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Lose the Lint: Prevent Residential Clothes Dryer Fires

Waukesha home inspector

The most common causes of fire from residential dryers are easily preventable. About a third of dryer fires in the U.S. occur because people fail to remove lint buildup in the dryer or exhaust duct. Dryer Inspection Tips:

  1. Make sure dryer ducts are at least four inches in diameter and as large as the dryer outlet.

  2. The dryer’s exhaust duct developed length should not be longer than 25 feet. To determine developed length, consider that each 90-degree turn adds five feet.

  3. Ensure that dryer vents are not part of any other system and end outside—not into a chimney or attic, for example.

  4. To prevent dryer exhaust from re-entering the home, the outside dryer exhaust vent’s termination hood should have a back draft damper.

  5. Flexible transition ducts should never be used in an attic, crawl space or inside a wall.

  6. Note that rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal transition ducts should be used between the dryer and the exhaust duct—not plastic or foil accordion ducting material, which can trap lint and reduce air flow.

Important dryer and vent maintenance tips:

  1. It’s important that dryers are installed correctly—a job best left to the professionals.

  2. Never use a dryer without a lint filter. Clean the filter before and after each load to prevent lint buildup; also, clean lint from around the drum.

  3. Occasionally (once a year, or so) clean lint out of the vent, or hire a professional to do the service.

  4. If you have a gas dryer, have it professionally inspected occasionally to ensure the gas line and connection are in working order.

  5. Use the correct plug and outlet, according to manufacturer specifications.

  6. Don’t overload the dryer and turn it off when you leave or go to bed.

  7. Finally, Consumer Reports offers a few tips about how what one puts in the dryer might cause problems. Avoid drying clothes that might have volatile chemical residue, such as that from gasoline or cooking oil. Wash these clothes more than once and line dry them, instead of using the dryer. And use dryer sheets instead of fabric softener on cotton clothes made of fleece, terry cloth or velour. Liquid fabric softener added to the wash seemed to make these fabrics burn faster, according to Consumer Reports.

Book Your Inspection Today 262-860-0766

Nick Jewett is the proud owner of Pro-Tech Home Inspection LLC and is Wisconsin State licensed and Nationally certified. Pro-Tech offers quality and thorough inspection services as well as radon testing and Drone photography in the Greater Milwaukee area. Reports are delivered the same day!

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