Clean out your dryers: Lint responsible for 3,000 house fires in the U.S. every year

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 7:08 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Dryers are safe as long as you perform proper maintenance. By not clearing out the lint, the dryer becomes a fire hazard.

Every year, there are more than 3,000 house fires in the United States caused by dryers. A couple seconds is all it takes to clean out your dryer’s lint trap.

Lint is very combustible. As heat builds in the dryer, with air blowing through the ductwork, it can cause the lint to reach its ignition temperature.

Whitney Weaver, the Assistant Fire Chief for the Nixa Fire Department said, “It’ll just start to light off and smoke and smoulder.”

In most dryer fires he has experienced, the dryer was just smoking. In the worst cases the dryer has caught the entire house on fire.

Lint should be cleared out after every load.

While lint fires are one culprit, washing rags soaked with flammable chemicals is more hazardous.

“Those chemicals that are flammable in there are not water based. The soap may not get rid of them. When you put them in the dryer and build that heat, it will reach the ignition point,” Weaver said.

This can cause a fire. Throw the rags away instead, or let them air dry after washing.

At least once a year the ductwork in your home should be cleaned out.

Keith Ostrander, with Cook’s Appliances, says if you do not do much laundry, then you do not need to clean out your ductwork every year.

“If you have a house full of kids and you’re doing a lot of laundry, you’ll need to do it more often,” Ostrander said.

Ostrander said you should check the air vents on the outside of your house for build-ups. Maintenance will be different for every household.

“Appliances are very safe to use as long as we’re using them the way they’re designed,” Ostrander said.

Dryer Safety Tips:

  • Have your dryer installed and inspected by a professional
  • Do not use dryer without a lint filter
  • Clean out lint filter before every use
  • Use rigid or flexible venting materials to allow for best airflow
  • Clean lint vent at least yearly
  • Clean outdoor vent trap
  • Turn off dryer when sleeping, or leaving your home
  • Keep area around dryer clear of combustible items
  • Do not dry clothes or materials with flammable chemicals
  • Do not overload the dryer
  • Do not clog dryer with dryer sheets. Throw them away after use

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