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Understanding the Risks of Unclean, Obstructed Dryer Vents

Watch a brief ABC News Chicago report on the severe risks associated with unclean, obstructed dryer vents.

In this video, ABC News Chicago highlights a critical yet often overlooked fire hazard in our homes— The risks of unclean obstructed dryer vents. According to the report, dryers are second only to stoves when it comes to causing house fires, but these fires are largely preventable.

The report features firsthand accounts from families who have experienced the shock and danger of dryer fires. One family shares their harrowing experience of a dryer fire that started while they were home, allowing them to prevent a total disaster. They had always been diligent about cleaning the lint trap, yet they still faced this frightening situation.

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates an average of 12,800 home dryer fires per year, resulting in 10 deaths, 360 injuries, and $211 million in property damage annually. In Illinois alone, there were 273 dryer fires last year.
Experts in the video emphasize the importance of regular dryer vent maintenance. They recommend checking and cleaning dryer vents once a year and replacing flexible vents every couple of years. Simple actions you can take like cleaning the lint filter after every load and paying attention to warning signs, such as the dryer taking longer than usual to dry clothes, can significantly reduce the risk.

For more extensive cleaning, professionals use specialized equipment to clean dryer vents from the outside of the home. While you can handle some maintenance tasks yourself, if your dryer shows any hazard lights or is struggling to dry clothes, it’s best to call a professional.

A homeowner in the report shares how his vent had not been cleaned in five years, leading to a significant lint buildup. Another homeowner was surprised to learn that his exterior vent, protected from animals, still required cleaning after ten years.
The video concludes with a critical safety tip: if you ever see your dryer smoking, leave the door shut, turn it off, and call 911 from outside. Opening the door can fuel the fire with oxygen, making the situation worse.
This report serves as a vital reminder to all of us to regularly maintain our dryer vents and stay vigilant about potential fire hazards. By taking these precautions, we can keep our homes safe and prevent tragic incidents.

All credit to ABC News Chicago