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Every year, firefighters across the country react to around 13,820 house fires brought on by clothing dryers, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

About 27 percent of these fires is caused by an accumulation of lint, which suggests that not cleaning out your clothes dryer vent can set you up for a dangerous scenario that’s far more serious than the drop in efficiency brought on by constricting a dryer’s ductwork.

Some clothes dryers have actually indicators developed to alert you when lint has actually constructed up and obstructed the vent. Our clothes dryer tests have discovered that LG’s FlowSense and Samsung’s Vent Sensor discover totally obstructed vents but aren’t as proficient at identifying partly obstructed vents.

The exact same is real for the check-vent feature on Maytag and Whirlpool dryers.

Clothes dryer fires are accountable for 7 deaths, 344 civilian injuries, and $233 million in home damage yearly, says Marty Ahrens, a representative for the NFPA.

Provided these numbers, we asked CR’s professionals for guidance on decreasing your danger of a clothes dryer fire. Below, 4 basic best practices to make sure safety in the laundry space.

1. Tidy the Lint Filter

Not once a month, or perhaps once a week: “Clean the lint from the clothes dryer’s lint screen after every load,” says Richard Handel, the test engineer who supervises CR’s laundry appliance lab. “This assists avoid a fire, and it also assists your laundry dry faster.”

2. Replace Accordion-Style Ducts

Generally, clothes dryers are equipped with a 4-inch vent in the back, which homeowners or installers link to the exterior vent with a duct. But not all ducts will do.

If you see a plastic or foil accordion-style duct connecting your device to the vent, it’s a good idea to replace it. These are risky since they can droop, permitting lint to develop up at low points and trapping lint in their ridges.

Handel advises a stiff metal duct. “The smooth walls allow the air to flow, and likewise lower the accumulation of lint,” he states. “A versatile metal duct ought to be your second option.”

One other suggestion: Use duct connectors and metal clamps or foil tape to sign up with sections of duct instead of sheet-metal screws, which can catch lint and cause accumulation inside the duct.

3. Clean the Clothes Dryer Duct Annually (at Least)

If you discover that your clothes dryer takes longer to dry laundry than it utilized to, that’s a hint that there may be a blockage in the clothes dryer vent system. When you’re drying a load, go outdoors and look at the vent. Do you see or feel exhaust air? If not, the vent or tire duct may be obstructed with lint.

Start by detaching your dryer from the source of power. And if you have a gas clothes dryer, likewise shut off the gas valve near the dryer.

“Carefully slide the dryer away from the wall so that you can access the vent that’s generally in the back of the clothes dryer,” Handel states. “If you have a gas clothes dryer, take care not to overstretch or harm the gas line.”

Detach the duct from the clothes dryer, and vacuum both the dryer and the duct– as much as you can gain access to. Where possible, separate the duct into shorter areas for better gain access to, then reassemble and attach the duct to the clothes dryer. Make sure all joints in the duct are properly connected and held together with clamps or foil tape. Return the clothes dryer to its initial spot and reconnect the power.

While you’re at it, tidy behind the clothes dryer and beneath it– lint develops there, too. In winter season, check after windy weather or snowstorms to be sure that snow isn’t blocking the outside vent.

4. Handle Chemical Spots With Care

Clothes stained with gas, cooking oil, cleaning up representatives, or other flammable chemicals or compounds need special care. The Consumer Item Safety Commission recommends cleaning such stained clothes more than once to decrease volatile chemicals, then hanging to dry.

If you must utilize a clothes dryer, use the most affordable heat setting and a drying cycle that concludes with a cool-down period.

On the occasion that a fire does start, keep the clothes dryer door near to limit its oxygen supply– a fire requires oxygen to keep it going.

Customer Reports is an independent, not-for-profit company that works side by side with customers to produce a fairer, much safer, and much healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2020, Customer Reports, Inc.