Can a Fire Start in a Dryer Vent? - An Expert's Perspective

If you let it build up in the dryer vent over time, you could be facing some serious problems. Clogged dryer vents can become a fire hazard due to the heat of the dryer causing lint to burn, potentially setting fire to the dryer and parts of the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than a third of fires are attributed to a lack of routine cleaning and maintenance. This means that many of these fires can be prevented. The most common cause of dryer fires is inadequate cleaning.

Lint collectors are not foolproof, and lint can gradually accumulate and catch fire in the heating element or in the exhaust duct. To reduce the risk of fire and maintain the efficiency of the dryer, it is recommended to use a non-flammable cleaner, such as water, when cleaning the dryer vent. If you're still having problems, you can also contact a maintenance professional to check for excess lint in the dryer vent pipe. Typically, dryers are equipped with a 4-inch ventilation grille at the rear, which homeowners or installers connect to outdoor ventilation using a duct. It is also important to make sure that the outside ventilation is clear.

If your dryer catches fire when you're not at home, it can set it on fire and cause tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage instead of simply needing a new dryer. If you want to extend the life of your dryer, you should clean it regularly. Consult an expert or consult your clothes dryer manual if you're not sure how long the dryer can handle. Approximately 27% of these fires are due to the build-up of lint, which means that not cleaning the dryer vent can result in a dangerous situation that is much more serious than the decline in performance caused by constriction of the dryer ducts. According to the NFPA, all dryer manufacturers clearly indicate in their manuals that they should not use plastic or flexible ducts between the ventilation grille and the clothes dryer. If you notice that the dryer takes longer to dry your clothes than before, it's a sign that there may be a blockage in the dryer's ventilation system. Stevens said his dryer was from the late 80s or early 90s and, although he cleaned the lint collector frequently and the ventilation grille from time to time, he never knew that lint could accumulate inside the dryer.

After examining and recreating the fire scene, returning the dryer and other items inside, it was discovered that the landlord had rolled up an eight-foot by ten-foot floor rug and placed it behind the dryer for storage. Dryer lint is a combination of hair and fabric particles that accumulate in the dryer's exhaust opening. To prevent fires from starting in your clothes dryers, it is important to clean them regularly. Make sure that all lint collectors are emptied after each use and that any excess lint is removed from around the exhaust grille. Additionally, check for any blockages in your outside ventilation system and make sure that plastic or flexible ducts are not used between your ventilation grille and your clothes dryer.

Finally, if you notice that your clothes are taking longer than usual to dry, contact an expert for help.

Tom Ferraiz
Tom Ferraiz

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