Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dryer Safety - Works for Me Wednesday

This week, I am participating in Works For Me Wednesday (WFMW). Normally it is hosted by Kristen at WeAreTHATFamily, but she is in Kenya this week, blogging for Compassion. Which is truly amazing and inspiring and gut wrenching. Go take a look at what she’s been up to in Kenya. But back to Works For Me Wednesday – hosted by RocksInMyDryer this week.

Dryer Safety works for me. Since we just had a small dryer fire and are so very thankful that it remained small and contained in the dryer, I have realized by talking with friends that so many people are taking a very big risk with the way they are using their dryer. After all, we are all busy in our lives and we like to multi-task and get things done more efficiently without realizing we are compromising safety. Please read this and be sure to tell your family and friends. Fires claim lives every day and most are easily prevented. Although there are many, many fire hazards around most homes, I am only posting today about DRYER FIRES. The first four are risks that we were taking that I hadn’t realized. The rest are just additional helpful tips that I want to share because I love you all!

And what better time to go over all of this than now? With this weekend being when we set the clocks forward, please take the time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors and test the detectors. If you are on a tight budget like me, perfectly good and reliable batteries are $1 at most dollar stores.
  1. Only run the dryer when you are awake. A lint or motor fire would likely grow beyond the containment of the dryer before your smoke detector(s) would wake you. Smoke is thick and dangerous. This is not campfire smoke we are talking about. It does not smell good. It is rancid and full of chemicals from everything that is burning. It burns your throat and lungs and you can die just from smoke inhalation. If you are sleeping, you are awake when a fire starts, you may even smell the smoke when the fire is still inside the dryer and be able to turn off the power to the dryer and evacuate the house without harm.

  2. Only run the dryer when you are home. If it were to have either a lint or motor fire, the fire would grow beyond the dryer before anyone outside would know and call the fire department. Your pets would die and your home would be ruined.

  3. Be sure to have a working smoke detector in the utility room or where ever your dryer is located. Because smoke rises, this will be the first smoke detector to be activated. If your dryer is in the basement, put a detector down there and also at the top of the stairs. Be sure to test these by having someone down there test it while you are in your bedroom. Will you hear these during the night? If not, add more along the various routes to your bedrooms. This is one of the few times when less is NOT more. More (smoke detectors) is better!

  4. If you suspect the dryer is on fire, do NOT open the door to shut it off. Unplug it or turn the knob to turn it off; opening the door can feed the fire with the increase of fresh air. Obviously if you see flames, don’t do any of this – just grab your kids and get out!

  5. Clean your lint filter every time you either load or unload the dryer. If you have helpers with your laundry, train them to empty the lint filter, too. Lint fires are even more common than motor fires. If the lint filter isn’t clean, then new lint doesn’t have anywhere to go and will build up in places that get hot. It doesn’t take fire to start fire, it takes heat to start fire.

  6. Check your dryer’s exhaust pipe. Where does it vent? Outside? You want your dryer vest to be as close to the outside wall as possible. You also want that exhaust tubing to be as flexible and as short as possible. The longer it is and position of corners rather than curves will provide more places for lint to collect. Keep these to a minimum. Vacuum from the outside to clear it out at least once a year. If you can’t clean it out thoroughly, then change that tubing once a year.

  7. If you can afford professional vent cleaning ($35-$100 depending on where you live.) If you cannot easily clean your exhaust/vent part of your dryer’s lint system, then hire a professional. They will vacuum it out and may even replace that exhaust tubing.

  8. Do not overfill your dryer. If your dryer is too full it will not dry efficiently and will put more wear and tear on the motor to completely dry your laundry.
If you find that your dryer is taking 2 or more cycles to completely dry your laundry, then you may want to have it serviced. It could just be that your setting is low, but it could be that the motor is wearing down. I usually dry all but towels, socks, and underwear on a low heat setting to avoid shrinkage, so I do usually put the load through 2 times for complete drying. However, I know that is normal for how I use my dryer. When I dry on high heat or on auto dry, I know that typical behavior for my dryer is 1 cycle for complete drying. If you notice that it is taking longer than usual, then have it looked into and be prepared to replace that dryer before a fire. Don’t wait for a reason to replace it, like I typically do.

And, finally, if you smell something burning but do not have smoke accumulation, then investigate quickly! If you have major appliances running, be sure to check those. If you see flames or have smoke accumulating, grab your kids and get out! Let the well-trained staff at the fire department handle the rest.

Being safe works for me. To see what works for others, be sure to check out RocksInMyDryer this week and then we're back to WeAreTHATFamily next week.


  1. Not to put the blame on the hubs, but you should see how LONG our dryer exhaust tubing is... when we had our chimney swept, I also had the dude look at our dryer - he was shocked at how long it was and how it snaked around and said we needed to trim that down. Wellll, that was a few months ago. SOMEONE said he could do it easily, no problem. I personally am scared to do it on my own, but I just might have to!!

    As you probably know, MckMama is / was also in Kenya for Compassion, so I have read some of her posts and have seen those pictures... "wow" is all I can say.

  2. Thanks for this reminder. I've been meaning to clean out the exhaust for a while now.

  3. You should not use flexible foil venting it is a fire hazard. For more tips you can go to we are the experts. We clean repair and install dryer venting for a living.