Fire Safety: Tips for Clothes Dryer Maintenance and Use | DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog

Clothes dryers contribute to approximately 15,600 house fires, 400 injuries and 15 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Failure to clean lint from those dryers is a leading cause of fires.  Improper installation and maintenance are also common contributing factors.  Clothes dryers force hot air through a revolving drum to dry clothes.  The lint that accumulates during this drying process is mostly caught in a filter trap, but some also accumulates in both the dryer and the dryer vent.  This accumulation of debris reduces airflow through the machine, raises temperature levels, and provides a highly flammable source of fuel for a residential fire.  The USFA offers the following tips to prevent dryer fires in your home:

  • “Never put synthetic materials such as rubber, plastic, foam, or pieces of cloth that have been used to sponge up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if previously washed.
  • Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer regularly.
  • Inspect your lint filter for rips each time you use it. If you see any rips, replace immediately.
  • The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends to allow for adequate airflow.
  • The American Household Appliance Manufacturers Association (AHAM) recommends the use of UL- approved rigid aluminum or steel duct or spiral-wound aluminum flex hose, NOT white vinyl hose.
  • Never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or asleep.
  • Have gas-powered dryers inspected by a professional annually”

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