Top 5 Causes of Dryer Fires and How To Avoid Them

7 people die every year from dryer fires. Fire departments respond to an average of 13,820 house fires every year that started with a dryer causing approximately $233 million in property damages annually and about 344 civilian injuries. The good news is all this can be prevented.

Here are the top 5 causes of dryer fires and what you can do to avoid a disaster in your home.

  1. Failure to clean (32%)

One third of all dryer fires start because of a failure to keep it clean. There are three parts to your dryer you need to check frequently for lint buildup to keep your dryer breathing properly and clear of flammable material.

    • Lint screen
      • Clean the lint screen every time you use your dryer either before or after use. The lint screen may be at the top of you dryer toward the back, or on the front just inside the door. Clean this screen. Every. Single. Use.
    • Duct
      • The duct carries air from the dryer to the vent in the exterior of your home, either directly through a wall or via your home’s ventilation system. Ideally, hook your dryer up with a smooth metal duct. Most common are the ribbed foil ducts which can trap dust and lint in the folds and should be checked at least every 3 months for any obstructions. Never use a plastic duct that can catch fire or a home-made solution with screws that can snag lint and cloth. These are a major fire hazard!
    • Vent
      • The vent outside your home can become clogged from lint and dust just like the duct but is also vulnerable to elements from the outside world. If a bird has nested in your vent, your dryer is at risk! Make sure your vent has a covering that swings to allow airflow from the inside. If you notice your dryer taking longer to dry clothes and your duct is clear, check the vent for any blockages.


2. Mechanical Failure (27%)

If you notice any changes in the performance of your dryer be sure to get it checked! Never run a dryer that is experiencing mechanical issues. Get a professional to perform any repairs to keep your dryer in good working condition or check YouTube for tutorials on simple repairs you can try yourself. Local appliance stores like Appliance and Mattress Center in Columbus, Ohio, can help you test components and match them to make sure you get the correct part for your appliance.


3. Electrical Failure (16%)

Make sure you have the correct power cord for your dryer and your outlet. Dryer cords come in 3-prong and 4-prong and while they may resemble power cords for other appliances these may not be safe to use with your dryer. Your best bet is to buy a new power cord the same time you replace your dryer. When electrical problems arise be sure to call in the professionals.


4. Heat Source Too Close to Combustibles (6%)

Resist using the area around your dryer for storage, especially of any substances that may be flammable like paint thinner or lighter fluid. Likewise, avoid putting anything in the dryer that might be soiled with something flammable. Thoroughly wash out any combustible substances before putting these items in a dryer.


5. Equipment overloaded (3%)

Leave at least 6 inches clear from the top of the drum when filling the dryer with clothes to avoid over-burdening the appliance and its components. For more about overloading your laundry appliances check out this blog about just that.


Don’t let your laundry appliances become a hazard. Following these simple steps can help you live a long happy life with healthy and safe appliances in your home.