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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Home Dryer Maintenance

According to the National Fire Protection Association, washers and dryers were involved in 1 of every 22 home structure fires reported to US fire departments in 2006-2010.  They go on to report that of the estimated 16,800 reported US home structure fires involving washers or dryers, clothes dryers accounted for 92% of the fires.  Here’s the one we wanted to emphasize: the leading cause --- failure to clean.

Mike Taylor, Managing Partner of A Cleaner World – Roanoke, recently told me that around 10% of the fire restoration jobs he handles are related to home dryer fires.  “What usually happens is that the trapped lint will catch fire,” he explained. “With the ones we’ve dealt with recently, the fire has been contained to the laundry room area.  But it creates a smoldering sooty mess that floats throughout the house.  It settles on drapes, bedspreads, furniture, and sometimes gets into closets.”

Since getting into the fire restoration business some 10 years ago, Mike has been more diligent about simple home maintenance like properly cleaning his home dryer.  Here’s what he does at his home, and he recommends that everyone follow these tips:

• Clean the dryer lint screen after each load.
• Routinely clean the vent exhaust from your dryer.  Pull the dryer out, detach the hose and use a shop-vac to vacuum the lint out of the tube as well as from the back of your dryer.  Go outside and remove any built up lint from the exterior vent.  (A good way to make sure there isn’t a clog is to go outside to the exterior vent when the dryer is running to make sure there is plenty of air coming out.  If not, odds are there is a buildup of lint.)
• Never leave your dryer running while you are gone.
• Install a smoke detector in or near your laundry room.

“Cleaning the vent exhaust is one of those jobs that tends to get put off,” said Mike.  I admit that we don’t give it the attention it deserves.  But the nice thing about sharing this sort of information is that it is a good reminder to me.  I am going to clean my dryer vent right now.  For more information about caring for your home dryer, check out our Helpful Hints section.

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