Member Guest Blog: How to Prevent a Dryer Fire

by Nick Burruano
SERVPRO of Carbondale/ Clarks Summit/ Old Forge

Dryer fires are a leading cause of both residential and commercial fires. Most dryer fires occur from a build up of lint within the ducting system. Unable to properly vent, the temperature rises to a dangerous level, eventually overheating and causing a fire. Over the past several months, SERVPRO of Carbondale/Clarks Summit/Old Forge has been called to clean and restore several local homes that have suffered  fire damage from this exact scenario. The good news is that most dryer fires can be prevented.

You are probably thinking that cleaning the lint filter after each use is enough to prevent a fire, but this isn’t always the case. While cleaning the lint is a great place to start, it is by no means the only maintenance you can perform to keep your drying running safely and smoothly. Did you know that fabric softener can affect the usefulness of your lint filter? The next time you finish a load of laundry, remove the lint filter and clean it as you normally would. Next, run water over the filter and see if the water pools. If it does, your filter runs the risk of still clogging. It is an easy enough fix, though. Use a brush and warm soapy water and gently clean the filter. Try the water technique again until the water runs unimpeded.

Next, unplug your dryer and disconnect the vent hose/line. This is where the majority of fires begin. The buildup is usually higher in flexible hoses because of the potential for excess lint to get caught in the ridges. Depending on how often you run the dryer, a quarterly cleaning of the exhaust vents is a good start. You can simply take your extendable dryer brush and gently extend it into the vent and brush the lint back towards you. A shop-vac can also be used to clean the lines.  Do not overload your dryer. While we are all tempted to just let the dryer do its job, it is recommended never to leave the house while it is operating.

For commercial properties, it is recommended that a preventive maintenance plan be established to ensure the duct lines are properly cleaned on a routine basis. Depending on the size of the “run” (length of the duct exhaust lines), a professional duct cleaning company may be required. They have the necessary equipment to thoroughly clean the entire duct system in an effective and cost efficient manner.

SERVPRO of Carbondale/Clarks Summit/Old Forge has been a Chamber member since 2010.