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Dryer Fire Protection: Are Your Vents Clean?

Last updated 4 years ago

By Greg, Pacific Aire Comfort Advisor, 

Clothes dryer fire protection is now more important in a home than protection from fireplace or chimney fires. In its most recent statistics, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports more than 15,000 dryer fires occur annually in the United States. The major cause? Excess lint trapped in the vent ducts ignited by an overheated dryer or motor. 

Lint buildup contributes to both the cause of the fire and its intensity. As lint accumulates in the vent duct, the flow of exhausted hot air is reduced and eventually almost totally obstructed. Overheating of the dryer motor can result, igniting the flammable lint and causing a fire that can rapidly spread to the entire home.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration has issued guidelines for dryer fire protection:

  • Clean the lint filter after each load of clothes. While the dryer is running, check the exterior vent opening to verify that hot air is exhausting properly. If you don’t feel sufficient airflow, look inside the duct and remove any accessible lint.
  • Schedule a service call with a repair technician if the dryer seems to run hotter than normal. This may indicate a mechanical or electrical problem that can overheat the dryer and ignite lint.
  • If your dryer is fitted with a flexible plastic duct, inspect it more frequently. The ridges in the duct trap lint and can lead to more frequent obstructions. Building codes now require smooth metal exhaust ducts on all new dryer installations. Consider retrofitting to metal ducting for an existing dryer.
  • Schedule a dryer vent inspection every two to three years. An HVAC technician can professionally clean the vent to reduce fire hazard.

Some of the other benefits of regular cleaning include:

  • More efficient dryer operation resulting in less energy consumption
  • Time saved by faster clothes drying
  • A reduction in dust and humidity in the home
  • Less fabric damage from excessive heat — clothes last longer
  • Longer dryer life due to less heat-related wear and tear on components

Pacific Aire Heating & Cooling is the local source for indoor comfort and safety in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Contact us about a vent inspection and cleaning to ensure dryer fire protection. 

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