The idea of losing everything you own to a dryer fire is scary. But this happens to thousands of people every year, many of whom live right here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex area. There are ways to prevent these household fires, so the damage is both sad and senseless. Below, we look at how these fires begin because of multiple issues like dirty dryer vents and excess lint. We also examine how you can prevent a dryer fire in your own home.
Are dryer fires common?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, dryer fires are more common than most people realize. Some key statistics include:
- An average of 15,790 home fires starting in laundry appliances occurred each year from 2010 to 2014
- Dryer fires and washing machine fires cause 13 deaths, 444 injuries and about $238 million in damage each year
- 92 percent of laundry appliance fires start with the dryer
- Dust, fiber, lint and clothing are the most common items igniting a dryer fire
- Excess lint and fibers caused 26 percent of dryer fires
How Dryer Fires Start
As you can see from the statistics above, dryer lint is a major factor in the starting of these fires. By cleaning your dryer’s lint filter, you are taking a major step toward fire safety. Lint is very combustible. It plays a major part in most fires when the material comes in contact with the appliance’s hot working parts.
Lint builds up inside the dryer vent, being how dryer fires start in many homes. This vent has many turns and bent areas where lint collects. All it takes is one overheated part to ignite this material. A bad heating element is often the reason the lint goes up in flames. The heating element overheats because of issues like a faulty temperature sensor. Positioning the dryer too close to a wall or using duct extenders made of thin foil or plastic are also how dryer fires start.
How to Prevent a Dryer Fire
You can prevent a dryer fire by cleaning out the lint filter between each load of laundry. This highly flammable material ignites quickly and provides exactly what a spark or extreme heat needs to make your house go up in flames.
Other ways to prevent a dryer fire include:
- Professional dryer vent cleaning and dryer vent inspection every 3 to 5 years
- Keeping a five-pound ABC fire extinguisher within reach of your laundry appliances
- Having your professional dryer vent cleaning service check vent location and size for safety
- Paying attention to how your dryer operates
- Not running the dryer while you sleep or when you leave the house
- Contacting your professional dryer vent cleaning service if you notice signs of nesting birds or rodents around your vents
Putting Out a Dryer Fire
Putting out a dryer fire is made easier when you keep a five pound ABC fire extinguisher within reach of the appliance or laundry room. You also need to have a well-planned and practiced evacuation plan, should a fire begin. You should never risk your safety by putting out a fire. Always dial 911 for your local emergency services to respond from the closest Dallas or Fort Worth area fire department.
If you know you can contain the flames, there are six steps you should follow. If you do not feel confident in your ability to follow these six steps, leave your home immediately to concentrate on calling the fire department for help.
Six steps to putting out a dryer fire include:
- Know the early signs of a dryer fire.
These signs include popping noises, extreme heat around your dryer or a burning odor.
- Leave the dryer door closed.
Trying to open the door can cause burns on your body, while also feeding the fire with oxygen. Besides burns, you risk CO2 exposure and breathing in toxic fumes.
- Put the fire out.
Extinguish the flames using an ABC extinguisher. Use the PASS technique:
- P – Pull the pin using a firm motion
- A – Aim the extinguisher low at the fire’s base
- S – Squeeze the lever firmly
- S – Using a sweeping and spraying motion from side to side at the base of the fire
- Unplug your dryer after putting out a dryer fire.
By unplugging the appliance after putting out a dryer fire, you can help prevent reignition. But only do this if you do not see damage around the connections.
- Safely exit your laundry room.
After putting out a dryer fire, safely exit the room. Ensure you close the door behind you, as doing so can contain fire if it starts again.
- Make safety your biggest priority.
Before installing a new dryer or using your laundry appliances after putting out a dryer fire, call in some experts for inspection. Start with your licensed electrician who can inspect your electrical system. Also have your professional dryer vent cleaning service clean the dryer vents and check all of these connections for safety.
In the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex area, Superior Dryer Vent Cleaning provides the services you need to prevent dryer fires and keep your dryer in safe working order. Call us to schedule your twice-yearly dryer vent cleaning at (214)494-9740.
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