Dedicated and Driven for those we serve ~ that is the mission of Estero Fire Rescue. Part of that service is to provide the public with life saving lessons that they can do themselves to lessen the danger to their family. Your home should be a safe haven. But when was the last time that you checked your home for fire hazards? It only takes a few minutes but the results could be life saving!
Take time to regularly check your home for hazards to make sure that fire doesn’t stand a chance in your home by checking items that, with a little extra caution, can prevent the leading causes of home fires – cooking, heating, electrical and smoking-materials – is within their power.
However, many people over look a common cause of household fires ~ clothes dryers. Homeowners are often puzzled about why their clothes dryer takes longer to finish a load than it used to. The answer is usually a simple one, but it has some pretty serious implications.
A build-up of lint in the dryer or its vent pipe can not only reduce the efficiency of the dryer but it can also be a fire hazard. The Consumer Products Safety Commission found that, in a single year, over 15,000 fires were attributed to the buildup of lint in dryers or their exhaust vents.
This build-up reduces airflow, causing the dryer to work harder and heat up excessively, which can lead to a fire. There are two things you can do to stop this build-up.
- First, clean out your dryer’s vent pipe periodically, there are brushes designed specifically for this job.
- Second, clear the dryer’s lint screen every time you use it. These two simple steps will help your dryer should run more safely and more efficiently
Here are some basic tips to prevent dryer fires from the Consumer Products Safety Commission, the American Household Appliance Manufacturers Association and Estero Fire Rescue:
- Don’t leave the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher running overnight or while you are out. They are a fire risk because of their high wattage, friction and motors.
- Turn the Dryer off when leaving home;
- Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter;
- Clean lint filters before or after each use and remove accumulated lint from around the drum;
- Make sure that the dryer is plugged into an outlet suitable for its electrical needs as overloaded electrical outlets can result in blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers;
- Keep the dryer area clear of combustibles (i.e., boxes or clothing).
- Dryers should be installed and serviced by a professional.
- Have gas-powered dryers inspected by a professional regularly to ensure that the gas line and connection are intact;
- Inspect your lint filter for rips each time you pull it out, if you see any replace it immediately;
- Never put synthetic materials … such as rubber, foam, or plastic in the dryer.
- Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe once a year;
- Inspect & clean rear of the dryer annually;
- The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible & have limited bends to allow adequate airflow.
Tumble dryer safety
- Remove the lint from the trap after every load of clothes dried
- Do not cover the vent or any other opening
- Ensure the vent pipe is free of kinks and is not crushed in any way
- Only used recommended vent pipes, and not improvised ones. The AHAM recommends the use of UL approved rigid aluminum or steel duct or spiral-wound aluminum flex hose, NOT white vinyl hose;
- Only vent the warm air to the outside of a building
- Do not put rags or materials into your tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids.
Tell-tale signs that your tumble dryer is not properly ventilated
- Clothes take a very long time to dry, especially heavy articles of clothing such as towels or jeans
- Clothes feel hotter than usual at the end of the cycle
- The flapper on the vent hood remains closed when the dryer is on
If you have any questions on this or any other topics, contact Susan Lindenmuth, Public Relations Manager at (239) 390-8000.