Special Report: Dryer Fires
Gainesville, FL -- For many homeowners, this season's spring cleaning means dusting, sweeping, maybe even cleaning between the couch cushions.
But one vital cleaning service is often overlooked; one that could put you at risk of a fire in your home.
Dryer fires are the sixth leading cause of household fires in the United States.
The combination of lint, dust, and heat can create a tinderbox in your laundry room.
But the problem isn't your actual dryer, it's what's behind it.
Build up in the exhaust duct of the dryer can block airflow and prevent heat from escaping, causing fires in the ventilation or even the dryer itself.
Depending on your home, that ventiliation could stretch through walls, ceilings, and other areas not easily seen.
Combine that with a laundry room that's often full of chemical cleaning products and clothing, and now you have what was a fire in just your dryer that's spread to the laundry room and your house."
While fires are the biggest concern, a blocked vent can cause other headaches.
"It'll cause damage to your dryer, people don't realize that and go on with two or three cycles to get their clothes dry" owner of Chimney Sweeps of America LLC Stephen March says, "and then some people think it's the dryer so they buy a new dryer and they'll have the same problem when they install the new dryer"
Fortunately, finding out if your dryer could be clogged is simple.
"Turn the dryer on and go outside and look wherever that vent is coming out and look where the dryer is coming out, usually there's some little vent windows," Chief JoAnne Rice with Gainesville Fire Rescue says, "make sure that it's open, the air is coming out, it's flowing freely."
If it's not...March says an annual cleaning will set you back about $125, but it's well worth the cost.
"The damage to losing your property, possibly getting injured, possibly getting killed from a fire, you know that far exceeds the costs of having somebody coming in and doing that, its an important thing to make sure that it's clean to save your family and to save your own life," Rice says.
Most importantly, check to make sure all of your smoke detectors have batteries and are working properly, so if a fire does happen, you have time to get you and your family out of the house.
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