How to Prevent Dryer Fires

Laundry is a vital part of our routine, so making sure you know how to prevent dryer fires is beneficial to everyone. We use washing machines and dryers for our clothes very regularly – in some cases weekly or even daily depending on the size of your family. But what were to happen if your clothes dryer catches fire? This can cost you thousands of dollars in replacements and repairs, and even your home if you’re away when it catches on fire. It is important to take precaution and have dryer fire safety measures in place.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported 481,500 structure fires in the United States in 2019, down 3.5 percent from 2018. Those fires caused $12.3 billion in property damage in 2019. The average loss for these structure fires was just over $25,000. The best way to prevent these damages, is by having dryer fire safety!

When and How Do Dryer Fires start?

It has been reported that approximately one third of clothes dryer fires occur due lint buildup. With that being said, if you feel that your clothes are taking a longer time to dry than normal, are getting hotter than usual, or are having other similar issues, reach out to a maintenance professional for help! This can potentially save your home and your life by preventing a potential house fire.

However, there are several ways that you can help prevent and avoid dryer fires! Read the list below to find out how you can prevent or even eliminate this kind of fire hazard.

Is a Squeaky Dryer Dangerous?

A squeaky dryer usually indicates that a part of the dryer has worn out and needs to be repaired. This does mean it could be dangerous. You should try to identify where the squeak is coming from, and take the proper steps to prevent any accidents from occurring.

Why is My Dryer Making a Loud Screeching Noise When Turning?

A loud screeching noise coming from your dryer when it’s turning can indicate a mechanical problem. There are a few possible causes for this issue:

  1. Worn Out or Misaligned Dryer Belt: The dryer belt is responsible for rotating the drum. If it becomes worn out, frayed, or misaligned, it can produce a screeching sound. Replacing the belt should resolve the issue.
  2. Worn Drum Rollers or Glides: Dryers have drum rollers or glides that support the drum’s rotation. Over time, these components can wear out or become damaged, leading to noise. Replacing the worn drum rollers or glides can usually solve the problem.
  3. Faulty Motor Bearings: The motor in your dryer has bearings that allow it to operate smoothly. If the bearings become worn or damaged, they can produce a screeching or squealing noise. In this case, the motor may need to be replaced or repaired.
  4. Idler Pulley Issues: The idler pulley keeps tension on the dryer belt. If it becomes worn or faulty, it can create noise. Replacing the idler pulley should fix the problem.
  5. Foreign Objects: Sometimes, small items like coins, buttons, or other debris can get stuck in the drum fins or other parts of the dryer. Check for any foreign objects and remove them if found.

What is Dryer lint?

Dryer lint is a combination of hair and fabric particles that collects in the exhaust opening of your dryer. It is located in the dryer exhaust vent and should be cleaned our regularly. This can cause an extremely dangerous fire if it gets too close to the heating element inside of your dryer.

Can Dryer Lint Start a Fire?

A dryer lint fire can start if the vent is not regularly cleaned It is recommended that you inspect your dryer exhaust vent anytime you are doing a load of laundry to make sure it isn’t overloaded with lint. You should clean out the lint in the exhaust vent every time you do a load of laundry.

Can an Electric Dryer Catch Fire?

Even electric dryers can catch fire. The main cause of electric dryer fires is overheating. If you use your dryer for too long, or if you leave the door open while drying clothes, then you could end up with a fire. Electric dryers catch fire often because they are designed to heat up quickly, so they overheat easily. They also have a fan that sometimes can blow hot air into the room.

Are Gas Dryers More Risk of a Fire?

While electric dryers are far more likely to cause a fire, gas dryers are unique in that they have gas lines. If you have ever used a gas dryer, you know that they are a little different than electric dryers. They don’t just heat up your clothes; they also heat up the air inside the house. Gas dryers are often found in older homes, where the pipes are old and brittle. If one of those pipes breaks, the gas can leak into the home and potentially leave you with a gas dryer fire.

Where are My Dryer Vents located?dryer fire safety

To know where your dryer vents are located, start by looking at the back of your dryer. Dryers have a vent hole near the top left-hand corner on both sides. Typically the dryer vent exits through an external outside wall and enters through an inside wall behind the dryer.

How to Prevent a Dryer Vent Fire

If you suspect there may be a problem with your dryer vent, turn off power to the unit before calling emergency services. Make sure you clean your dryer vent. The National Fire Protection Association recommends using a nonflammable cleaner such as water when cleaning your dryer vent. Never use gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, lighter fluid, matches, torches, candles, or other flammables around your dryer.

Knowing these tips below may help you prevent a common dryer fire. These simple things can help you keep your home safe.

Don’t Use your dryer without the lint filter

Don’t try to use your dryer without the lint filter because this may also cause a fire. Your dryer needs this so that it can work properly. This will ensure each dry cycle will be much less of a fire hazard and will dry your clothes faster and safer. If you don’t clean it out correctly, then that may also become a dryer lint fire starter!

Clean the dryer’s lint trap regularly

Always try to check and clean the lint trap each time before you start your machine. Whenever you feel that your dryer is not working properly or any unusual sound is coming from it, check your lint trap. If you still run into any issues, you could also contact a maintenance professional to check whether you have excess lint in your dryer vent pipe.

Tip: If what you are drying is made from natural fibers, then your dryer lint is compostable!

Don’t Leave your house with the dryer on

If you’re going to be leaving your home with your dryer on, then you should think again. It is important to make sure to turn your dryer off when you are not around. If your dryer catches fire while you’re not home, it can burn your house down and cause tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage instead of simply requiring a new dryer.

Inspect the dryer’s vents and ducts regularly

Try to make a habit of inspecting the metal ducts and dryer vents on a monthly basis to prevent dryer fires. And, if you find any blockages in the ducts and vents, ask an expert to clean them or replace them if they cannot be repaired. Otherwise, you will be at risk of a fire.

It is also important to be familiar with the signs of a clogged dryer vent. These include;

  • Clothes taking longer to dry
  • Check the visible vents inside the dryer and outside the house for dust and lint
  • Dryer is getting hotter than usual, along with your clothes
  • Burning smell – When lint builds up in the dryer vents, a fire could start soon after

Keep Fire Hazards Away

Keep all combustible materials away from your dryer. Keep them stored safely so they don’t get accidentally knocked into the dryer during normal wear and tear.

Don’t Overload your dryer

Don’t overload your dryer. Overloading causes excessive heat which increases the risk of fire. If you overload your dryer with too many items, an excessive amount of lint can build up and can prevent the dryer from properly ventilating. As a heating element, a drying machine can’t ventilate properly when it’s at or above capacity and it may be at a higher risk of causing a fire. Consult an expert or refer to your clothes dryer manual if you’re unsure as to how much your dryer can handle.

How to Put Out a Dryer Fire

If you notice smoke coming from your dryer, popping sounds, or a burning odor coming from your appliance, a fire has likely started. If you think there’s a fire, don’t open the door. Opening the door risks exposure to carbon monoxide and can also burn your hand. Instead call 911 and evacuate the house immediately or if you are positive that you can contain the fire, follow these steps to putting out a clothes dryer fire.

1. Stop the Fire

The first step after a dryer fire is to make sure the fire is completely out before attempting to move anything. Two things that you need in your laundry room for dryer fire safety to stop a dryer fire are:

  • A Fire Extinguisher
  • A Fire Blanket

Make sure not to neglect any flames that may be coming from the back of your unit, or even through its venting out at the rear. When using a fire extinguisher, aim low at the fires base and spray from side to side.

2. Unplug the Dryer

After you extinguish the fire, unplug your dryer, but don’t worry about removing any remaining clothing or other items yet. A professional needs to diagnose your dryer in order to determine the cause of the fire. If you think that the wall outlet connected to your dryer has been damaged, leave it be and wait for professionals to arrive. If available, turn off utilities to that area at their outside source!

3. Exit your Home

As you leave the laundry room, make sure to close the door behind you. This helps contain flames from an outbreak if the fire should reignite.

What to do After a Dryer Fire

Some repairs may be covered by insurance, so check with your homeowner’s insurance company ahead. Keep these helpful tips above in mind as you do your laundry this week! Remember, it’s much cheaper to get dryer maintenance than it is to have a dryer fire. Make sure you know all the recommended steps to take after a fire! Schedule a home inspection today with Jenkins Restorations for further assistance

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do most dryer fires start?

The most common place for a dryer fire to start is in the dryers vents due to lint build up and overheating.

Can a dryer catch fire when off?

A dryer can catch fire while it’s not running if there are any problems in the dryer’s electrical system. This may result in wires and components sparking when the unit has been shut down. Over time, lint buildup may cause heat sensors to get too hot, which could lead them to ignite the material.

Can clothes catch on fire in the dryer?

Yes, clothes can catch on fire in the dryer. This happens when the lint builds up inside the dryer and ignites. The best way to avoid this problem is to check the lint trap regularly for build up. If you find any lint buildup, remove it immediately.

Is a Squeaky Dryer Dangerous?

Though it can be tempting to ignore a dryer that’s squeaking or squealing, most situations where using this machine should pose no problem. Squeaky noises are just one sign of an issue with your parts and repeated use without addressing the problem could cause further damage leading up towards potential fire hazards!

Do electric dryers release carbon monoxide?

No, you cannot get carbon monoxide poison­ing from an electric dryer because there’s no gas involved. Carbon monoxide and its potential for poisoning cannot be produced by any appliance that do not burn gas.

How long do electric dryers usually last?

Electric dryers typically last about 10 years, although some models may last up to 15 years. If you want to extend the life of your dryer, you should clean it regularly, including making sure the outer vent is clear.

Is it Safe to Run a Dryer Empty?

Yes, you can run a dryer without any clothes inside it. An empty clothes dryer requires less energy output and doesn’t pose any extra risks.

How to tell if your dryer is gas or electric

If there’s only one cord attached to the dryer, it’s electric. However, if your dryer has a cord and a thing stainless steel connector, this implies that your dryer is gas.

Can a dryer cause carbon monoxide?

Yes, a dryer can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. A properly working dryer vent system will vent the carbon monoxide outside. However, clogs may prevent the gas from escaping from the building. If there is a buildup of carbon monoxide, it can be very dangerous and can cause illness and even death.

Do tumble dryers catch fire?

Yes, tumble dryers can catch fire. Most tumble dryer fires are due to large buildup of fluff, which can catch fire when near heating elements within the machine.

Can putting dry clothes in the dryer start a fire?

You can put dry clothes in a dryer. It’s a good way to remove the wrinkles out of clothes without a steamer or having to use an ironing board.

How often do dryers catch on fire?

Believe it or not, common household appliances like clothes dryers can cause fires if operated incorrectly. While clothes dryer fires are relatively infrequent, government statistics show that they are the cause of 2,900 home fires in the US every year; these fires result in an estimated 20 million dollars in property damages.

Can you overload a dryer?

Despite what some might say, yes, you can overload a dryer and it brings serious consequences. Overloading a dryer can upset the airflow, leading to possible damage to the drum, motor, and other important parts, along with taking longer to dry clothes.

Has a Dryer Fire Caused Your Home Serious Damage?

Contact Jenkins Restorations today to start the restoration process and get your home back to normal!