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Pete Mackey
Pete Mackey
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Your Dryer – Is There A Fire Inside?

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I ran into a friend in court a few weeks ago who looked distressed. As we spoke, the cause of that distress spilled out – a fire had just about destroyed a weekend getaway he owns nearby. The cause – his dryer vent hose became obstructed with lint and overheated. Only an alert neighbor saved a total loss.

What really took me back was what his insurance agent told him when he reported the loss – his agency gets about one claim a month for a fire caused by an obstructed dryer vent. If you need any proof, check it out. There are steps that you can take to make sure that you and your family don’t become victims:

    • Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes. If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle or drying requires longer times than normal, this may be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked.

    • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically. Check the outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it is not, the vent or the exhaust duct may be blocked. To remove a blockage in the exhaust path, it may be necessary to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer. Remember to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent before using the dryer again.

    • Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up. Have a qualified service person clean the interior of the dryer chassis periodically to minimize the amount of lint accumulation. Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter.

    • Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. The flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow

    • Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. If possible, wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of volatile chemicals on the clothes and, preferably, hang the clothes to dry. If using a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cool-down period at the end of the cycle. To prevent clothes from igniting after drying, do not leave the dried clothes in the dryer or piled in a laundry basket.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Great advice on a topic I’m sure people don’t consider until it’s to late.