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Preventing Dryer Fires

Updated on November 30, 2016

Did you know that a load of clothing, even after going through the spin cycle, still holds a half gallon water, which is what creates lint? Do you also know that fires due to a dryer vent cause just over 15,000 home fires annually?

Bottom line –Despite the water left in the clothes, the dryer is the number one source of home fires and the fire typically starts in the dryer venting and the lint trap.

No one wants to be the victim of a fire, and yet many people give little to no thought about the maintaining and care of the dryer vents and corresponding duct work. Many think that as long as they merely empty the lint trap from time to time that they are doing all that is necessary. Then when the following issues develop, they are scratching their heads trying to figure out what is wrong:

  • The clothes are taking too long to dry; in fact they are taking several restarts or more minutes than once required for loads of the same size.
  • The clothes don’t dry completely.
  • At the end of the drying cycle, clothes are extremely hot.
  • The outside exhaust vent flapper does not open very often. This is an indicator of low exhaust velocity (i.e. not as much airflow in the ductwork).
  • The laundry room is more humid than normal
  • There is a burnt smell in the laundry area, especially when the dryer is in use.
  • Large amounts of lint accumulate in the lint trap during operation.
  • A visible sign of lint and debris is around the lint filter.
  • It has been more than a year since the last time the filter and duct work was cleaned.
  • Excessive odor is noticed from dryer sheets. (Side note – dryer sheets are bad for the dryer as they cause buildup on the venting and ductwork, which in turn causes lint to build more easily.)

Each of these problems will lead to larger ones if ignored. So, rather than waiting for there to be a problem, be sure to clean out the lint tray after every load of laundry and take 20 to 30 minutes a couple of times a year to clean out the ductwork. You can also minimize the risk by implementing the following:

  • When possible, hang clothing heavy bedding, pillows and other large articles outside to line dry.
  • Perform minimal cleaning services on the dryer vent by using a shop vacuum to remove debris around the outside of dryer vents. Do this by vacuuming out the dryer around the lint trap, and periodically removing the back of the dryer to vacuum out lint trapped there, as well.
  • Only operate clothing dryers for intervals of 30 to 40 minutes per batch of laundry.

Don’t be a part of the problem. Take steps now to minimize the risk of a dryer vent fire. Talk to a local ductwork specialist or dryer cleaning specialist today.

Many websites provide additional information on the topic of dryer vent cleaning. One such site worth visiting is

Janet Slagell independently authors articles for, Inc. for search engine marketing. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those solely of the author, and not of any other person, company or organization. No guarantee or warranty, express or implied, is made regarding the accuracy, fitness, or use of the content herein.


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