Preventing clothes dryer fires

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Of all things, lint could be the fire hazard hiding in your home.

Fire departments across the Piedmont see clothes dryer-related fires every year -- multiple times a year.

“We go on an average of about 10 dryer fires a year, which causes [an average] of $44,000 worth of structure damage annually,” Greensboro Assistant Fire Chief Dwayne Church said.

In the current fiscal year, crews in Greensboro have responded to six clothing dryer fires.

“The main reason is very simple – [it’s] lint buildup,” Church said.

The highest response over the last 10 years was during the 2009/2010 fiscal year when the department responded to 16 clothing dryer fires.

Within that same period of time (the last 10 years), there have been two civilian injuries and one fatality.

Doug Hodgson, owner of ABS Pressure Cleaning and Air Duct Cleaning, cleans dryer vents professionally.

He says people should be mindful of the fact that cleaning the filter in the dryer is not enough.

“It’s true that the filter in the dryer collects most of the lint, but there’s always a little bit that bypasses the filter and can accumulate inside the duct,” Hodgson said.

It’s recommended that your dryer is placed against an outside wall so there is a short run.

For these dryers, it may be easier for someone to clean without professional help simply by removing the flex duct from the back of the dryer and then using a brush or vacuum system to remove the lint.

However, if the dryer is located in a more interior portion of the home, or the dryer vent runs through an attic, a professional may be needed to use equipment/cables that can extend to those areas.

The Greensboro Fire Department recommends cleaning your dryer vents and the area around your dryer twice a year at the same time you change the batteries in your smoke detectors.