Vertex Mechanical’s HVAC, Plumbing & Electrical Blog

Clogged Dryer Vent Fires: Real or Fake

File it as a case of strange but true: every year in the US, thousands of dryer vent fires catch homeowners off-guard. Clogged dryer vents are the cause of these blazes — and they are one of the most unexpected fire hazards in any home. While the chances of your dryer catching fire are low, you still don’t want to take the chance of it happening.

In the hustle and bustle of modern life, a clogged dryer vent is pretty easy to ignore — but it can be a serious mistake. Learn how to know if you are unintentionally harboring a clogged dryer vent — and learn how to prevent dangerous dryer vent fires.

How Do Dryer Vent Fires Start?

The short answer: clogged dryer vents start dryer vent fires. There’s little more to it than that.

After drying countless loads of laundry, the dryer vent that connects your machine to the outside becomes packed full of lint and other laundry debris. This clogged dryer vent makes it hard for the super-heated dryer air to get to the outside. That trapped ultra-hot air can set the flammable lint ablaze, which can quickly spread and devastate a home.

As long as lint stays flammable and dryers use hot air (hint: these things will be true forever), this is an issue. However, there’s nothing inherently unsafe about your dryer. As long as the vent stays open, allowing the hot air to escape outside, your dryer is totally safe — and you’re protected from dryer vent fires.

Clogged Dryer Vent Warning Signs

clothes dryer with clogged vent

Recognizing the signs of a clogged dryer vent is one of the surest ways to prevent a dryer vent fire. If you recognize any of these signs from your own dryer, contact us immediately to take a look. The more warning signs you see, the greater your chances of the dryer catching fire.

  1. Clothes Take Longer to Dry — You know how long it should take for your dryer to do its job. If it’s taking WAY longer, that’s a prime sign of a clogged dryer vent.
  2. Burning Smell — A burning smell never signals anything good, does it? If you catch a whiff of something burning while your dryer is running, that might be a clue your vent is blocked.
  3. You Notice Debris Outside of the Dryer Vent — The dryer vent is meant to expel air to the outside, not debris. If you see lint and laundry debris around your vent, that’s an indication your dryer vent is so clogged that it’s spewing lint — clean that out ASAP!
  4. Dryer is Hot to the Touch — If your dryer becomes hot to the touch, don’t ignore it. You might be feeling the first warning sign of a big problem.
  5. You Don’t Remember the Last Time You Cleaned It — To prevent dryer vent fires, you should clean your system every year. If you know you didn’t do it this year and can’t remember the last time you did, that’s a sign it needs some attention.

Preventing Dryer Vent Fires

lint trap being cleaned

Preventing dryer vent fires is a simple matter of keeping the vent system clog-free. Here are the two main ways homeowners can stop clogged dryer vents:

  1. Clear Your Lint Trap Every Time — Your dryer’s lint trap prevents a lot of the laundry debris from making its way into the exhaust tube. However, if your lint trap is too full, it can’t do its job. Keep your lint trap clear to slow how quickly the vent becomes clogged. Make clearing your lint trap a part of your laundry routine.
  2. Clean Your Dryer Vent Once a Year — Since a clogged dryer vent is the main culprit, you need to clean it out every year to reduce the chances of the dryer catching fire. Whether you hire a professional or tackle the job yourself, make sure you clear out your dryer vent once a year.

Vertex Mechanical Can Clean Your Clogged Dryer Vent

While Vertex Mechanical is primarily known for performing the expert HVAC work homeowners need, we specialize in all of the systems that make your house a home, including the dryer. While the chances of a dryer catching fire are low, you still don’t want to take the chance, and we’re happy to help.

If you have any questions about whether you’re at risk for a dryer vent fire — or you simply want a professional to thoroughly clear your clogged dryer vent — give us a call.

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