Dryer fires occur every day. Just look at any of the advertisements for dryer vent cleaning since they all use the same statistics from a decade ago. But dryer fires are generally not the whole house engulfing inferno they used to be. And the reason is simple. Dryer manufactures got tired of buying people new houses when the dryer caught fire and have now taken significant steps to limit the potential for fire. After all, the fire generally isn’t caused by a faulty dryer design but rather the homeowners lack of general maintenance.
Let me explain. Your Clothes dryer is the one appliance that is very dependent on how it is connected into your home. Because the dryer requires very large quantities of air passing through it to dryer your clothes, that warm moist air needs somewhere to go and that is where the dryer ducting comes in. If this ducting isn’t properly maintained, meaning kept clean of large quantities of lint, periodic inspections to ensure it is working properly, then you dryer isn’t able to work its best. And poor drying of your clothes is only the annoying part of this lack of maintenance. The real problem occurs when a fire does start inside the dryer and all you do is smell smoke.
A properly maintained dryer and dryer ducting system will actually allow for small fires to occur inside your dryers cabinet and you won’t even know about them. In a well designed and maintained system, any fire that starts inside the dryer (fires will not start in the ducting as there is no ignition source) will either extinguish itself, or will simply run the vent to the outside leaving only small bits of evidence it ever happened. In a system that isn’t so well designed or maintained, well the photo up top shows what can happen,
This customer had been using the dryer when she smelled something burning. The reason for the burning was the dryer vent had been clogged with lint due to it having never been cleaned since the home was built some 10 or so years ago. This slows the airflow and allows lint to deposit within the dryers cavity. Lint being a particularly combustable substance easily burns when met with an ignition sources, namely the dryers burner assembly. Fortunately as I stated above, the dryer put itself out by design and the damage was limited to the dryer itself.
But the truth is dryer fires happen everyday and in order for you and your family to stay safe, it is imperative to keep your dryer and dryer ducting maintained with some routine cleaning and inspections.