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Here’s A Fire Hazard You’ve Probably Never Thought About

Here's A Fire Hazard You've Probably Never Thought AboutWhen most people think of a home fire hazard, they don’t think about lint. However, dryer fires fueled by lint happen about 3,000 times every year. Deaths occur and property damage totals about $35 million from this single cause. Lint occurs as most any wet fabric is heated and dried in a dryer. These tiny dust-like fibers are very flammable and under the right conditions may ignite easily.

Most dryers have a lint screen to filter out lint and incorporate a vent duct to exhaust hot air outside the house. Here’s the chain of events that turns a common household dryer into a fire hazard:

  • If the lint filter becomes clogged, a residue of lint will begin to accumulate inside the dryer. Eventually, it may contact surfaces hot enough to ignite, such as the dryer heating element, resulting in a hot dryer fire.
  • The vent duct may also pose a fire hazard. A duct pipe that is long with many angles and bends may accumulate lint inside. A fire that is sparked in the drier quickly expands into the duct pipe. Because the vent duct is routed through walls and ceiling, the fire may spread to the house.

Dryer fires can be prevented by taking a few precautions:

  • Always clean the dryer lint filter before use.
  • The vent duct should be as short as possible with a minimum number of bends that accumulate lint.
  • A drier vent should be made of metal rated for venting heat, similar to a furnace vent duct. Flexible plastic vents are not a safe choice as they may melt in case of fire and/or they are easily crushed and may obstruct flow of hot air, causing the dryer to overheat.
  • The dryer vent should be inspected annually and lint accumulation should be removed. Using specialized equipment, a service person can clean the entire length of the vent duct. Also the dryer safety cut-off switch should be tested for proper operation.

Ask the experts at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company for more information about eliminating the household fire hazard caused by lint accumulation the clothes dryer.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about fire hazards and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 928-723-3183.

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