The clothes dryer is one of the most popular appliances in Canada. In today’s all-go, no-stop, continually hectic daily routine, who has time to line-dry their clothes anymore?
Unfortunately, as CBC News recently reported, clothes dryers are one of the leading causes of home fires across Canada annually.
The U.S. Fire Administration states that 34 percent of home fires in North America are caused by a failure to clean the dryer regularly.
Lest you think it could never happen to you, consider that Fire Prevention Canada cites “lack of maintenance” as the single leading cause of clothes dryer-related home fires.
Clothes dryer fires can happen to anyone. But there is something you can do that will drastically reduce your risk of ever having a dryer fire happen to you. Read on to find out what you need to know!
How Clothes Dryers Start Home Fires
All it takes is a single spark landing in a pile of dry trapped lint for a home fire to start.
However, the most common way that dryers start home fires is when the trapped lint deeper inside the unit begins to block hot air from escaping, and this trapped hot air ignites the lint, which starts to smoke and then flame.
5 Quick Tips for Safe Clothes Dryer Use
Fire Prevention Canada recommends taking these simple actions to ensure you are not using your clothes dryer under unsafe conditions that could lead to a home fire.
- Always use your clothes dryer with a clean lint filter in place.
- Clean your lint filter trap after every dryer cycle.
- Wipe off any accumulated lint around the drum after every dryer cycle.
- Check your air exhaust vent and pipe to make sure it is not obstructed or clogged with lint.
- Do not leave the dryer on when you’re not home.
6 Warning Signs Your Clothes Dryer May Be a Fire Risk
Fire Prevention Canada cites these warning signs as possible evidence your clothes dryer may be unsafe to operate.
- The lights dim or flicker every time you activate your clothes dryer for a dry cycle.
- You see sparks when you plug in the clothes dryer for use or unplug it after a dry cycle.
- The clothes dryer electrical cord is warm or hot to the touch after a dry cycle.
- The clothes dryer itself (or your clothing) is very warm or hot to the touch after a dry cycle.
- The clothes dryer is frequently the cause of a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse.
- Your average drying times are increasing gradually beyond the typical 45-minute dry cycle for a single load of clothing.
Instant Fire Risk Reduction: Schedule a Home Dryer Vent Cleaning
Just looking at your clothes dryer right now, it may be challenging to believe it could potentially cause a fire in your home one day. This is especially true if you are a conscientious user who always cleans out the lint filter trap in between loads.
However, if you can’t recall the last time you did more than clear out the lint filter trap to maintain your dryer, the appliance you are staring at could very well be a fire risk right now!
Many homeowners don’t realize that the lint trap filter isn’t the only place where lint and debris can build up inside their clothes dryer. This is why just cleaning out the accessible lint trap isn’t enough to reduce your risk of a home fire.
Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we have the opportunity to see firsthand how rarely residential clothes dryers are given the full course of preventative maintenance they need to stay fire-safe for the long-term.
We are always delighted when a client reaches out to request a dryer vent cleaning, because we know how vital this maintenance is to preventing home fires!
Our 5-Step Clothes Dryer Cleaning Service Saves Lives!
This is what we do to help prevent fires:
- Thoroughly clean the clothes dryer exterior, removing trapped lint, dust and debris from the accessible lint filter trap, exterior vent tubing, exterior exhaust vent cap, behind and beneath the unit.
- Dissemble the dryer unit and use a high-power, professional vacuum to securely clean out the interior of the unit, the drum casing and the vent tubing.
- Check your clothes dryer for excess warmth on the unit itself and the electrical cord.
- Check your unit for carbon monoxide emissions.
- Check and verify that your clothes dryer is sitting flush and level on the ground.
In addition, if we notice that your exhaust vent tubing is vinyl rather than flexible aluminum, we may recommend that you have the vinyl removed and install aluminum instead.
5 Safe Dryer Use Tips to Prevent Home Fires
Scheduling a professional dryer vent cleaning annually is the best way to reduce your risk of a dryer-related home fire.
But there are also things you can do every time you run a dryer cycle to lessen the risk that your dryer might one day start a home fire.
- Don’t try to dry items that have been in contact with flammable cleaning agents.
- Don’t dry foam padding, foam pillows, shoe inserts and similar natural or synthetic materials in the dryer.
- Check and clear exhaust vents regularly, especially during winter when the vents can freeze.
- Don’t use liquid fabric softener with all-cotton items (instead, use dryer sheets for these items).
- Closely monitor any increases in drying times and don’t use your clothes dryer again until you can identify the cause and make repairs.