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Prevent Fire Damage in the Laundry Room
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Clothes dryers are a perk many of us take for granted. Located in most homes, they allow us to complete the drying process for clothing, towels, and sheets, sparing us the inconvenience of having to go out to laundromats for such a purpose. Unfortunately, they are also the cause of more than 20,000 house fires and millions of dollars in damage every year.
Eliminating Fire Risk in the Dryer's Lint Trap
Fortunately, the risk can be successfully minimized through regular maintenance and cleaning. Lint builds up in the machine over time and repeated drying cycles. In addition to being combustible, lint also blocks up ventilation outlets, increasing humidity levels and decreasing drying capacity.
Lint removal is an easy fix in order to prevent laundry room fires. Cleaning the lint trap should be done before each load, and the screen may need to be removed and washed every now and again to keep the unit as clean as possible.
Lint may also become lodged in the various ventilation outlets within the dryer and a dryer lint brush may be required to access some of these hard to reach areas. Lint may also build up in the hose running from the machine to your wall. At least once per year, loosen the hose and use a vacuum to remove as much lint as possible to prevent buildup.
In some cases the hose may become crimped or crushed, effectively destroying the capacity for adequate ventilation. Lint builds up, along with the temperature, and the result can be destructive. An aluminum flexible duct is the preferred option for best efficiency and fire hazard reduction.
Other Causes of Fire in the Laundry Room
Fires may also be caused in the laundry room by trying to dry clothes that have been soiled by flammable materials, such as gasoline. Wash the clothes as many times as it takes to get as much of the dangerous material out of the fabric, and then dry for an extended period using the coolest possible setting.
Overloading the dryer may also contribute to a fire risk, as heavy loads impede proper ventilation, increase temperatures, and may cause ignition. Dried clothes that are not promptly folded may also present a risk, as superheated fabrics left in a pile or basket (or other close quarters) may cause spontaneous combustion.
Also, too many people make the mistake of using their laundry room to store flammable materials, such as paint, paint thinner, or stain removers, all of which my ignite at high enough temperatures. Make sure these items are stored in their own space, preferably a well-ventilated one.
In the event of a dryer fire, contact your local certified fire restoration provider. Available 24/7 and offering same-day emergency service in most cases, these companies exist to clean up the damage caused by laundry room fires or other similar problems and return your home to its pre-loss condition.