Dryer fires: Much more common than you might expect

I was taking towels out of the dryer the other day — contrary to what my wife Shannon might tell you I do help out with laundry! Anyway, when I do manage to carve out time to help with laundry, I always make sure that I clean the lint trap. At least once a year I vacuum and clean out the vent pipe that leads from the dryer to outside my house. If you don’t already do it, you would be amazed at the amount of lint that builds up. This may seem like a hassle, but trust me its well worth your time. Dryer lint is a real fire danger. An article I recently read stated that, according to a new government report, there are an estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in homes reported to U.S. fire departments each year. Dryer fires also cause an estimated $35 million in property losses.

Scary stuff, and I know about this first hand because last year a client of mine had a dryer fire that caused a great deal of damage and ended up close to a $200,000 loss. Fortunately, no one was home at the time, but it’s frightening to think that this could have happened at night while everyone was sleeping. How many times have we thrown a load of laundry in the dryer after a long day when the kids are finally put to bed?

Here are some dryer vent cleaning tips to help you make sure your dryer is as safe and efficient as it can be:

1.Unplug the dryer

2. Pull dryer away from the wall – but don’t pull too far or too quickly! You will probably only be able to get a foot or two away from the wall

3.Remove the vent clamp from the back of the dryer with a screwdriver

4. Slide the vent off of the dryer

5. Use your arm (or better yet, a shop vac) to pull out any lint from both the inside of the dryer and the tubing – You may need a plumber’s snake, long-handled scrub brush or a simple hanger in order to better reach all the nooks and crannies in the dryer and the tubing

6. Go outside and remove the vent from the front of house – Keep in mind that you may need to remove caulking as well as screws from around the vent’s frame, and will have to reattach later

7. Using an arm or shop vac, clean out any lint – Again, hanger or scrub brush may make things easier

8. Reattach tubing, vent, etc and reconnect dryer

9. Run dryer for 5-10 minutes on “low” or “fluff” in order to blow out any loose lint

Do you and your family a favor, play it safe and take a few minutes a year to clean the vent!