Remember Smoky the Bear (Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires)? Well, the same thing is true for dryer fires. You can prevent them. All it takes is being conscientious about keeping the filters and vent clear of lint build-up.
Dryer fires happen frequently. Usually the problem is built-up lint in the vent or built-up lint and other debris under and around the dryer. Insurance professionals (and fire fighters) say that dryer fires are both expensive and dangerous.
So why don’t we all take better care of our dryers? Maybe we are just in too much of a hurry to get the dry clothes out and move on with our day. Maybe such an inconsequential thing as lint doesn’t seem dangerous. But it is worth dealing with that lint before it becomes tinder for a fire.
Dryer lint is that fluffy blanket that forms on the dryer lint filter. If your mom taught you to always clean the lint filter after every use (and you do), congratulations! You are half way to dryer safety and a dryer-fires-free future.
The more-overlooked issue is cleaning the dryer vent. For one thing, it’s a bigger job.
You might think that the lint filter is enough to keep the whole system clean. But no, it is not the case. Some lint bypasses the filter and eventually this lint builds up in the vent that exhausts the dryer air outside. If you look at the outside of that vent and see (or feel) lint there, you have lint build-up. Sure, you can pull out what you can reach from the outside, but there is likely to be more stuck inside the vent where it is harder to reach.
Take the hint and do something about it. Want some how-to tips? We happen to have written about exactly this maintenance issue. This is not a terribly difficult home maintenance task. If you don’t want to deal with it yourself, there are home maintenance professionals who can do the job for you. All it takes is your making that appointment.
No one wants to have the scare and expense of a dryer fire. At worst, someone gets hurt. At best, your home is damaged, your possessions perhaps destroyed, and the clean-up repercussions are disruptive. Since folks often turn a dryer on and then leave the house – or go to sleep – a dryer fire could start with no one at hand to notice it.
Dryer fires develop quickly and feed on that readily-combustible lint. There’s a reason that boy scouts make fire-starters out of dryer lint. It burns fast and furious.
If the dryer happens to be in an area where no other combustible items are nearby, the damage might be isolated to just the dryer. Many dryers are in laundry rooms with other combustible items stored nearby. Some dryers are in utility “closets” in living areas. In cases like this, it is more than the dryer itself that is at risk.
So, take the unseen danger of lint build-up seriously enough to get that dryer vent cleaned out on a regular basis. Don’t let indifference burn the house down!
For how-to hints on this and other home maintenance tasks, check out our “How To” category.
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