Why you need to keep your dryer clean

Why you need to keep your dryer clean

It’s highly flammable, tinder-dry, and can be a disaster waiting to happen. Lint from household dryers can and has caused house fires.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) is urging people to clean their dryers of the fluffy grey stuff after every use.

FENZ community risk manager Lorna Biggam has been fighting and investigating fires for more than two decades and said it is tragic that something so simple could cause the loss of a family home.

As part of a demonstration for Seven Sharp, the fire crew at Ōtāhuhu Fire Station set fire to some lint collected from clothes dryers. The lint caught fire within seconds, and acrid smoke rose from the grey pile.

Biggam pointed a thermal imaging camera at the fire and winced as the temperature reached more than 450°C.

Dryer lint can easily catch fire, says FENZ.

“It’s what we call a fine fuel, so it ignites easily,” he explained.

Biggam has seen the results of dryer fires.

“It’s devastating. Someone lost their home because of something as simple as not cleaning out the lint tray. It’s tragic,” she said.

Home fires can often be prevented if the right steps are taken.

Inside the station’s laundry room, the clothes dryer was working its magic on some towels. Biggam stopped the cycle and turned to the thermal imaging camera again.

“What we saw outside was the lint ignite at a temperature between 120 and 150 degrees. If we stop the dryer now, we can see the temperature rise to about 150 degrees.”

The clothes dryer was at the same temperature that the lint trap ignited.

“(Fluff) ignites very easily. It has an oxygen-rich consistency, so once it comes into contact with fire or gets caught in fire, it goes out very, very quickly.”

The main recommendation is to clean the dryer of lint after each use. Do not overload the dryer; allow it to complete the full cycle to cool down. Also, make sure there is enough space around the dryer for ventilation.

Insurance company FMG said Other appliances also need special attention, especially in winter.

“Our house is full of risks,” says Abby France, head of advisory products at FMG.

According to FMG statistics, more than 25% of home fires start in the kitchen.

‘Watching while you cook’

“One of the key things is ‘watch while cooking,'” France said. “Make sure you’re not cooking unattended.”

Even small appliances such as slow cookers need care. France recommends making sure they are on a fireproof surface and not on a wooden chopping board or tea towel that could catch fire.

According to FMG, 25% of fires are due to faulty wiring and electricity.

France said anything that heats or cools should be plugged directly into the wall.

She also suggested having an escape plan rehearsal during these school holidays, which includes setting off the smoke alarm so children know the sound and what it means.

People living in rural communities should record their Rural Address Property Identification Number (RAPID).

“Your RAPID number is how we find your home on a rural property when you call 111,” France explained.

Biggam said it is essential to get out and stay out if you need to dial 111 in the event of a fire.

“Get everyone out of the house. Leave the property, call 111 and do not enter. Do not go back in to look for personal items or pets.

“We want to know that everyone has safely evacuated that property.”