If you’re reading this and you’re living in the United States, it’s pretty safe to assume that you use a washer and dryer to clean your clothes. If you live in an apartment, you may not own your own washer and dryer, and perhaps if you’re living out in the clean air of Montana or Idaho, you might have the time and space to dry your laundry out on lines, and be one of the country’s 20% who does not have a clothes dryer in their home. It really does make the sheets smell fresh, but not if you live in Los Angeles, New York or any other big city.
What’s our point? The U.S. Consumer Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers occur annually. And if that doesn’t sound too bad, those fires cause on average 10 deaths, 310 injuries and over $84 million in property damage. Annually. Happily, these numbers have dropped since the late 1970s, when there were more than 24,000 fires annually.
How do you prevent the most expensive appliance to run in your home from adding insult to injury and creating a house fire? Use these handy tips below from Consumer Reports:
- Use metal dryer ducts to help prevent dryer fires. Flexible dryer ducts made of foil or plastic are the most problematic because they can sag and let lint build up at low points, plus ridges can also trap lint. Metal ducts, either flexible or solid, are far safer because they don’t sag, so lint is less likely to build up. In addition, if a fire does start, a metal duct is more likely to contain it.
- No matter which kind of duct you have, you should clean it regularly. In addition, remove the visible lint from the lint screen each time you use your dryer. This not only will reduce the risk of a fire, but your clothes will dry faster and your dryer will use less energy. If dryer film is a worry, there is certainly no harm in occasionally cleaning the lint filter with warm soapy water and a small brush.
- Clean inside, behind, and underneath the dryer, where lint can also build up.
- Take special care drying clothes stained with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. Wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of these chemicals on the clothing, and line dry instead of using a dryer.
- Avoid using liquid fabric softener on all-cotton clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour. In Consumer Reports’ flammability tests, liquid fabric softener added to rinse water accelerated the burning speed of these fabrics. If you want a softener, use dryer sheets instead.
- Buy dryers that use moisture sensors rather than ordinary thermostats to end the auto-dry cycle. Thermostats can allow the dryer to run longer than necessary.
- Occasionally wipe the sensor with a soft cloth or cotton ball and rubbing alcohol to keep it functioning accurately. Sensors are usually located on the inside of the dryer, just below the door opening, and can be hard to find. They are usually two curved metallic strips, shaped somewhat like the letter “C”.
If you don’t manage to remember to practice these tips regularly, or it’s too late to prevent a fire from dryer lint, please call us on (877) 732-8471 immediately. We are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you with any and all fire damage restoration. Our technicians have a level of experience and knowledge that is not found in any other Southern California restoration service. Call us now for fast, reliable and quality restoration for your home or business.