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Dryer maintenance can help prevent fires

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August 31, 2015 - It is all too easy to throw a load of clothes in the dryer and walk away without a second thought. Unfortunately dryer fires caused by a lack of maintenance or care are becoming increasingly common.

Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service has been dispatched to a number emergency calls involving residential dryers recently. Statistics from the Ontario Fire Marshal indicate dryer fires accounted for three percent of all residential fires across the province in recent years.

One of the most common causes of dryer fires is the lack of maintenance. Dryers work by forcing hot air through the drum that air carries lint with it. When lint traps aren’t cleaned as often as they should be, the resulting build-up in the screen and other areas can cause the dryer to perform poorly, operate at elevated temperatures and possibly overheat-with dangerous consequences. Vent systems must also be checked and cleaned for the same reasons.

Dryer Vent Installation

  • Read the dryer manufacturer’s instructions before installing the vent. Determine the straightest and most direct venting path to the outdoors to reduce the likelihood of lint accumulation in bends or elbows
  • Use rigid or flexible ducting for venting which is preferred to other duct products. Plastic or metal foil ducts are prone to kinking, sagging and crushing which leads to lint build-up. Plastic is also prone to ignition and melting.
  • The male ends of the duct should face the direction of the air flow. Exhaust vents should not be connected with sheet-metal screws or other fastening means which extend into the duct. Metal foil tape to seal the joints is the preferred method.

Do:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendation in the Use & Care book regarding the safe use of the dryer.
  • Inspect and clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry.
  • Regularly inspect the air exhaust to ensure it is not restricted and the outdoor flap opens when the dryer is operating.
  • Turn the dryer off if you leave home or when you go to bed.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in the laundry room if using a natural gas or propane dryer.
  • Ensure there are working smoke alarms on every storey of the home and outside sleeping areas.
  • Ensure a Carbon Monoxide alarm is located outside the sleeping area in the home if a fossil burning appliance is in the home or if there is an attached garage

Do Not:

  • Exhaust the dryer indoors.
  • Dry materials or fabrics that have been saturated by chemicals, oils or gasoline (e.g. mops and fabrics saturated with wax, flammable solvents or vegetable oils).  Even after washing, these substances can ignite during the drying cycle.
  • Dry natural or synthetic rubber, rubber coated sneakers galoshes , foam pillows or any garment with foam padding (e.g. blouses with shoulder pads, bras, bicycle shorts)Dry garments that have been cleaned with dry-cleaning fluid.

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For more information please contact:

Ron Woolfrey
Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service
Fire Inspector /Public Education
705 324 5731 Ext 586

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