Upwards of 17,000 fires annually are caused by washers and dryers. More than 90% of these are dryer related. With a few simple steps, you can minimize and avoid dryer fire danger. Keep an ABC fire extinguisher in the laundry room and make sure it is operational.
When installing a new dryer, always replace the existing vent hose. The new one should be flexible or ridged metal only! Replace plastic ones immediately as these are a fire hazard. Dryer vents should always vent to the outside, not to a garage, attic, or crawl space. The moisture from the vents can cause mold. Make sure the vent is free of obstruction like bushes, birds’ nests, or snow. Place a metal screen over the opening to keep critters out. With gas dryers, there is a potential for carbon monoxide danger. Install a detector near the dryer and make sure to use good venting. Don’t install your dryer too close to the wall, the hose should have enough room to bend without kinking.
Dryers need good air flow to operate efficiently and safely. Leave laundry room doors open and make sure there are no obstructions in front of or beneath the dryer. Don’t store any combustible materials near the dryer. This includes paper products, solvents, paint, or gas. Be careful with laundry spot removers too! Don’t store these on top of or above the dryer.
Clean the lint screen before every use. If you use dryer sheets, wash monthly with liquid soap and a toothbrush. They leave a film that impedes air flow. You can’t really see it but run the screen under a running faucet. If the water is not flowing freely, it’s clogged. Check all clothing pockets for paper or tissues. These will shred and can get past the filter. They collect under the drum and pose a great fire hazard. It’s a good idea to have the dryer periodically checked by an appliance professional to clear out any debris from under the drum. It’s also an easy job for a handy person.
Lastly, only operate the dryer when you are home and awake! If there is a fire, it’s always better to have someone there to use that extinguisher.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO