8 ways to prevent damage from clothes dryer fires

One fire is one too many. But what if thousands of fires could be prevented every year, simply with a little care and maintenance?

More than 15,000 clothes dryer fires result in hundreds of injuries and deaths, and nearly $100 million in damages annually. The good news is that there are eight measures you can take now to help protect you and your loved ones.

1. Clean the lint filter before drying each load of clothing. Adding heat to a clogged filter can cause a fire.

2. Disassemble the vent pipe and clean it periodically. Lint is combustible, and buildup will occur, which can act as fuel for a fire or cause your dryer to overheat.

3. Never use plastic vent or accordion-style foil piping. Instead, use rigid aluminum metal duct. Incorrect piping is one of the most common dryer installation errors and a code violation.

4. Do not place your dryer right against the wall. Many people push their dryers as close to the wall as possible, crushing the vent pipe and leaving no room for manufacturer-recommended clearances. A crushed vent pipe causes increased lint buildup, and heated exhaust from the dryer cannot escape.

5. Keep your dryer and the area around it as clean as possible. Clean behind and under the dryer where lint can settle.

6. Do not use a dryer to dry clothes or rags that have been soaked with volatiles like gas, turpentine, stains, or finishing oils. Wash the items twice and line dry them.

7. Do not leave the house or go to bed with the dryer running.

8. Mount an all-purpose fire extinguisher on a wall in your laundry room.