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Content provided courtesy of USAA.

 

 

An estimated 2,900 residential fires a year are caused by clothes dryers, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. These fires increase in the fall and winter, peaking in January, probably because of the quantity and kind of clothes worn in cooler months, the report states.

 

Highly combustible lint in the dryer and vent can reduce airflow and cause overheating, the report warns. Other culprits are foam-backed rugs and athletic shoes in dryers, and nests from small birds or animals in the exhaust vent.

 

To help guard against the risk, the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. recommends:

 

  • Cleaning the lint trap before and after you dry each load of clothes.
  • Cleaning the back of the dryer where lint can get trapped.
  • Having the interior of the dryer and venting system maintained periodically by qualified service personnel. A longer drying time can be a warning sign that it's time to thoroughly clean the vent system.
  • Replacing plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting to keep the air flowing.
  • Not drying clothes or fabrics that have come in contact with flammable substances, such as alcohol, cooking oils, gasoline, spot removers or dry-cleaning solvents. Vapors from these products could ignite or explode.
  • Reading and heeding the manufacturers' warnings and manuals. Also, look for warnings on the inside of the dryer door or lid.