But don't let the court's decision blind you to the very real risk posed by laundry-related fires in this country. About 13,000 fires a year start in laundry rooms, resulting in 10 deaths and nearly $100 million in property damage, according to estimates from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Nearly 4,000 of those fires arise from lint buildup in dryer vents.
There are a couple of easy ways to reduce the chances of a dryer fire occurring at your home. First, use a rigid-metal dryer duct instead of a flexible-plastic or foil duct, and clean the lint screen on your dryer after every use. See your owner's manual for the specifics of your dryer.
For more advice on keeping your clothes dryer running safely and efficiently, read "Truths and Myths of Dryer Fires" and watch our video (above).
free buyer's guide to dryers and ratings of electric dryers and gas dryers (available to subscribers).
I followed all the recommendations including cleaning the dryer filter after each load and using metal instead of foil or plastic. Twice a year I would move the dryer and clean out the vent, even using a superlong brush to clean out the wall venting. Apparently the venting running through the wall was clogged farther along near the opening on the roof which caused the heat to backup into the dryer. Fortunately, I was home when I smelled smoke. I was able to turn the dryer off before I saw actual flames but the smoke damage ruined the clothes. I'm not sure what exactly burned but it was not in the clothes drum - it was either the wiring or lint accummulated inside the back of the dryer, a Whirlpool by the way. The metal back of the dryer has venting and through the vents you can see the heating element when it gets hot. I believe that airborne lint could enter through the venting and ignite. The ventilated plate in the dryer drum where the hot air enters gets hot enough to melt synthetics and probably could ignite lint if the heat were to build up from a blocked vent. Either of these could have happened in my case. I could envision where a fire is smoldering and opening the dryer door provides an air source similar to opening a door or window in a house fire.
We now have a smoke detector above the dryer and I never run the dryer when I'm not home or at night while sleeping. I'm fastidious about cleaning the lint screen and don't use the wall venting anymore. I also have a front-loading washer which extracts most of the water, cutting the drying time by more than 50% and I check the dryer mid-cycle as a precaution.
Because I survived a house fire as a child, I'm very wary of burning candles or using the fireplace. I never dreamed that using a dryer posed a hazard.
CR needs to include filter performance in their evaluation of dryers. I have suggested to CR for years that buyers need this safety information but the only guidance given is to use metal coil or metal ducts.
We have a five year old Maytag gas dryer and two children. The lint filter is always cleaned before every load. Religiously. The dryer is in the first floor utility toom, in a corner, and vents straight through the 2 x 6 wall with a straight, round, metal pipe that extends fully through, and about 6" beyond, the outer surface of the outside wall where a metal 90 degree elbow turns 90 degrees and extends about 18" to take the vent exhaust past the corner of the house.
After one year the dryer was taking longer to dry a normal load. I reached inside the outdoor elbow and found enough wadded up lint to fill a coffee cup. I removed the elbow and reached inside the straight pipe, through the wall as far as I could and pulled out a lot of lint. This alarmed me that so much lint was getting past the lint filter. Inside, I removed the entire front of the dryer. Not that hard, really. Below the lint filter, and in back of the lint filter, and along the right side of the dryer's insides, were large deposits of waddded up gray lint. It had to have been leaking around the edges of the lint filter despite the filter screens fairly good fit in the filter screen pocket and the fact that the filter did, and still does, remove a lot of lint from each load. Counting what I removed outside and inside, there was enough wadded up lint to fill a one quart container. After that the dryer (it has a moisture sensor) operated a lot better, taking less time with both cotton and heavy items coming out significantly dryer. Ever since and twice a year now, I remove the front of the dryer and clean the entire inside of the dryer and the entire vent system. Each time there has been signicant lint but nothing like the first time. We have never had a fire or even smelled anything hot but the potential for a problem is clearly there.
My dryer was not drying properly (Frigidaire Gallery). I regularly clean the lint filter after each load. Each year I clean the metal ducts. But, my brother said to actually open up the back vent and vacuum there. Also to open the front panel and get whatever lint was there - that it could interfere with the ignitor. I opened the back vent and saw that whatever paperwork/diagrams were charred. One segment of the wiring was melted together. I had had a fire and never realized it. But, there wasn't much lint in the back. I took the front panel off and was shocked. The area on the door coming from the lint filter to the fan was chuck FULL of lint. So much that I could take handfuls out rather then use the vacuum. The fan looked fine, but at the connection of the door and the fan the "seal" was not intact (why?) and the lint had gotten out and had also chunked up throughout the front. I'm guessing the motor overheated and the wiring sparked? Whatever, I was LUCKY. I've since read online of a number of other Frigidaire dryers that have done the same thing (one woman had 150,000 in damage). I'm replacing this dryer (not with a Frigidaire/Electrolux) and will go above and beyond the recommended cleanings by taking off the front panel and cleaning inside on the time changes (Spring and Fall). By the way, I shut off the gas and unplugged the dryer first.
I'd like to say thanks to the first posters for sharing their experiences. Very good information on checking the inside of the dryer.
My dryer vents straight out the back through a wall with a flexible duct that is very straight and less than 12" when the dryer is pushed into place. I routinely clean lint buildup in the outside flap that opens and closes with airflow. I'd like to use a straight pipe but need to be able to pull the dryer out to access the vent pipe.
My laundry area is in the 2nd floor hallway, and in the middle of the house so flexible metal duct work goes into the attic and across to the eaves where it is expelled below the roof, drying time can be very long so I am considering installing an inline vent fan, any thoughts?
1 Week ago my lg dryer caught on fire. I was lucky to be home at the time as was able to extinguish the fire.I was sad a scared that the 1 1/2 energy efficient dryer that I had spent so much money on had burned. I contacted the appliance repair service who had come out 2 months beforeand they stated they had not seen anything like it and that perhaps it had been faulty.I contacted LG who sent out a tech who stated after poping the top off that I had large amount of lint built up and that had been the cause of the fire. He said the unit could be repaired and that I should go after the appliance company. Long and short of it is I am a dryer abuser according to all three companies I contacted. What I dont understand is how as a consumer I would know that I had build up. I clear my vent every time I have a new vent added and the machine is only 1 1/2 years old. All I know is I am out a dryer , no one seems to be responsable. Please explain that to me . My previous dryer I had for fifteen years never had a problem and replaced it so that my new washer would have a matching dryer.
Last week my husband and I smelled smoke coming from the laundry room. We had never had any major issues relating to our dryer in the previous 7 years we owned it. To make a long story short, flames began shooting out of our dryer (a Frigidaire Gallery gas dryer). Fortunately my husband was able to extinguish the fire before it caused damage to anything other than the dryer (a total loss) and the clothes in it. The fire department noted the cause as "clothes in dryer caught on fire." Service people we have had out since informed us that we are supposed to take off the top and front of the dryer every 2-3 years and clean the lint on the floor, around the drum, and around the heating element to avoid lint fires. We'd obviously cleaned the lint tray and knew to clean the vent out of the house but had never heard this before. We learned many lessons from this incident - first and foremost, never leave your house with your dryer on! Had we done that, we likely wouldn't have had a house to come home to.
We own a Sony Bravia 52" TV, and while I was out the power cord erupted into flames and had my son not been there to see it and put it out with a fire extinguisher it would have certainly been potentially deadly. The power cord is the original cord that came with the TV, and on inspection by me after the fire it is of c.ourse burned, but also it looks like th cord is WAY too thin. Maybe that had something to do with it catching on fire. Anyways, this issue may affect others who purchased that model TV or other models where the power cord appears too thin.
We have an electric front loading clothes dryer and a periodically a piece of clothing will get stuck between the dryer drum and the front frame over the top of the door. Once we pull out or remove the stuck piece of clothing, there is a "burnt area" on the piece of clothing in a long narrow profile. We have not experienced any fire but it concerns me that this "first time event" of pieces of clothing getting stuck between the rotating dryer drum and the dryer frame may be a fire waiting to happen. I would guess that this happens about every third load. We purchased this dryer in 2001.
How can I find out which dryers have the most fires?