Every year in North America, more than 15,000 fires start when trapped dryer vent lint overheats and ignites. And every year, multiple people die as a result.
This statistic has secured the clothes dryer a permanent spot on many home insurers’s top five most dangerous home appliances lists.
But, unfortunately, there are still far too many homeowners who remain blissfully unaware of the danger they are in.
Clothes dryers are a great invention in many ways. However, they require regular and very specific maintenance to function well and safely. In this post, learn how to make sure your clothes dryer is safe to operate.
At CleanAir Solutions, our technicians are focused on keeping your home environment safe. If you have any questions concerning your dryer vent or would like to schedule a dryer vent cleaning, contact our team today!
How Does a Clothes Dryer Catch on Fire?
This is actually a very common question our service technicians hear as they are making their regular weekly series of service calls.
In fact, the question usually pops up during an indoor air duct cleaning. Thanks to the global pandemic, indoor air duct cleaning has gone from near-complete obscurity to making news headlines.
For most of our customers, it is really eye-opening to peer into that little remote camera we send up into the air ducts before each cleaning.
The camera reveals what 5-20 years of benign neglect can do to the inside of a home duct system. Some ducts we’ve cleaned are so clogged it’s amazing that any airflow can still get through!
A chronically clogged duct system can eventually cause a home fire as trapped dust, dirt and debris collects on and around the HVAC blower motor, causing it to overheat and ignite.
Clogged air filters represent a similar risk. Restricted air flow pushes the blower motor to work harder and harder until it overheats and ignites.
But even these are not as dangerous as what can happen when trapped dryer lint on, in or around your clothes dryer encounters heated air and catches on fire.
This is precisely why our indoor air quality experts recommend scheduling an indoor air duct cleaning and a dryer vent cleaning together, especially if you have inherited both your ducts and your appliances from a prior homeowner.
Where Does Flammable Lint Get Trapped in Your Clothes Dryer?
The average clothes dryer operates at between 51 and 57 degrees Celsius (125 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit).
And yet most people think that scooping out visible lint from the clothes dryer lint trap is enough to prevent a clothes dryer fire.
How we wish this was the case!
When you see a wad of visibly trapped lint in the lint trap, this is just a portion of all the flammable lint potentially trapped inside your clothes dryer, air duct and exhaust vent.
Don’t get us wrong – you should definitely clean the lint trap after every single load of laundry you dry. But this on its own is not ever going to be enough to effectively reduce the risk of a dryer-related home fire.
This is because lint gets trapped in much deeper places inside the interior of your dryer – places you can’t see or reach.
In addition to the lint trap, the most common places where our dryer vent specialists find trapped lint include behind the dryer drum and inside the air duct that leads to the exhaust vent.
Sometimes dirt and debris also makes its way into the dryer from the outside. Birds and small animals love to build nests in exhaust vent holes. This activity can end up pushing dust, dirt and debris back up into your dryer, coating and clogging the interior components with highly flammable organic particulates.
Another serious fire risk that is too frequently overlooked is the residue from fabric softener treatments and dryer sheets that can build up inside the dryer drum. This residue can be very flammable when heated.
How to Clean Out Your Clothes Dryer Lint
At this point, you might be wondering if you can clean the dryer lint out of your clothes dryer on your own.
We don’t recommend this, since it can require some specialized equipment and know-how. At a minimum, you will likely need a flashlight, a screwdriver, a roto brush kit with a vacuum attachment, metal duct tape, towels and vinegar/water cleaning solution.
You will need to detach the exhaust air duct and thread the roto brush inside the duct tube to clean it from the outside end and the dryer end. The suction should be strong enough to pull out loosely trapped debris and agitate dust and dirt that is adhered to the sides of the duct.
SAFETY NOTE: It is very important to disconnect the power to the clothes dryer at the electrical box before you do anything more advanced than simply pulling excess visible lint out of the lint trap!
However, once you have a professional dryer vent cleaning done, you can help the benefits to last as long as possible by removing dryer lint after every single cycle.
How Often Should You Clean Your Clothes Dryer Vent?
The frequency of a professional dryer vent cleaning should match your usage habits. If you do laundry and use your clothes dryer daily, you would be best served with a quarterly cleaning.
If you do laundry once or twice each week and dry only certain items, you may be safe having your clothes dryer professionally cleaned twice per year.
Your CleanAir Solutions service technician can help you to identify the right frequency of dryer vent cleaning.
Hamilton Ontario CleanAir Solutions Is Your Dryer Vent Cleaning Expert
CleanAir Solutions has nearly half a century of expertise improving indoor air quality to protect your family’s health and safety.
Give us half a day and we will have your indoor air quality feeling and smelling better. Our prompt, professional, polite service technicians are earning rave reviews from your Hamilton Ontario area friends, neighbours and colleagues – but don’t take our word for it.
Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online and let us prove it to you!