The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that there are 2,900 clothes-dryer fires in residential buildings each year.
The majority of those fires are the result of lint buildup inside the dryer or inside the pipe that vents to the outside.
What can you do to prevent a possible dryer-lint fire?
• Clean the lint trap before each drying cycle. This simple maintenance step should be practiced with each load of clothes.
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• Make sure the pipe from the dryer vents to the outside of the house through a smooth-walled metal pipe. The pipe cannot be connected with screws that would protrude through and catch lint.
• Clean the dryer at least once every six months, or at a minimum once a year, by removing the front-access panel below the dryer’s door and vacuuming any lint buildup that is accessible. There are also two or more small openings on the lower backside of the dryer where lint can be removed.
• Make sure the built-in vent pipe on the dryer is securely attached to the smooth-walled metal vent pipe that extends to the exterior.
A short section of a flexible metal pipe is used for the connection. Most vent pipes have a hose clamp that can be tightened with a screwdriver or quarter-inch nut driver.
If the seal is loose, reseal it with metallic tape to improve the seal between the two pipes. When the dryer is pushed up against the wall, make sure the flexible metal pipe is not crushed or bent to restrict airflow.
• Check the vent pipe for gaps at joints and seams, and repair or replace the pipe as needed. Check pipes for excessive bending or sagging. Lint can build up at a bend or where the pipe hangs low.