Clothes Dryer Fire Prevention
Very few people realize the importance of clothes dryer fire prevention. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated annual 15,500 fires, 20 deaths and 300 injuries due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning from improper dryer vent setups. The financial costs come to nearly $100,000,000 per year. In some cases faulty appliances are to blame, but many fires can be prevented with proper dryer venting.
How a Clothes Dryer Fire Occurs
Lint accumulation and reduced airflow feed on each other to provide conditions ripe for a fire. Lint is a highly combustible material, which, interestingly enough, is one of the ingredients in a recipe for home-made fire starters. A number of dryer vent problems contribute to this.
A growing problem
Traditionally, most clothes dryers were in the basement. However, nowadays many newer homes tend to have dryers located away from an outside wall in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and hall closets. These new locations mean dryers tend to be vented longer distances and vents are generally installed with sharp turns and bends to accommodate the structure of the home. As a result, dryer vents are harder to reach, and also create more places for lint to gather. The ideal solution is to have short, straight, dryer duct venting. However, a dryer vent booster, while not the ideal approach, can improve your dryer venting in cases where your venting is longer and/or has more bends than it should. In addition to creating a fire hazard, if the venting is too long and/or has two many bends, it will cause your dryer to take much longer than necessary to dry loads.
A clean exhaust duct prevents heat, moisture and, in the case of gas clothes dryers, carbon monoxide from being trapped in your home. When this type of spillage occurs, energy, natural resources and time are all wasted because your appliance works too hard and runs longer than necessary.
Wear on Your Clothes Dryer
If your dryer takes twice as long to dry clothes as it should, the number of loads that it will dry in its lifetime is cut in half. When the dryer runs at higher than designed temperatures, the life of your clothes dryer decreases even more. This can lead to the heating element burning out or a fire could ignite as a result of overworked safety controls.
What Causes Clothes Dryer Fires?
Clothes dryers must vent hot air from the dryer to the outside of the house. Lint becomes detached from the clothes and is carried out through the exhaust.
If lint builds up in the exhaust pipe or inside the dryer, it slows the air movement through the dryer and out the exhaust. The slower air movement causes more lint to collect on the backside of the dryer drum, on the dryer motor, or on the electrical connections inside the dryer, placing the highly combustible lint on top of and adjacent to heat sources inside the dryer.
Apartment fire triggered by clogged dryer vent leaves Bath residents homeless
A fire that started late Monday, January 16, 2012, in a dryer vent destroyed this apartment at 20D Windjammer Way in Bath and caused significant damage to the adjoining apartments. A propane tank on a gas grill, shown in the foreground, added to the severity of the blaze.
By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 17, 2012, at 2:20 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 17, 2012, at 6:15 p.m
BATH, Maine — A dryer vent clogged with lint triggered a fire Monday night that has left the occupants of three apartments in Bath without a home.
Bath Fire Chief Steve Hinds said one of the occupants, who called 911 before evacuating his neighbors from the building, “did everything right” and likely minimized the damage to more apartments and possibly prevented injuries.
The lone resident at 20D Windjammer Way noticed flames out his back window after hearing snapping and crackling noises at about 11:30 p.m. Monday, said Hinds. By the time fire crews arrived, the flames had reached the building’s roof structure. The man’s apartment was gutted by flames.
“There’s not much left of that unit inside,” said Hinds. “There’s nothing to salvage there. There was fire everywhere.”
The scene of the fire is part of a large housing development called Maritime Apartments.
There was also heavy damage to the adjoining apartments at 20C and 20E Windjammer Way, particularly on the second story and attic spaces. Hinds said it’s possible that the residents of 20A and 20B Windjammer Way will be able to return to their homes once electricity to those units is separated from the rest and turned back on.
Hinds said the fire started in a dryer vent in a laundry and utility room that is shared by the residents of the five-unit apartment block. Compounding the fire was a propane grill outside. The relief valve on the grill’s tank let go because of the intense heat and shot flames against the building. Read more about this fire..........