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What Causes a Dryer Vent Fire

What Causes a Dryer Vent Fire

Whether you rent or own, reducing the risk of fire in your home is vital to your safety and well-being. You’re probably aware that doing things like cooking, burning candles, and overloading electrical outlets are common causes of house fires, which is why you practice caution with these things; however, there’s something else in your home that can be a serious fire hazard that you may be overlooking: the dryer.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), thousands of dryer vent fires occur each year, resulting in millions of dollars in property damage, serious physical injuries, and worst of all, death. Because clothes dryers can be a serious fire hazard, understanding what causes dryer vent fires, and properly maintaining and using this appliance is imperative.

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How a Clothes Dryer Works

In order to understand how dryer vent fires happen and to know how to properly use and maintain this appliance, you first need to understand how it works. It’s actually pretty simple. When you turn your dryer on, it draws in outdoor air through the vents, and that air is then heated and distributed throughout the drum of the appliance and the clothing inside of it. The heated air draws moisture out of the damp laundry, and that moisture becomes vapor. The vapor passes through a lint screen, travels through the lint trap, and is exhausted out of your house.

The manner in which a dryer works creates the perfect conditions for a fire: a heating element generates heat, and the lint and laundry serve as fuel. When these elements combine, and a constant flow of oxygen blows into the appliance, well, it’s easy to see how a fire can not only spark, but spread throughout the dryer – and the rest of your home.

What Causes a Dryer Vent Fire

Now that you have a basic understanding of how a clothes dryer works and how a fire can start, let’s explore some of the factors that can contribute to a fire.

Clogs

Clogged filters, vents, and/or ducts are the most common causes of a drier vent fire. Lint is comprised of the small bits of fibers, threads, and hair that come off of your laundry while it’s spinning around the drum of the dryer. Items left in pockets, such as gum wrappers and pieces of paper can fall out, as well. Typically, this debris travels out of the dryer along with the moist air, and it gets trapped in and clogs up the filters, vents, and/or ducts. When that happens and heat from the dryer makes contact with the trapped lint and debris, a fire can occur. Additionally, excess lint can get trapped in the heating elements and catch fire.

Improper Installation

A dryer features a series of vents and ducts, and in order to ensure everything is working properly, it has to be installed properly. If the appliance isn’t installed properly, the risk of fire increases, as short circuits and overheating can occur. If you recently purchased a new dryer, while you might be tempted to install it yourself, having it installed by a certified and experienced technician is highly recommended. A professional will make sure that all of the components are hooked up correctly, which will not only reduce the risk of fire but will improve the function of the appliance.

Poor Maintenance

A lot of people don’t put too much thought into how they use their dryer; they just toss their wet laundry in, turn it on, and when the buzzer goes off, empty it and go about their business, repeating the process over and over again. Many don’t realize, however, that a clothes dryer has to be maintained. Not only should you empty out the lint trap after each use, but you should also have the appliance professionally maintained by a certified dryer vent cleaning service.

A professional will use state-of-the-art technologies and proven techniques and strategies to thoroughly clean the vents, filters, and ducts, removing all lint and debris. They’ll also inspect the appliance to make sure that all components are working properly. If any issues are detected, they’ll let you know and can make the repairs that are necessary. Having your dryer vent cleaned by a professional will significantly reduce the risk of fire.

Contact New Jersey’s Trusted Dryer Vent Cleaning Experts

To protect your home, your loved ones, and your family, and to improve the function of your dryer, schedule an appointment with New Jersey’s dryer vent cleaning experts: Apex Chimney Repairs. Call 732.314.7171 or submit a contact form on our website today!

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