Your clothes dryer can become one of the greatest fire hazards when not properly maintained. In 1998, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported alarming numbers of dryer vent related fires, prompting insurance companies to require annual cleanings and inspections of dryer vents.

Causes

Most fires are caused when a build up of lint blocks the air flow, causing the dryer motor to overheat. Lint that has collected underneath the dryer will then burn and be pulled up into the duct, often resulting in a house fire.

Other dryer related fires are caused by lint build-up inside the dryer (lint trap), a damaged hose behind the dryer, or anything other than lint that may be blocking the vent and reducing air flow.

Warning Signs

(Any one of these could be an indication of a potential fire hazard.)

  • Is your clothing taking longer than 1cycle 30 minutes to dry?
  • Does the top of your dryer get too hot to the touch?
  • Does the outdoor vent flap open when the dryer is on?
  • Is lint collecting on the inside of the dryer door?
  • Does the vent air flow seem restricted?

Gas Dryers

Gas dryers carry the extra concern of carbon monoxide poisoning. If your dryer vent’s air flow is blocked by lint, CO gases are restricted and cannot properly exit the house. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas and can be fatal to the occupants of the house.