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Tips to Prevent Dryer Fires in Your Business

In the News
If you search Google for ‘dryer fire business’, you’ll see news stories like these. Last month, in Petaluma, California, a fire that began in a clothes dryer caused $10,000 in damage at a uniform store. In February, a weekend fire that originated in a dryer caused extensive damage to a laundry business in Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 2014, a fire at an Australian day spa started when oily towels left in a hot dryer spontaneously combusted. More than 20 firefighters worked to contain the fire and the damage cost approximately $200,000. Here’s information on the safe storage and disposal of oily rags.

Statistics
Dryer fires are responsible for a significant number of damages, injuries, and deaths each year. There are approximately 15,600 structure fires, 400 injuries, and 15 deaths reported annually because of dryer fires. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), every year clothes dryer fires account for over $100 million in losses. In addition, dryer fires involving commercial dryers have a 78% higher injury rate than residential dryer fires.

Warning Signs
If you notice any of the following signs, your dryer may need service.

  • The dryer is producing heat, but the time it takes to dry a load increases.
  • After a cycle is complete, the clothes are still damp.
  • After a cycle is finished, the clothes are much hotter than usual.
  • The outdoor flapper on the vent hood remains closed when the dryer is running.

Lint Traps
The majority of dryer fires occur because of highly flammable lint getting caught in the vent and becoming heated to the point of ignition. Emptying the filter before each load isn’t enough to protect a dryer as they fail to capture all of the lint.

These cleaning and maintenance suggestions will help prevent dryer fires:

  •  Clean and empty lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer after every use.
  • After cleaning the lint filter, check closely for tears and rips. Replace damaged lint traps immediately.
  • Never put any synthetic substances such as plastics, foams, rubber, or any pieces of cloth that may have been used to clean any potentially flammable of combustible liquids into the dryer, even if they’ve been thoroughly washed.
  • The dryer exhaust pipe should be as short in length as allowable based on the location of your dryer. It should also be as straight as possible; limited bends allow for unrestricted airflow.
  • The American Household Appliance Manufacturers Association (AHAM) recommends the use of rigid aluminum, spiral-wound or steel duct aluminum flex hose. They advise against the use of white vinyl hosing.
  • Only run a dryer when someone is on-duty.
  • If the dryer is gas-powered, as opposed to electric, have it routinely inspected by a professional to ensure that both the gas line and connection are intact.
  • Keep combustible objects away from the dryer. This includes boxes, paper, chemicals, or anything else that acts an accelerant to fires.

Inspection Frequency
A dryer vent needs cleaning at minimum, once every year. It’s dependent on how much use the dryer gets. For facilities like salons, spas, and fitness facilities, the amount of towels washed daily is high. Consider the following:

  •  How much use does the dryer get used?
  • What’s the dryer vent like? Longer, curvier vents typically get more lint trapped in them than short, strait vents.
  • The age, model, and type of dryer your facility uses: full-size, single-unit dyers vent much better than stack dryers do. Older units typically vent worse than newer models, so the age is crucial in determining the amount of service a dryer needs.

 

Do you have any tips or related information you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you; please share them in the box below.

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