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Risk of Dryer Vent Fires: Separating Fact From Fiction

Posted by Josh Kennedy

Dec 27, 2013 12:57:00 PM

dryer vent cleaning Jacksonville FLHere at First Coast Home Pros, we take the prevention of dryer fires very seriously. It’s important to sort fact from fiction where dryer fires are concerned. There is a lot of information on the Internet about dryer fires and their causes. Some of this information is undoubtedly true, while some is simply false.

It’s been said that the use of fabric softener sheets can cause the heating element in your dryer to fail and potentially cause a fire. There is no evidence that suggests fabric softener sheets can cause your dryer’s heating element to fail. It is, however, proven that the use of liquid fabric softener has been found to add to the flammability of fabrics such as cotton, terry cloth, or velour.

Another online claim states that the use of fabric softener sheets will create a buildup of invisible film on your dryer’s lint screen. This alleged buildup prevents the water from flowing through the lint screen properly and creates a backup, which can also lead to a dryer fire. The claim further states that dryer owners should remove the lint screen and brush clean with a soap and water solution at least every six months. A thorough cleaning is always a good idea. These claims, however, can be misleading, and, even though, they contain some useful tips, they are not entirely accurate.

It is possible that after a long period of time fabric softener sheets can contribute to some waxy or filmy buildup on your dryer’s lint screen. Recent studies of this claim, however, have determined that the potential for this is very low. It is highly unlikely that this invisible buildup can lead to dryer heating element failure or any such fires.

More often, the problem isn’t with the dryer itself or due to the lint screen filling up with invisible buildup. The use of improper dryer vents and the buildup of lint collecting in them is a much more common problem. Using metal dryer vents can help reduce the risk of fires. Dryer ducts made of plastic or foil can cause buildup issues and are the most common cause of dryer fires.

Plastic or foil style dryer duct work can sag and allow lint to collect in the ridges or low places. Metal ducts, whether the solid or flexible type, are much safer because they don’t sag and less lint is likely to collect inside of them. If a dryer fire were to start a metal duct would better serve to contain a fire than plastic or foil type duct work. This lint buildup in your dryer duct work is combustible, so you wish to avoid allowing it to collect and potentially cause a dryer fire.

Regular cleaning should be a priority no matter what type of duct work you have installed on your dryer. Regular cleaning and maintenance will not only help prevent dryer fires, but will also extend the life of your dryer. You should remove the visible lint from the lint trap each time you use it. This will not only allow your clothes to dry faster, but you will save energy in the process.

If you are concerned about the buildup of film on your lint screen, there is no harm in brush cleaning it as often as you feel is prudent. Regular maintenance will keep your dryer running smoothly for years to come and First Coast Home Pros is here to help.

First Coast Home Pros technicians suggest cleaning all areas around your dryer where lint can collect including inside the dryer, underneath and behind your dryer where there is often a buildup of lint. It’s also a good idea to wash clothes that have made contact with gasoline or other combustible fluids at least two or three times to dilute these fluids as much as possible before subjecting them to the heat of your dryers heating element. Common sense and safety should always be top priority.

The reality of dryer vent fires is something you need to be aware of and take the necessary precautions against it happening in your home. If you are too busy to deal with this and other cleaning or routine maintenance tasks around your home, it could be a good idea to hire a professional cleaning service. First Coast Home Pros takes your safety and cleaning projects seriously.

First Coast Home Pros will provide experienced and professional cleaning for your dryer vents and many more areas in your home that may be overlooked as not being high priorities. The little things do matter. Take the necessary steps to avoid nasty surprises and issues like dryer fires that can disrupt your quality of life.

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Topics: Dryer Vent Cleaning, Maintenance, Home Improvement

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