Modern appliances are wonderful. They’re convenient. They’re fast. And they spare us from a lot of hard work. One of the appliances that we’ve grown accustomed to in daily life is clothes dryers. We throw laundry into the dryer without even thinking about it, but did you know that your dryer, your innocent, wonderful, convenient little dryer, is a major fire hazard?
According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association, there were 15,970 fires started due to washers and dryers each year between 2010 and 2014, and 92% (about 14,700) of those were started by dryers.
That’s nothing to sneeze at. Yes, you have home insurance to help you if you do ever have a fire, but why not do everything you can to prevent one in the first place? To help you keep your dryer as non-combustible as possible, we’ve got 11 safety tips. With these tips, you can help your appliance decide not to catch on fire.
1. Clean the lint filter.
Cleaning the lint filter before and after each load of laundry can help avoid lint buildup that could cause a fire. In the aforementioned NFPA report, it was noted that the most common cause of dryer fires is the failure to properly clean the machine. Fires are usually started when something being dried or a byproduct of drying (such as lint or dust) ignites.
You should also clean the area behind the appliance, too. Lots of dust, lint, and other nasty stuff can build up back there.
2. Don’t overload the dryer.
Take it easy on your dryer. Don’t cram clothes in there, as this could cause the machine to break and just give up.
3. Clean up the laundry room.
Don’t keep flammable items near the dryer. It can get pretty hot, and you don’t want that heat to cause something in your laundry room to go up in flames.
4. Be outlet-smart.
Check and make sure that the right kind of plug and outlet are being used for your dryer. It’s important to always use outlets and electricity the way that they were intended to be used (this doesn’t just go for dryers.)
Speaking of electricity, make sure that your dryer is properly grounded. It’s always important to choose a reputable electrician to help you.
5. Enlist the help of professionals.
When you’re having your dryer installed, make sure that you have a qualified professional come out to do the job. That also goes for having your dryer serviced or cleaned. You should have a technician clean the interior and ventilation system to remove lint buildup from time to time. Once a year is a good idea, but you might need to have it cleaned more frequently if you notice it’s taking forever for your clothes to dry.
You can ask the person who comes to clean your dryer to make sure that the air exhaust pipe isn’t blocked at all, and you should also ask them to make sure that the outdoor vent flap is opening properly when the machine is in use.
6. Don’t use your dryer without a lint filter.
There’s a reason that thing’s there. Don’t use the dryer without it. Bad plan.
7. Keep your dryer in good working order.
If you have a gas appliance, make sure to have it checked over by a professional to make sure the gas line and connection are good to go and there are no gas leaks anywhere.
8. Ditch plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses.
Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with metal venting.
9. Be careful what you dry.
If any of your clothes have come in contact with anything flammable, like alcohol, cooking oil, gasoline, dry cleaning solvents, or the like, don’t toss them in the dryer. Instead, lay them outside and wait until they are completely dry before washing them and drying them as usual.
10. Dry while you’re at home and awake.
Turn the machine off if you’re going to be out. As tempting as it might be, don’t throw in a load of laundry and take off. Only run the dryer while you’re home, and don’t run it if you’re going to go to bed.
11. If a fire starts inside the dryer…
If a fire starts, don’t open the door to try to extinguish it. This might be your first reaction and gut instinct, but you’ll only let in more oxygen, possibly making the fire worse.
Yes, you love your dryer. It makes laundry so much easier. The rumbling growl means fresh, warm clothes that smell amazing. But you also have to take care of it so that it doesn’t catch fire. Maintain your dryer so that your faithful friend doesn’t turn into a fiery one and protect your family by making sure that you have enough home insurance.
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