We’ve been talking about fire prevention a lot lately. The reason for this is simple — house fires are very common this time of year and we care about our community. In many cases, these tragedies can be prevented. Adding a few simple steps to your routine truly can keep your home and family protected. That’s why we want to talk about dryer vent safety.
We depend on our washer and dryer to keep our clothes laundered, but we don’t always do enough to keep them well-maintained. As a result, potential problems and hazards may go unnoticed until it’s too late. Don’t take unnecessary risks — follow these dryer safety tips to prevent a house fire.
Have a Professional Install Your Dryer
It’s tempting to install washers and dryers ourselves, but think of the financial investment involved in purchasing major appliances. Do you really want to risk doing something that could damage them or your home (or void your manufacturer’s warranty)? It’s best to spend the extra money to have everything professionally installed so that you’ll know it was done right. Additionally, if you have problems, you’ll know they weren’t caused by you!
A qualified technician will know which materials to use, how to reduce bends in the pipe, and ensure that you’re using the correct plug and outlet. This is critical as overloaded electrical circuits can create fire hazards. When necessary, a professional can even install a dryer vent fan. These are commonly used to improve air flow through the ducts if your dryer is far from the vent.
Remove Lint From the Dryer Filter
You’ve probably heard this advice many, many times, but we’re going to say it again — always remove the lint from the filter before and after each load of laundry. Yes, every single time. Dry vents can cause house fires, and this is one of the most common issues.
Household dust and lint get trapped in the dryer filter and are in close proximity to the appliance’s heating elements. As such, they can quickly ignite and start a fire. That’s why it’s so important to be vigilant about lint. If you want to take it a step further, wipe down the inside of the dryer where particles can fall and accumulate.
Keep The Area Around Your Dryer Clean and Clear
It’s very important to always keep flammable items (cleaning supplies, paper products, etc.) away from the dryer. We all get busy and may inadvertently create dangerous situations, so consider this a reminder to be mindful about keeping the laundry area tidy.
Additionally, be sure to keep dryer vents free of blockages. Many do not realize that these vents need to be cleaned regularly, but preventing buildup can keep air flowing freely and prevent overheating. When your dryer isn’t running, check the outside exhaust for dirt and debris and have the duct system cleaned professionally on an annual or semi annual basis.
Use Your Dryer Correctly
Laundry can build up quickly, so it’s understandable that you’d want to get it done as quickly as possible. Overloading your dryer, though, can lead to trouble. Not only does it put your appliance at risk of breaking down (a preventable and expensive problem), but a dryer that’s working too hard can overheat and cause a fire.
For this reason (and many others), it’s better to avoid using your dryer when you’re not home or asleep. You need to be nearby and alert in case something happens. No one’s asking you to live in a state of panic, but it’s a good idea to only run major appliances when you can keep an eye on them. Also, consider storing a fire extinguisher in your laundry room in case you need it.
Benefits of Clean Air Ducts and Dryer Vents
As a responsible homeowner, it’s important that you schedule regular maintenance to ensure that your HVAC system is in proper working order. This includes having the air ducts and outdoor vents inspected and cleaned by a professional.
Additionally, a trained technician can check gas lines and connections for leaks or other signs of damage. Reach out to them right away with any concerns you might have. If you smell gas, however, don’t take any chances — leave your house and contact the fire department immediately. Gas leaks can be very serious or even life-threatening.
Here are some of the benefits of having clean air ducts and dryer vents:
- Reduced drying time
- More efficient HVAC system
- Lower energy costs
- Longer lifespan of your dryer and HVAC system
- Decreased risk of house fires and carbon monoxide exposure
W.G. Speeks has been serving homeowners in the Greater Richmond Region for more than 75 years. We offer a free consultation with our NATE-certified technicians and can provide guidance to protect your home and keep your family safe. Give us a call today. We’re here to help!