer vent fire.

To lower your risk, always use your dryer with the lint trap in place. In the event that your existing lint trap is worn or develops any holes, replace it immediately at your nearest home supplies store.

DO: INSPECT THE DUCTS REGULARLY

Blocked ducts frequently cause dryer fires. To ensure your dryer is running properly, check your ducts about once a month to ensure there are 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 be occurring 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, simply disconnect them, remove the blockages and reconnect it. If you notice any damage to the venting system, call in a professional to repair the issue.

DON'T: OVERLOAD THE DRYER

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 aren't overstuffing it.

DO: REPLACE OUTDATED DUCTS

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 your risk of fire. To keep your home safe, replace your older models with new ducts designed with heavy-duty metal.

DON'T: LEAVE THE DRYER RUNNING UNATTENDED

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 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 as quickly as possible. 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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