About a week ago, a friend of mine had a scary fire in her home, which came from the dryer in her laundry room. While there is significant damage done to the home, my friend reacted quickly which minimized the damage and everyone in the family was safe.
Dryer fires have always frightened me, as a college friend had once told me the story of losing her childhood home in a similar event. Fire spreads incredibly quickly, and in her case there was no one at home to minimize the damage. Learning how to prevent a dryer fire can save damage – and lives.
In fact, it was only weeks ago when my incessant nagging finally got my husband to clean the outside vents. Not only was our wash beginning to dry slower than it had in the past, but the leading cause of dryer and washer fires is failure to clean them. Every year in this country, there are thousands of dryer fires, which lead to hundreds of injuries, several deaths, and millions in property loss.
It is important to remember that while most of the fires occur in the clothes dryer, some occur in the washing machines. And today, so many are sold as combinations that it is vital to remember that both should be properly installed and maintained.
There are precautions that can be taken for trying to prevent dryer fires, so I though it would be helpful to share them here. If my friends’ stories can help to prevent even one more fire from occurring, it sure is worth sharing the information. According to the experts, here are several important tips for how to prevent a dryer fire in your home:
Buying a Dryer
* Look for a dryer that uses a moisture sensor rather than a thermostat to end the auto-dry cycle, as thermostats may allow dryers to run longer than necessary.
* Look for an “Energy Star” certified dryer, as they use 20% less energy to complete a load than conventional models.
* Have your dryer installed by a professional.
* Use rigid or flexible metal venting material to sustain proper air flow and drying time. Flexible dryer ducts made of foil or plastic are problematic because they can sag, trap lint, and let lint build up at low points. Metal ducts don’t sag and are more likely to contain fire if one does start.
* Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted.
* Also make sure that the outdoor vent flap opens when the dryer is on.
* Make sure the right plug and outlet are used, and can handle the intensity of the washer and dryer.
* Read the manufacturers’ instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers. Too often we just throw them in a file or in the garbage without reading them.
* Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, leaves, animals, snow and dirt.
* Do not use the dryer without a lint filter in place.
* Clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry.
* Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
* Don’t overload your dryer.
* Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
* Consider unplugging the washer and dryer when not in use.
* Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can easily burn and spread fire.
* If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.
* Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber, plastic or glass fiber materials.
* Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
* Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable, such as alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Wash those items multiple times to minimize chemicals, and line or air dry.
* Avoid using liquid fabric softener on all-cotton clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour. Flammability tests show that liquid fabric softener accelerated the burning speed of these fabrics.
* Have your dryer serviced regularly by a professional. Gas dryers especially, should be professionally inspected to ensure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
* Clear out dryer vent buildup with a nylon brush regularly.
* Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
* Remember to clean behind and underneath the dryer too.
* Clean dryer lint buildup out of the vent pipe every couple of months.
* Inspect the venting system regularly to ensure it is clear of damage or restrictions. Check often to make sure no nests are blocking the outside vent. Insects and small animals often like to make a home there.
* Wipe the sensor with a soft cloth or cotton ball to keep it functioning accurately. (The expert site suggested using a touch of rubbing alcohol, but I prefer white vinegar.) Sensors two curved metallic strips that are usually located on the inside of the dryer, beneath the door opening.
Keeping your washer and dryer in good working order is more important than many people realize. Know how to prevent a dryer fire. It may just prevent a tragedy in your home.
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