Nearly 3,000 fires occur in America every year due to clogged dryer vents, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries in addition to millions of dollars in damages. However, protecting yourself from the possibility of a dryer vent fire is part common sense and part professional know-how. Check out these tips to help you avoid the dangers of dryer vent fires.

The Pros Know

The first—and best—way to avoid a possible dryer vent fire is to have your dryer vents installed by a professional. Otherwise the chances of a fire due to improper vent installation go up dramatically.

Ducts that Work

Using metal ducts instead of plastic or foil will also decrease the likelihood of a dryer vent fire. Both foil and plastic can catch lint in their ridges and sag, allowing even more lint to build up and block airflow, setting the stage for a fire.

More than a Spring Cleaning

Make sure to clean the dryer vent and vent pipe every 90 days, and keep the floor and walls around the dryer clean and clutter-free. And, of course, you’ll want to clean the lint screen every time you use the dryer. Failure to do so will increase the chances of a fire—in fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that the leading cause of all dryer-related fires in 2010 was failure to clean dryer filters, vents, and pipes.

Dry Responsibly

Don’t overload your dryer with too many clothes, which will make the unit hotter as it tries to compensate for the extra weight. If possible, purchase a dryer with moisture sensors rather than temperature timers, which will turn off the unit when the clothes are dry rather than at a set time. Also make sure you’re not drying any flammable clothing or clothing stained or treated with flammable agents, as both are serious fire hazards.

Keep the Sensors Sensitive

Dryers have sensors, usually inside the dryer and just below the door, that help monitor and regulate the unit’s internal temperature. These sensors resemble the letter “C” and are made of metal, and you should clean them periodically to keep them in good shape. Just a quick dab with a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton ball is all you need.

Clothes that aren’t drying completely on a normal cycle as well as a unit that gets hotter than normal during a cycle indicate that your dryer vents could be clogged. Protect your family and home from the very real danger of fires due to blocked dryer vents by seeking out the assistance of a professional dryer vent cleaning specialist.

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Sources: FEMA; National Fire Protection Association; US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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