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Dryer Vents


Clothes dryer fires account for 15,600 structure fires annually. Improperly maintained dryers can be the source of fires. Fires, casualties and injuries could be prevented with proper awareness and good practice regarding dryer maintenance and safety precaution.

Clothes dryer fires account for 15,600 structure fires annualy. Improperly maintained dryers can be the source of fires. Fires, casualties and injuries could be prevented
with proper awareness and good practice regarding dryer maintenance and safety precaution.

Possible Causes of Dryer Fire

  • Accumulation of-lint, both in the dryer and in the dryer vent.
    • This reduces the airflowduring a drying cycle and creates a highly flammable fuel source.
  • Blockage in dryer exhaust due to nests of small birds or animals.
    • This prevents the dryer vent from exhausting properly to the outside.
  • Bends in the venting system.
    • Dryer vent exhausts should vent directly outside the house. Trends in new construction homes have longer dryer vents that contain sharp turns and bends. This makes it very difficult to drive lint out of the vent.
  • Use of flexible plastic or flexible foil dryer hose between the dryer and the vent.
    • Plastic is very flammable and can act as additional fuel for fire. Flexible vents can easily sag and allow lint build up that can catch on fire.

Dryer Problem Symptoms

  • Clothes take longer than usual to dry.
  • Clothes feel hotter than usual at the end of the cycle.

Proper Dryer Maintenance

  • Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer regularly.
  • Disconnect, clean, and inspect the dryer duct and venting every year, or hire a professional company to clean the dryer components.
  • Keep small birds and animals from building nests in the dryer exhaust by installing proper protective covering over the outside opening of the vent
  • The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends to allow for adequate airflow.
  • Use rigid aluminum or steel duct or spiral-wound aluminum hose instead of flexible plastic or foil hose.

Keeping your dryer ducts in good condition will reduce the risk of fire, prolong the dryer's lifespan, increase your dryer's efficiency, and save you on energy bills.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814
Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires
CPSC Document # 5022
Updated June 2003

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1998, clothes dryers were associated with 15,600 fires, which resulted in 20 deaths and 370 injuries. Fires can occur when lint builds up in the dryer or in the exhaust duct. Lint can block the flow of air, cause excessive heat build-up, and result in a fire in some dryers.

To help prevent fires:

  • Clean the lint screen/filter before or after drying each load of clothes. If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle or drying requires longer times than normal, this may be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked.
  • Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct periodically. Check the outside dryer vent while the dryer is operating to make sure exhaust air is escaping. If it is not, the vent or the exhaust duct may be blocked. To remove a blockage in the exhaust path, it may be necessary to disconnect the exhaust
    duct from the dryer. Remember to reconnect the ductinq to the dryer and outside vent before using the dryer again. Have a qualified service person clean the interior of the dryer vent periodically to minimize the amount of unt accumulation.
  • Clean behind the dryer, where lint can build up. Have a qualified service person clean the interior of the dryer chassis periodically to minimize the amount of lint accumulation. Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter.
  • Replace plastic or foil, accordion-type ducting material with rigid or corrugated semi-rigid metal duct. Most manufacturers specify the use of a rigid or corrugated semirigid metal duct, which provides maximum airflow. The flexible plastic or foil type duct can more easily trap lint and is more susceptible to kinks or crushing, which can greatly reduce the airflow.
  • Take special care when drying clothes that have been soiled with volatile chemicals such as gasoline, cooking oils, cleaning agents, or finishing oils and stains. If possible, wash the clothing more than once to minimize the amount of volatile chemicals on the clothes and, preferably, hang the clothes to dry. If using a dryer, use the lowest heat setting and a drying cycle that has a cooldown period at the end of the cycle. To prevent clothes from igniting after drying, do not leave the dried clothes in the dryer or piled in a laundry basket.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's fax at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at

Clothes Dryer Venting Safety

Lint and additional debris can build up in your clothes dryer vent and may cause your dryer to exhaust at less than optimum efficiency. This creates potentially hazardous conditions including carbon monoxide intrusion and the possibility for exhaust fires. If a gas clothes dryer is improperly vented or the exhaust duct itself is blocked by lint or debris, carbon monoxide can be forced back into your living space.

When a certified technician inspects and cleans a dryer vent, they also verify that the correct type of duct is in use. For example, plastic transition ducts (joining the dyer to the wall) should be replaced with metal duct, because it is non-flammable, unlike plastic.

Annual dryer exhaust vent inspections (also known as dryer exhaust duct inspections) are more necessary than ever before due to the complex construction of homes built today. Newer homes te-nd to-have-dryers lceeted-eway-frem an outside-watt ifi--6athroefFrs, kitchens and in hall closets which is convenient, but potentially dangerous from a safety standpoint. These new locations mean that dryers tend to be vented longer distances and vents are generally installed with more bends to accommodate the extended path they must take through the home. As a result, dryer ducts are harder to access and this additlonallength creates more places where lint can collect and animals and birds can hide.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians® (C-DET) perform dryer vent inspections on an annual basis to ensure efficient operation of your clothes dryer system. Certified Dryer Exhaust Technicians have passed an extensive exam on the proper inspection and maintenance of dryer vents, including applicable codes and standards relating to these systems.

In addition to these safety considerations, annual clothes dryer exhaust inspections by a CSIA Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician® can also increase the efficiency of your clothes dryer and decrease the wear on your appliance:

Appliance Efficiency
A clean exhaust duct prevents heat, moisture and, in the case of gas clothes dryers, carbon monoxide from being trapped in your home" When this type of spillage occurs, energy, natural resources and time are all wasted because your appliance works too hard and runs longer than necessary.

Wear on Your Clothes Dryer
If your dryer takes twice as long to dry clothes as it should, the number of loads that it will dry in its lifetime is cut in half. When the dryer runs at higher than designed temperatures, the Life of your clothes dryer decreases even more. This can lead to the heating element burning out or a fire could ignite as a result of overworked safety controls.

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