Most people don’t often think about it but your clothes dryer is the one of the most dangerous appliances in your home. According to FEMA, more than 2,900 dryer fires occur each year, resulting in an average of 5 deaths, 100 injuries and as much as $35 million in property damages. There are things you can do to help prevent a tragic house fire caused by your clothes dryer. Here are the top safety tips you need to know about your dryer.
1. Keep the lint trap clean.
Clean out the lint trap before and after every load of laundry, no exceptions. Household dust and built-up lint are the top cause of dryer fires, accounting for up to 35% of all fires originating from the clothes dryer.
2. Keep the exhaust pipe clear.
The second most common cause for dryer fires are exhaust pipes clogged with lint and dust. Remember that not all lint is removed by your lint trap. Some of that lint escapes through the exhaust pipe. This exhaust line should be cleared out and cleaned at least once per year, or twice if you have a large family and do a lot of laundry.
3. Don’t overload the machine.
Putting in loads of laundry that are larger than the machine’s recommended capacity puts stress on many of the mechanisms that make it work, such as the spindle bearings, pulleys and drum belt. The extra weight of the load causes these mechanisms to work harder than normal and result in unnecessary heat build-up, which can cause your dryer to catch fire.
4. Never run your dryer while sleeping or away from home.
Many people are guilty of this one but it’s important to be awake and aware whenever your clothes dryer is running so you can react immediately in case of a fire. You can’t react immediately and prevent a major fire if you’re asleep or worse, not even home. Always turn your dryer off before sleeping or leaving the house.
5. Keep heat vents in the back clean.
On the back of most dryers, there is a set of heat vents. These vents can collect dust, hair, lint and other debris. It’s important to pull your dryer out twice per year and use a vacuum attachment to clean these heat vents to help prevent a fire.
6. Discontinue using the machine if you notice improper operation.
Some examples of improper operation are if the machine stops repeatedly during a cycle, clothes come out hotter than usual, there is a lack of lint being caught in the lint trap, the top of the dryer is very hot to the touch and clothes take much longer than usual to dry. Have the machine inspected by a certified repair technician before using it again if you notice any of these issues.
For most people, dryer safety is not top of mind. We use the clothes dryer so often that many have forgotten that it can be a dangerous appliance to operate if the machine and connections are not cleaned and maintained properly. These safety tips will help you ensure you are operating your dryer as safely as possible.