Credit: contributed / PuroClean

GOOD Home” is a biweekly sponsored column published in partnership with PuroClean of Wilton | Ridgefield about home safety, maintenance, weather preparedness, and damage prevention, with the goal to save homeowners from the hassle and headaches of severe property damage. Located in south Wilton (24 Danbury Rd., Suite 204), PuroClean provides 24/7 water damage remediation, fire and smoke restoration, and mold and biohazard removal services to the Fairfield County community and across southwest CT and Northeastern Westchester County.

Who among us hasn’t procrastinated when it comes to sorting out laundry? It is a necessary chore we love to hate, but it’s vital to maintaining a fresh and clean living space. Of course, we also love the feeling of freshly washed clothes. But what happens when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and hanging your clothes outside is not an option? This is where a clothes dryer comes in handy. It’s the ultimate time-saver, allowing you to do your laundry in a jiffy.

However, there can be a downside when it comes to clothes dryers. Many people are unaware that thousands of dryer fires happen yearly, with potentially disastrous consequences such as injuries, fatalities, and extensive property damage. These fires can arise from multiple factors, such as neglecting to clean the lint screen, utilizing inappropriate venting materials, and overloading the dryer. Understanding these causes and taking necessary measures to prevent such catastrophic events from happening in our homes is essential.

A clothes dryer control panel Credit: contributed / PuroClean

Operating your clothes dryer per the manufacturer’s directions is essential.

According to the United States Fire Administration, clothes dryer fires account for over $35 million in property damage annually. To avoid the strain on your wallet, be mindful of dryer safety guidelines and ensure your clothes dryer runs as it should. The following tips can help prevent clothes dryer fires and protect your home and family from harm.

Tips for Dryer Safety

1. Properly Ground Your Appliance

A stable dryer is a safe dryer! Properly grounding your clothes dryer is essential in preventing electrical mishaps that could result in a fire hazard. A grounded dryer has a secure connection with the ground, enabling any surplus electrical current to flow safely. This is especially crucial in preventing electrical arcs or sparks that could ignite flammable materials in or around the dryer, posing a significant danger to your property and loved ones. 

Apart from preventing fire hazards, proper grounding can also shield you from electrical shock or injury while using your dryer. To ensure maximum safety, check that your dryer is appropriately grounded before turning it on. If you need assistance, contact an experienced electrician who can check that your dryer is firmly grounded. Remember, safety always comes first!

2. Keep the Area Around Your Appliance Clear

Your laundry room could be a matchbox for clothes dryer fires, what with all the items stored in it. Maintain a clear space around your dryer. Ensure that no flammable items, such as cleaning supplies, boxes, or clothing, are near the dryer that could quickly catch fire.

Be sure you’re not overloading your dryer at any point. Credit: contributed / PuroClean

3. Lay Flammable Clothes Outside to Dry

Have you been working on a home improvement project that required you to use a concentrated solution? Hold off throwing your clothes in the dryer! If your clothes have been in contact with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cleaning products, or paint thinner, lay them outside to dry before washing and drying them as usual. This process helps eliminate any residual flammable substance before the clothes are exposed to the high heat generated by the dryer, keeping you and your property safe.

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4. Have Your Clothes Dryer Serviced by a Professional

Get your dryer installed and serviced by a licensed professional. An experienced technician can thoroughly inspect the appliance and identify any underlying problems that may lead to safety hazards, such as a dryer fire. Trusting a professional to handle your clothes dryer can give you peace of mind, knowing that your appliance is functioning correctly. 

Regular maintenance, cleaning, and servicing of your dryer will prolong its lifespan and efficiency. Additionally, you’ll save on costly repairs or replacements in the future. A professional can provide helpful tips on dryer maintenance and safety, such as regularly checking the lint filter and keeping the area around the dryer free from anything that can easily catch fire. 

5. Use a Lint Trap

Don’t take a lint screen for granted! Clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry. It is designed to catch the lint produced during drying, preventing it from accumulating in the venting system. Operating a dryer without a lint filter can be extremely dangerous because the lint can build up in the vent pipe and ductwork, creating a significant fire hazard. 

While a clean lint filter is crucial for fire safety, a clogged filter can restrict airflow and cause the dryer to overheat, increasing the fire risk. Remove any visible lint that has collected around the drum, as it can lead to the buildup of flammable materials. Developing a habit of checking and cleaning the lint filter and drum after each load is an important safety step. If necessary, set a reminder to help you remember to perform this crucial task.

Remember to clean the lint filter periodically to avoid accumulation.

6. Use the Right Venting Material

Choosing the suitable venting material prevents dryer fires and ensures proper airflow and drying time. It’s best to use rigid or flexible metal venting material for your dryer, as it is less likely to collapse or get damaged during use, reducing the risk of fire. Avoid plastic or foil venting material since they damage easily. Using the appropriate venting material reduces the risk of fire and enhances your dryer’s efficiency and lifespan. Get your venting system regularly inspected and replace any worn or damaged components.

7. Ensure Proper Air Exhaust

Check that your dryer vent is ventilated correctly by checking that the air exhaust vent pipe is unobstructed and that the outdoor vent flap opens when the machine is in use. A blocked vent causes your dryer to overheat, increasing the chances of a fire. Cleaning the lint out of the pipe at least once a year prevents blockages and maintains your dryer’s safety and efficiency. If you notice that your clothes take longer than usual to dry, it may be a sign that the vent pipe needs more frequent cleaning.

Proper clothes dryer maintenance can save you and your property from disaster. Credit: contributed / PuroClean

8. Have Gas-Powered Dryers Inspected

Get your gas-powered dryer checked by a qualified professional to confirm the gas line and connection are secure and that leaks are nowhere in sight. Gas leaks can result in severe fire hazards and increase the risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. The technician will inspect the gas line, connection, valve, and burner assembly for any indications of damage or wear during the examination. They may also conduct a gas pressure test to detect leaks or other problems.

9. Follow the Manufacturer’s Operating Instructions

Don’t toss out the manual that came with your clothes dryer! The manufacturer’s operating instructions can be a useful starting point if your dryer malfunctions. These instructions offer valuable guidance on using and maintaining the appliance to prevent safety hazards like dryer fires and unusual noises that might indicate a bigger issue.

Clean your dryer vents often to avoid any issues. Credit: contributed / PuroClean

10. Don’t Overload Your Clothes Dryer

Stuffing as many clothes in the dryer seems like the convenient thing to do to save time, but it can backfire. Putting too many clothes in your dryer is a frequent mistake that can compromise your dryer’s efficiency. It can obstruct the proper circulation of hot air and cause the appliance to overheat, possibly leading to a fire. Overloading can also damage the motor, causing it to wear out faster and produce more lint, which can accumulate in the dryer’s venting system and increase the risk of fire. 

To avoid these problems, always follow the recommended load capacity provided by the manufacturer and avoid overstuffing the dryer. This ensures your dryer’s safe and efficient operation and guarantees that your clothes are thoroughly dried and wrinkle-free. It’s a win-win situation!

11. Turn Off the Dryer When You Leave Home

Turning on the clothes dryer while you’re asleep at night or running errands sounds tempting, but don’t do it! Always use your clothes dryer when you’re at home and awake. Failure to do so may amplify the risk of a fire outbreak due to a defective vent or heating component. By powering down the dryer, you can mitigate the likelihood of a fire starting and avert any potential harm to your family or property. 

12. Call PuroClean for Immediate Fire Damage Restoration

If you’ve experienced fire damage, acting quickly and calling a professional restoration service is crucial. PuroClean specializes in fire damage restoration and can help you get your home or business back to its pre-fire condition as soon as possible. Our trained professionals use advanced techniques and equipment to clean up any damage caused by the fire, including smoke and soot damage. 

We understand how stressful and overwhelming it can be to deal with fire damage, so we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide reliable restoration relief. We aim to minimize the disruption to your life and restore your property.

Look us up on LinkedinFacebook, or Instagram; call us at 475.277.2400; or email us