The Hows and Whys of a Dryer Fire
A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by the moving hot air. It is possible for a full load of wet clothes to contain as much as one and a half gallons of water.
Lint is created from the clothes as the water is removed and the clothes dry. While much of the lint is trapped by the dryer’s filter, lint also is carried through the venting system, together with moist air.
The accumulation of lint, both in the dryer and in the dryer vent, reduces the airflow and creates a highly flammable fuel source.
In addition to the accumulation of lint, blockage in dryer exhaust vents also can occur from the nests of small birds and animals or from bends in the venting system itself. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly to the outside. Overheating may result.
If enough heat is produced to ignite the lint itself or nearby combustible items, such as the clothes in the dryer or combustibles left nearby, the engineered safety mechanisms are compromised and fire ensues.
Source: U.S. Fire Administration
Dryer Safety & Efficiency Tips
Always make sure the lint filter is in place & make sure to clean it out after each use. Failure to clean out lint traps is the main cause of dryer fires.
Make sure the dryer is plugged into an outlet that is suitable for its needs.
Make sure the dryer is properly vented and that dryer vent flaps are not freezing shut or sticking (especially in winter). Remove lint buildup inside the vent by vacuuming occasionally.
Pull out the dryer occasionally to vacuum away any lint behind or underneath the dryer. Learn how to remove the front panel of a dryer and vacuum inside to remove built up lint.
Do not leave the house unattended when the dryer is on.
Do not leave flammable items near the dryer (clothes, rags, cleaning supplies, etc.).
A dryer is an electrical (or sometimes gas) appliance, make sure it’s serviced by a professional only.
It’s recommended your dryer use UL- listed rigid aluminum or steel duct or spiral-wound aluminum flex hose, NOT white vinyl hose.
Have a functional smoke detector placed in the laundry room (somewhere near the dryer).