October is Fire Prevention Month. In addition to more commonly known causes of residential fires, each year there are thousands of dryer fires that cause death or injuries and result in millions of dollars of damage. Most of these can be prevented with proper dryer cleaning and venting maintenance. When lint builds up in the dryer ductwork, it chokes the airflow and causes heat to build up in the exhaust duct, creating ideal conditions for a fire.
A significant amount of lint is not caught by the lint trap which should be cleaned out after each load. This builds up inside the dryer – even on the heating element – causing the dryer to overheat and possibly catch fire. Flimsy plastic or foil duct extenders are easily kinked or crushed during installation restricting air flow, and the spiral round surfaces tend to catch more lint. Solid metal ducts and vents are recommended instead. Be sure to disconnect, clean and inspect your ductwork on a regular basis. Finally, never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house, or even worse, while you are asleep.