You empty out your lint trap before you use your dryer, but do you do anything else to make sure that your equipment is well maintained? Did you know that dryer vent fires are the #2 cause of home fires in the United States? A surprising number of home fires originate in vents that become obstructed by lint. It is recommended to have your dryer vents inspected and cleaned every 12 to 18 months. Many condominiums and townhomes require yearly dryer vent duct cleaning to ensure that all residents are safe in their homes.
Essential Dryer Safety Tips
Improper dryer vents are also important to note and can pose a safety problem. Here are a few essential things to know in order to keep your clothes dryer running safely and efficiently.
Use metal dryer ducts to help prevent dryer fires. Flexible dryer ducts made of foil or plastic are problematic because lint will collect at low points where they sag. Ridges can also trap lint. Metal ducts don’t sag, so lint is less likely to build up. Furthermore, if a fire does start, a metal duct is a safer option and is more likely to contain it.
Check if your dryer ductwork uses an adjustable rigid 90 degree elbow to the exhaust end of the dryer. Semi-rigid flexible ducts can bend and twist when the dryer is pushed back into place, which can cause a major obstruction to exhaust flow and dryer ventilation.
Make sure all rigid metal and semi-rigid ductwork sections are securely attached. Use a 4 inch worm-drive stainless steel duct band clamp.
Remove any visible lint from the lint screen each time you use your dryer. In addition to reducing the risk of a fire, this will help your clothes dry faster and your dryer will use less energy. If you detect dryer film, you can occasionally clean the lint filter with warm soapy water and a small brush.
Besides cleaning dryer ducts, clean inside, behind, and underneath the dryer. Lint can also build up there.
Take special care when drying clothes stained with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils. To minimize the presence of these chemicals on the clothing, wash the clothing more than once and line dry instead of using a dryer.
Be careful when using liquid fabric softener on clothing made of fleece, terry cloth, or velour. Liquid fabric softener added to rinse water can accelerate the burning speed of these fabrics. Use dryer sheets instead.
Utilize moisture sensors! Dryers using thermostats to end the auto-dry cycle can run longer than necessary. Dryers that use moisture sensors can be more energy efficient.