The One Fire Risk Almost No One Knows About

By Modernistic
– One of the leading causes of residential fires every year is the dryer vent. It's a huge fire risk if it’s not cleaned out regularly. Hire a professional to clean it out at least once a year.

Homeowners across Michigan know the dangers of house fires, and chances are you’ve already taken precautions to reduce the risk of a fire happening in your home. You’ve checked all your smoke alarms, made sure your electrical system is up to date, stopped using candles, taught your kids to not play with matches, and a hundred other safety measures to reduce your risk. You should be safe, right?

What you don’t know CAN hurt you

But there’s one place almost nobody thinks to check, even though it’s consistently one of the leading causes of residential fires every year: the dryer vent. That’s right, your dryer vent is a huge fire risk if it’s not cleaned out regularly. Over time, lint from your clothing will accumulate in the vent. While the lint trap on your dryer collects 99% of the flammable material, that 1% that gets through will collect after a while. Flexible dryer hose is especially prone to collecting lint with its ridges, corners, and bends. A small spark or rising heat is all it takes, and up in flames it goes. There’s a reason lint is such a great fire starter!

How do I know if I’m at risk?                                                                  

Uncleaned lint screens, or lint built up inside or around the dryer itself, can ignite if a dryer runs too hot for too long. However, the biggest risk comes from the vent itself. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Does your dryer run super hot? Pay attention to how well your dryer runs. If it feels exceptionally hot during a cycle, or if it regularly takes more than one cycle to dry your clothes, it may be time to clean your dryer vent.
  • Does your laundry room feel damp or have a musty odor? A blocked dryer vent can cause warm, humid air to backup into your laundry room. This could be due to lint, but it can also mean an animal has chosen to nest in your vent. Have a professional come in to clean it out.
  • Are you washing flammable material? Be careful if you’re washing clothes which have been stained with a volatile agent. If you’ve spilled gasoline, cooking oil, alcohol, cleaning agents, or other flammable substances on your clothes, wash them twice and line dry.
  • Do you have flexible hose? Dryer vents made from flexible tubing, such as foil or plastic, collect lint in areas where it sags or bends. Long dryer vents are also a risk, especially if they make several twists and turns before venting outside. Examine your current setup, and replace any flexible tubing with a rigid, metal duct.
  • Is your dryer loaded correctly? Don’t overload your dryer, and don’t dry anything against the manufacturer’s instructions. The same applies for any item with foam, plastic, or rubber, such as a bathroom mat with a slip-proof backing.

Have a professional clean your dryer vent regularly

If you aren’t sure when you last had your dryer vent cleaned, or if you’ve noticed any of the warning signs above, bring in a professional to take a look. Across the country, built-up lint causes more than 15,000 residential fires per year. Experts recommend cleaning out your dryer vent at least once every year, depending on your laundry workload, so don’t put it off. Keep your home safe by adding this to your fire safety regimen!