Most people don’t consider their clothes dryer to be anything but an ordinary appliance. However, the reality is that clothes dryers are a source of considerable danger in many homes, as they are responsible for numerous fires in the United States.
In fact, clothes dryers cause around 15 thousand fires per year, and the most common identifiable factor in those fires is dryer lint ignition. Dryer lint is extremely flammable, and it can be easily ignited by the heat of a clothes dryer.
Below are the warning signs of dryer lint accumulation as well as what can be done to minimize the threat through prevention and cleaning.
Warning Signs of a Potential Dryer Lint Fire Hazard
It is crucial for homeowners to understand the warning signs that lint may be building inside their clothes dryers. Ignoring these signs can lead to catastrophe, as a deadly fire may be the end result. Here are four signs that lint is becoming a hazard inside your dryer and will need to be removed before a fire occurs.
Clothing Is Still Wet After Cycle Is Finished
If you notice that clothes are damp when the cycle finishes, then there is a strong possibility of lint accumulation inside the dryer or vent. Lint prevents the moisture from exiting the dryer through the vent and prolongs the time necessary to dry a given item of clothing.
The Lint Screen Has Not Been Regularly Cleaned
While the lint screen doesn’t prevent the need to have a dryer cleaned on a somewhat regular basis, it does capture a significant amount of lint during a cycle. Failing to clean the screen can allow lint to escape into the system and may cause damage or overheating.
If you know the lint screen hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, you can safely assume that lint has infiltrated the vent network in large amounts and will need to be removed.
Dryer Exhaust Is Restricted
Another warning sign of excessive lint accumulation is airflow restriction at the exhaust vent. While other things can clog dryer vents, such as pests and mechanical damage, there is a high likelihood the decreased exhaust flow is due to lint blockage.
The Dryer’s Cabinet Is Noticeably Warmer
Lint accumulation inside the dryer will interfere with heat leaving the dryer, and the cabinet will become noticeably warmer as a result. As the cabinet becomes hotter, you should recognize the increasing probability of a fire.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Lint-Related Fires
If you own a clothes dryer, the good news is that you can often prevent lint-related fires. Below are a couple of strategies that will help keep your dryer, home and its occupants safer.
Clean the Lint Screen Before Every Use
As mentioned, a dirty lint screen can lead to a possible fire, so cleaning the lint screen is an important part of the clothes drying process. Take a few seconds to remove the screen and pick off any accumulated lint.
If the lint screen develops a rip or hole, immediately look for a replacement screen, as a ripped one can allow lots of lint to pass through into the dryer. Be sure to never run the dryer without its lint screen, as its use is critical to keeping lint levels low.
Have Your Clothes Dryer Professionally Cleaned
While homeowners can and should clean the lint screen prior to every use, a clothes dryer and its related vent system can be tricky to clean. That’s why it’s important to find a reliable company that can deep clean the interior of your dryer. If done correctly, professional cleaning will restore the interior of a dryer to its nearly original condition in many cases.