Dryers are one of the leading causes of house fires—they cause approximately 16,000 fires every year. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that failure to clean dryers regularly or properly is the number one factor in these dryer fires. To combat these fires, the NFPA has provided safety standards to both consumers and dryer manufacturers. The recommendations to tenants, residents, and homeowners include:
- Cleaning the lint filter before or after each use—DO NOT operate the dryer without a lint filter
- Check that the outdoor lint flap is opening during dryer use
- Clean lint out of the vent pipe once a year.
- It may be necessary to disconnect the exhaust duct from the dryer to remove blockage in the exhaust. Remember to reconnect the ducting to the dryer and outside vent before using the dryer again.
- Take special care when drying items covered in flammable chemicals (gasoline, cooking oils, etc)
For more information, Section M1502 of the International Residential Code (IRC) lays out specifications on proper exhaust protocol. Some of these specifications include:
- Dryer exhaust vents must terminate outside the building, you cannot blow your dryer vent into an attic or crawlspace.
- The regulation also specifies that you are not to use screens at the outdoor vent termination since they collect lint and eventually lead to blockages.
- Vents must be constructed of smooth metal ducts, fastened without screws. Vents cannot be longer than 25 feet—if you must install bends, reduce the 25 feet limit by 5 feet for every 90-degree bend.
Follow these tips and pass them on to your neighbors, residents, and/or tenants and mitigate these dangerous, costly fires.