Check your dryer before it catches fire

Even though a dryer has a lint screen to trap the lint from the clothes, over time, a large amount of lint makes its way past the screen. This lint gets trapped within the dryer itself in the blower housing, on the blower impeller, within the internal ductwork, and the surface of the motor, controls, and heating components. Lint then continues on to the vent pipes, outside damper, exhaust hood that connects the dryer vent to the outside.

When the dryer is running, the lint can get wet and stick to passing surfaces. In addition, if screws were used to join exhaust pipes together, the lint can get caught on the screw projections within the pipes.

If the dryer was incorrectly ducted with flexible plastic or foil ducts, the inside can quickly become plugged with lint due to the rough surface of the corrugated pipes. Only rigid metal pipes with smooth internal surfaces or UL-listed metal flexible pipes should be used for dryer venting. Always follow the dryer manufacturer’s venting recommendations.

As the air passages and connected vent pipes become plugged, the airflow decreases and can cause the dryer to overheat. Lint near the gas or electric heat source in the dryer can easily catch fire and involve other nearby combustibles. Inspecting and cleaning the dryer and vent pipes on an annual basis will help prevent the dryer from becoming an NFPA statistic.

Fire Prevention Tips:

  • Make the appliance safe by shutting off (unplugging) the electricity and gas to the appliance
  • Thoroughly vacuum-clean the entire motor/belt (underside) compartment of the dryer
  • Locate and remove the blower impeller cover to vacuum clean the impeller and housing
  • Brush, clean and vacuum the internal ducts that are part of the dryer itself
  • Remove and clean the inside of all vent pipes connected to the dryer
  • Replace any plastic or foil flexible ducts with smooth wall metal pipes or metal UL listed, flexible dryer connectors
  • Inspect and clean the exhaust damper on the outside of the house
  • Verify that the outside damper moves freely and is not stuck or missing
  • Verify that there is no screen on the exhaust damper where lint can get caught
  • Verify that the exhaust discharge hood is a full-ported exhaust size to not restrict airflow

Keeping the dryer venting system clean not only reduces the chance for a dryer fire but also allows the moisture from the clothes to exhaust faster. Keeping the internal duct passages as wide open as possible allows the dryer to work more efficiently to reduce your home energy costs and speed drying times.

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© 2021 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by HSB in writing, no portion of this article may be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way. This article does not modify or invalidate any of the provisions, exclusions, terms or conditions of the applicable policy and endorsements. For specific terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable endorsement form.

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