Friday, June 14, 2013

Clothes Dryers, A Leading Cause of Home Fires in Orlando.

Clothes dryers have become an indispensable part of American family life.  Today, people are not aware that clothes dryers are a leading cause of fires in the home – approximately 15,000 every year.   It is important to rigorously inspect and clean dryers.  A little preventative maintenance can keep them in good working order and keep your family safe.

Causes of dryer fires?
One of the most common causes of dryer fires is lack of maintenance.  When lint traps do not get cleaned as often as they should be, the resulting build-up in the screen or other areas can cause the dryer to perform poorly, operate at elevated temperatures and possibly overheat with dangerous results.  Vent systems must also be checked and cleaned to maintain proper air flow for the same reasons.  The floor area surrounding the dryer must be lint, dirt, and clothes free.  A lint ball, sock or clothing item can easily be sucked from the floor in front or beside your dryer into the heating coils igniting it and the lint in your dryer vents.

Problems also occur when people place improper items in their dryers, such as foam backed rugs or athletic shoes.  Ensure whatever you put in your dryer is approved and safe to place in a dryer.  When in doubt, check the washing instructions on the tag of the clothing or consult the manufacturer’s website for more information.  Plastic or vinyl exhaust vent materials should never be used.    

Reduce your risk of dryer fires!
Ensure that your dryer has rigid or flexible metal venting and ducting materials to help sustain airflow. This will also reduce operating costs and extend the life of the dryer and clothing due to lower drying temperatures.

In addition:

  • Clean the lint trap before or after drying each load of clothes.
  • Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can be trapped.
  • Ensure the floor around your dryer is free of debris, lint and clothing.
  • The interior of the dryer and venting system should be cleaned periodically by qualified service technician.  If drying time is longer than normal, clean the vent system thoroughly to ensure proper airflow.
  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting.
  • Do not dry clothes or fabric on which there is anything flammable (alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers, dry-cleaning solvents, etc.). Flammable substances give off vapors that could ignite or explode. 
  • Gasoline should not be stored near dryers or water heaters and should only be stored in approved containers.
  • Read manufacturers’ warnings in use and care manuals that accompany new dryers.  Warnings can usually be found on the inside of the dryer’s lid and take only minutes to read.

Did you know that?

  • Clothes dryers can be found in 80 percent, or 81.5 million homes throughout the United States.
  • A full load of wet clothes placed in a dryer contains about one half gallon of water.  Lint is created from the clothes as water is removed.
  • Clothes dryers are one of the most expensive appliances in your home to operate.  The longer it runs the more money it costs you.
  • The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that 15,500 fires associated with clothes dryers occur annually. These fires account for an average of 10 deaths and 310 injuries and more than $84.4 million in property damage annually.

In the opinion of this home inspector, you should pay careful attention to the maintenance and cleaning of your clothes dryer.  Be careful to remove lint before or after every use.  Preform a detailed cleaning monthly and call in a appliance technician annually to clean and maintain your dryer.  Out of sight lint can go unnoticed until it is too late and fire breaks out.  Protect yourself, your family and your home; a home fire can take all you hold precious.  

Frank Carr is the Owner / Inspector at First Choice Home Inspections in Deltona, FL serving Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Lake Counties.  Formerly in the building trades, Frank’s focus is a safe home and building FCHI. We believe that consumers have the right to expect the highest standards of thoroughness, fairness and effectiveness from their home inspector and that is exactly what we provide.

First Choice Home Inspections 
(386) 624-3893