The relationship between dryer ventilation and home safety is well-established by recent statistics. On average, over 3,000 fires each year begin in the clothes dryer, causing several deaths per year and more than $40 million in property damage.
How Does It Happen?
Extreme heat combined with flammable lint accumulation can trigger a fire within the dryer itself. Once ignited, lint burns at very high temperature and fire rapidly spreads into the wall of the laundry room, then into the rest of the house. Lint accumulation inside the dryer vent pipe is another fire trigger. Adequate dryer ventilation keeps heat within the unit below the flash point of lint and also ensures that lint fibers entering the vent pipe are exhausted outside of the home.
How Can It Be Prevented?
Develop safe drying habits. Don’t start the dryer then leave the house and don’t dry clothes while you are asleep. In addition, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Always clean the dryer lint trap before drying a load of clothes. A clogged lint trap impairs proper ventilation, causing heat accumulation which could trigger fire.
- Check the vent airflow regularly. Step outside and locate the opening in the exterior wall where the dryer vent pipe terminates. Typically, it is covered by a metal hood. While the dryer is running, feel the flow of air exhausting from the pipe. If you don’t feel a strong airflow, an obstruction is occurring somewhere in the system. Turn off the dryer and call an appliance service provider.
- Make sure your dryer vent pipe meets current safety standards. Flexible plastic pipes common in the past are flammable and no longer approved for dryer use. The Underwriters Laboratories standard for dryer vents requires a metal pipe with smooth internal surfaces not exceeding 25 feet in length. The dryer vent pipe must exhaust into outdoor air, not into the attic or the crawl space.
- Schedule a professional dryer vent cleaning and inspection every other year.
Ask the experts at Aggressive Mechanical for more information about safe dryer ventilation to prevent fires.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).