My insurance company sent out this newsletter to discuss dryer fires. The improper material used
for the venting system on dryers is a common inspection problem that clients encounter in their purchases.
Your dryer could very well cause a fire—but you can stop one before it starts.
By: Ashley Weber
Laundry is part of life’s weekly grind, but did you know that dryers cause roughly 15,500 home structure
fires, 29 deaths, 400 injuries and $192 million in direct property loss each year?1 What’s more,
most dryer fires happen in the winter.2
The most common cause of dryer fires
is failure to do a thorough cleaning. Because a lint trap is not a foolproof method for catching all the fuzzy stuff your
dryer produces, lint can gradually build up and catch fire in the heating element or exhaust duct.
Further compounding the problem is the fact that many people now install dryers outside
of their basements. This typically results in dryer vent pipes being much longer. Those longer vent pipes have a greater
likelihood of being twisted and turned to accommodate the structure of the home—and that creates spaces for lint to
Kevin Sippy, a property adjuster in ERIE's
Wisconsin Branch, inspects about five dryer fires every year. One particularly bad one happened when a Customer laundered
an item containing a type of rubber not meant to be dried at a hot temperature. When she turned the dryer to high, the
material combusted and caused a blaze that destroyed $44,000 worth of property.
In another instance, a Customer suffered $200,000 of property damage from a fire that started after
she took her laundry out of the dryer. That Customer washed towels that had been soaked in a sizable amount of sanitizing
solution. She then placed the towels, which still had traces of the sanitizing solution, in the dryer. When the towels
dried, they ended up spontaneously combusting and causing a fire that burned through an entire floor.
“We literally had to gut the house,” says Sippy, who changed his own laundry
habits after that fire. “Now, I never dry anything higher than the low setting—I’d rather take a little
longer to dry my clothes than burn my house down.”
Tips to Prevent Dryer Fires A little maintenance and awareness can make
a big difference when it comes to preventing dryer fires. Read on for nine proven preventive tips.
1Source: NFPA's Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines,
John R. Hall, Jr., September 2012