Appliances are some of the most overlooked items when considering house fire prevention. One of the first signs your dryer vent may be a problem is when your clothes are not drying as quick as they used to. This may not necessarily mean you need a new dryer. In fact it could be a warning sign to prevent a possible fire.
When the duct going from your dryer to the outside becomes trapped and filled with lint, this reduces the flow of air to your dryer, causing it to become less effective in drying your clothes. Typical dry times are 45-50 minutes, and any longer may be a signal you have a overly clogged duct. House fire prevention begins with proper inspection. Dryer lint is very flammable, and in fact contributes to more house fires in a single year than fires in the chimney. Statistics show that on average there are greater than fifteen thousand house fires each year with an estimated 10 deaths and 10 injuries owing to dryer vents.
Not only are fires a problem, but so is exposure to carbon monoxide with poor ventilation set up. Sometimes this is due to a faulty appliance, but in some cases fires and carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented just by checking to make sure your vent operating efficiently and is properly set up.
The first step is to make sure you clean your lint trap after each dryer load. While this is a good practice, you must also periodically check your vent pipe leading to the outside.This is particularly true if you notice increased clothes drying times. A good rule of thumb is that if your pipe to the outside exceeds eight feet then you should check it at least once a year.
Some additional house fire prevention tips for dryer vents include:
1) Never operate the dryer when you are away from your home
2) Periodically check for stray lint inside the dryer, underneath the dryer, and around dryer motor areas.
3) Get your dryer checked by a professional at the first sign of malfunction.
4) Clean your dryer vent pipe thoroughly once a year
5) Take precautions when drying clothes that have come in contact with flammable chemicals
6) Periodically clean your lint trap with warm sudsy water.
In summary, know that you are ultimately responsible for your home and your familys’ lives and safety. Simple routine inspection of all appliances in your house can save hundreds each year in electrical maintenance and power bills, but most importantly can save lives. Good house fire prevention begins with good inspection.