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Dryer Vents: An Often Over-looked Potential Fire Hazard

Clogged dryer vent and fire safety photo for 401(e) blog

Dryer vents can become a fire risk if they are not cleaned regularly. Cleaning out a dryer’s vent in a home can sometimes become a task that is forgotten or not done regularly, but it is important to do at least once a year. Lint can build up in the vent blocking air flow, becoming a fire hazard. Plus, it makes the dryer work less efficiently.


Recently, 401(e) was at a home in Grand Forks and found a dryer vent that was clogged. The vent was completely clogged and when the lint was being taken out it came out as the same shape as the vent. The home belonged to Emberly, a homeowner in the Grand Forks area. Emberly had just recently moved into the home and it was unclear when the last time the vent was cleaned out. What ended up being done is that a new vent and hose was put on her home.


Emberly had this to say about the situation:


“Dryer vents are one of my biggest fears as I have heard many house fires starting from them…in fact I do not leave a dryer running if we are going to be leaving the house.


I appreciate the service and quick response your organization gave! And the vent matches the house now.”


The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires according to the National Fire Protection Association is a failure to clean them. Here are a few clothes dryer safety tips from Kelli Flermoen, Battalion Chief with the Grand Forks Fire Department:


    1. Have the dryer installed and serviced by a professional.
    2. Do not use the dryer without a lint filter.
    3. Make sure you clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Remove lint that has collected around the drum.
    4. Rigid or flexible metal venting material should be used to sustain proper air flow and drying time
    5. Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe is not restricted and the outdoor vent flap will open when the dryer is operating. Once a year, or more often if you notice that it is taking longer than normal for your clothes to dry, clean lint out of the vent pipe or have a dryer lint removal service do it for you.
    6. Keep dryers in good working order. Gas dryers should be inspected by a qualified professional to make sure that the gas line and connection are intact and free of leaks.
    7. Make sure the right plug and outlet are used and that the machine is connected properly.
    8. Follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions and don’t overload your dryer.
    9. Turn the dryer off if you leave your home or when you go to bed.


If you have not cleaned out your dryer vents lately, check them and make sure they are clean and lint is not blocking the air flow. It can reduce your home’s fire risk and help your dryer run better.