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10 Important Dryer Vent Safety Tips

Did you know dryers are one of the leading causes of home fires? Every year, there are more than 15,000 dryer fires across the United States. Most dryer fires are caused by failure in cleaning dryer vent ductwork. Dryer vent is highly flammable and it's even used as tinder to start camp fires. If the lint in your dryer duct is ignited, it can quickly carry the fire throughout your home.

1. Check Your Outside Dryer Vent

When your dryer is running, check the outside dryer exhaust vent to make sure hot air is escaping as it should. If you do not feel any air movement, it probably means there is a build-up of lint clogging the outlet. In this case, cleaning dryer vent ductwork is recommended.

2. Clean Your Lint Trap

Lint is the most common source of dryer fires. Lint collects inside the dryer cavity near the heating elements where temperatures can reach 550 degrees. Always clean your lint screen before and after every load of laundry. This is the easiest way to reduce the risk of a dryer fire and it takes very little time. You should also wipe down the inside of the dryer to get rid of any extra lint that the screen does not catch. Never run your dryer without the lint trap in place because this will remove the defense against lint building up in more dangerous areas such as the duct or inside the dryer housing.

3. Check Around the Dryer

It isn't enough to clean lint from the lint trap and dryer vent; it can also accumulate behind and under the dryer itself. The heat from your dryer while it's running can ignite the lint hidden around the dryer. Make sure the area around your dryer is free of lint and clutter.

4. Understand Fire Safety Codes

When your dryer is installed or replaced, it's a good idea to be aware of local fire safety codes to make sure they're followed. The dryer vent should have a diameter of at least 4 inches and as large as the dryer outlet. The exhaust duct coming from your dryer should be a maximum of 25 feet. The shorter the dryer exhaust duct, the lower the risk of fire. The vent should also exhaust outdoors. Surprisingly, many homeowners learn that their dryers vent into an attic, crawl space, or even empty space in the walls instead of outdoors. The fittings should also be secure to keep the exhaust from seeping back into the home.

5. Keep a Working Fire Extinguisher Nearby

A fire extinguisher is always a safe addition to your home. Along with adding an extinguisher to your kitchen, it's a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in your laundry room for dryer vent safety. If your dryer or vent catch fire, a working fire extinguisher can stop the fire before it spreads.

6. Don't Leave the House with the Dryer Running

Just as you wouldn't leave your home with your oven on, always plan to be home when the dryer is running. Dryers and ovens are the leading causes of appliance-related home fires, and they should never be used without supervision.

7. Use Metal Dryer Ductwork

If you have an accordion-style dryer duct, it should be replaced immediately. Flexible or rigid metal ductwork is best because it can sustain proper airflow. Accordion-style ducts trap lint and develop clogs much easier. These outdated ducts are also prone to getting crushed or damaged, even during normal dryer operation.

8. Move Flammable Items

Make sure you keep the area around your dryer free of any flammables. Along with lint and dust under and around the appliance, this can also include baskets of clothing, cleaning products, and paint.

9. Don't Put Clothes With Flammable Materials in the Dryer

Never put anything in your dryer after it comes in contact with flammable materials like cooking oil or gas. These items can be safely laundered in your washer, but they should never go into the dryer if you can still smell a fuel aroma. Excessive heat in the dryer can cause the fabric to actually ignite. You should also avoid putting anything in your dryer with plastic or rubber. This includes bathroom mats. When plastic or rubber backing gets too hot, it can crack and melt, damaging your dryer and potentially causing a fire.

10. Schedule Regular Dryer Vent Cleaning

Your dryer vent requires regular cleaning to remove any blockages that may develop. As lint builds up in the duct inside your wall, it reduces airflow which can cause overheating and a fire. Professional dryer duct cleaning is an affordable and effective way to keep your dryer working efficiently while dramatically reducing your risk of a house fire.

Remember: cleaning out your lint trap every time you use your dryer isn't enough to prevent a build-up of lint in your duct that can spark a fire. Want to protect your home and even reduce your energy costs? HomeSafe can help. HomeSafe has been repairing, cleaning, and installing dryer vents in the North Texas area since 2009. Contact HomeSafe Dryer Vent Cleaning today for cost-effective professional dryer vent cleaning.

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