According to a government report released in 2012, approximately 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to US fire departments every year. These fires cost an estimated $35 million in property losses.
The US Fire Administration (USFA) report stated that 84 percent of clothes dryer fires happened in residential buildings. The report also found the following:
· Clothes dryer fire incidents in residential buildings are higher in the fall and winter months.
· The leading factor contributing to the ignition of clothes dryer fires was failure to clean the lint out of the screen and ducts at 34 percent.
· The leading items first ignited in dryer fires were dust, fiber, and lint at 28 percent, and clothing not worn by a person at 27 percent.
· Clothes dryer fires were confined to the object of origin at 54 percent.
Clothes dryer fires can occur when clothes dryers are not installed or maintained properly. Another contributing factor is lint, which is a highly combustible material and can accumulate both in the dryer and in the dryer vent. When foam backed rugs or athletic shoes are placed in dryers, reduced airflow can occur also leading to an ignition. Another hazard is a vent that won’t exhaust properly: this can be caused by birds or other small animals nesting in dryer exhaust vents.
How to prevent clothes dryer fires
· Clean your lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of close. If your clothes is still damp at the end of the typical drying cycle or drying takes longer than normal, this could be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked.
· Clean your dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically. Check your outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it’s not, it’s possible the vent or the exhaust duct are blocked. You may have to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer in order to remove any blockage in the exhaust path. Remember to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent before you use it again.
· Clean behind your dryer, where lint builds up. Hire a qualified service person to clean the interior of the dryer chassis periodically to minimize the amount of lint accumulation. Keep the area around your dryer clean and free of clutter.
· Be extra careful when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals, such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. Wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of volatile chemical. It’s recommended that you hang the clothes to dry instead of drying them. However, if you choose to use a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. To prevent clothes from igniting after you dry them, don’t leave them in the dryer or laundry basket near the dryer.
· Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. The majority of manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which allows for maximum airflow. The flexible plastic or foil type duct trap lint, and are more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which greatly reduces airflow.