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Energy CostsIN CHARLOTTEMarch 8, 2022by AndrewHow to Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires

Doing laundry doesn’t seem like a possible hazard to your home or family, but dryer fires are a real thing. Dryers cause more than 15,000 structure fires, 400 injuries, about 30 deaths and about $200 million in property losses a year. How do you prevent clothes dryer fires?

What Leads to a Dryer Fire?

A dirty dryer is the most usual reason for a fire. Lint can build up, collect, heat up, get stuck and catch fire in a heating element or duct. A lint trap is very useful, but not a perfect method for filtering and collecting all the lint and dust.
Another complicating piece is more washers and dryers are being put in spots or rooms other than a basement. This commonly means dryer vent ducts have to be longer. Often, the longer ducts have more turns and angles to them, leading to more places lint or debris can gather, or more chances a duct could crack, kink or get dirty.

Tips to Prevent Dryer Fires

  • Clean the lint – You should clean the lint filter before every time you run the dryer. You should clean out the vent pipe frequently to decrease the risk of fire and improve the overall efficiency of the machine.
  • Know where flammable stuff is – Move combustible or flammable material, cleaning supplies or liquids well away from the dryer. Keep the area around and under the dryer clean from dirt and trash.
  • Use the most caution with flammable liquids on clothes – Clothes or material with flammable liquids or chemicals should be washed two or more times. Then, it may be best to line or air dry them rather than use the dryer.
  • Put in a solid steel exhaust duct – Foil or plastic ducts are more likely to crack, sag or bend leading to lint or debris gathering and other potential problems. Metal ducts are more durable, more efficient and more likely to self-contain a spark or fire.
  • Check the tags – It can be important to read the tags and labels on clothes, towels and other stuff you load into your laundry. Follow the instructions with the temperature you dry material, such as laundry with rubber, plastic or metal pieces.
  • Clothes can give you clues – Clothes that aren’t dry after running in the dryer could be telling you about an issue. Check for a clogged vent or dirty lint trap.
  • Don’t leave a dryer running – If you need to leave or have your attention elsewhere, it’s smart to turn off the dryer.
  • Check the outdoor vent – If the outdoor vent, flap or duct leading out are clogged, blocked or filthy, it could be a fire hazard.

    How to Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires
    You should clean the lint filter before every time you run the dryer.

Outside the Dryer

Poor air flow and lint buildup are two main, but preventable, causes of dryer fires. Here are the main mistakes that lead to air flow or lint problems.

  • Not cleaning the dryer duct
  • Dryer vents being too long or having too many curves, angles and kinks. Shorter and straight is the safest option.
  • Using foil or plastic ducts. Crushed, bent or weak ducts make it easier for lint to collect in them. It makes the dryer less efficient overall.
  • Not having enough space between a dryer and a wall. While you want a short vent, there has to be the right amount of space. A smashed, crushed vent also creates a mess, damage and too much heat.

The Right Installation and Parts

  • Install it right from the start – Follow the company’s instructions when mounting the vents and ducts. Use a straight duct the adequate distance from the wall. By not having bends, it gives fewer spots for lint to collect. If you have to vent your dryer a longer distance, consider purchasing a dryer vent fan. A fan boosts air flow through the duct every time you turn on the dryer. This type of fan needs to be installed by an electrician.
  • Vent to the right space – The dryer duct needs to vent to the outside. In no situation should it run to a crawlspace or an attic. Don’t use heat recovery devices or valves. Don’t use termination boxes. None of these devices are considered safe by current standards.
  • Avoid kinking or squashing ducts – It’s tempting to put a dryer as close to a wall as possible to save space, but mashed or bent or squashed ducts become a fire hazard. This could be much more than just an inconvenience. If you really wish to conserve space, the Dryerbox is a new product that lets a dryer be securely installed closer to a wall.
  • The right size for air flow – If it’s feasible, use 4-inch size air vent pipes and exterior exhaust hoods with openings of 16 square inches or larger. This will give your machine the best possible air flow keeping it cooler and more efficient.
  • No screws on the vent pipe – Don’t use screws to keep the vent pipe together. The shafts inside the piping wind up being little spots for lint or other gunk.

More Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Regular maintenance – A dryer needs regular checks and maintenance just like any other major appliance. You should disconnect, inspect and clean the dryer’s ducts on a routine basis. This will lower the fire danger, increase the dryer’s effectiveness and improve its lifespan. Furthermore, you are less most likely to experience water damages.
  • Keeping it cleaner, longer – You can use a vacuum or special brush to clean the lint trap and other places in the machine and vents. You should clean the lint trap after every cycle. It’s smart in the long run to have a pro service technician service the machine every 1-3 years. The dryer should have all its parts checked and professionally cleaned.


Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide electrical safety inspections and wiring and lighting service. In addition, our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.