DRYER DANGERS: Preventing A Fire At Home

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Up to 15,000 fires a year are blamed on an appliance you use everyday.  Nationwide, those fires result in about 10 deaths.  Putting your dryer on your spring cleaning list can prevent a fire and save you some money.

Most of us know we should clean the lint screen on the dryer, but it only catches about 70-percent of the lint.  The rest accumulates in the dryer itself and the dryer vents.  A typical dryer vent collects a thick layer of lint in just a year.

"And so you can imagine trying to breathe through this," says Gary Gallagher, owner of Central Iowa Duct Cleaning.  "That in essence is what the dryer is doing, is expelling its breath.  Any construction is just like you're putting your foot on the throat of the dryer."

A 25-percent blockage in the dryer vent can double your drying time and decrease the efficiency of the dryer dramatically.  Worse yet, it could cause a fire.

"What happens is, the fire starts in the dryer, but this becomes fuel," says Gallagher, pointing to a grey pile of lint on the floor.

It doesn't matter if the dryer is old or new, front loading or top.  They are all susceptible to lint build up and fires.  The fix is relatively easy and inexpensive, considering the consequences of not maintaining and servicing your dryer.

Gallagher's services will cost you about a hundred bucks.

"Now for that it's not just vacuuming out the vent, it's taking everything apart, taking the dryer apart, cleaning inside the case so the heating elements and everything are clean."

It's a small price for a dryer that runs properly, and for peace of mind.