What’s a common household fire hazard in your home? You might guess a flaming pan on the stove or a short circuit in the wiring. Actually, it’s lint in your clothes dryer. Lint fires cause thousands of household fires every year and result in millions of dollars of property damage. Lint is the tiny fibrous particles of cotton and polyester that occur whenever clothing is dried. It is easily ignited, highly flammable and burns almost explosively.
The chain of events that lead to a lint fire begins with obstructed ventilation from the dryer due to a clogged lint trap or dryer vent duct. As heat builds up inside the interior of the dryer, lint may spontaneously ignite. Lint fires that begin in the dryer frequently migrate into the dryer vent duct which also accumulates lint and extends into an exterior wall. This, in turn, may spread the fire into the structure of the house.
To minimize the fire hazard posed by lint in your clothes dryer, here are some suggestions:
- Always clean the dryer lint before drying every load of clothes.
- Check the size and type of dryer vent duct installed in your house. It should be at least four inches in diameter and fabricated of smooth metal or aluminum. Vinyl plastic flex-vent that was once very common in household dryer vents is now prohibited by most local fire codes. In the event of a lint fire, a plastic vent duct will melt easily and spread flames into the house.
- Make sure the vent duct is as short as possible to reach the nearest exterior wall, and that it incorporates as few sharp bends as possible. Excessively long ducts or those with many turns and bends slow the flow of vented heat and cause accumulation of lint.
- At least once a year, schedule preventive maintenance for the dryer and have the dryer vent duct inspected. If necessary, have residual lint removed by a professional duct cleaning service.
For more on reducing the fire hazard caused by lint accumulation in the dryer and vent duct, contact Rinaldi’s Energy Solutions.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Orlando, Florida and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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