Insurance Insights: Dryer fires cost millions each year

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 22, 2002


We can help reduce insurance costs by eliminating preventable claims. It pays to take a pro-active approach to your personal health, auto and home safety.

Each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association, about 15,000 house fires start in clothes dryers, causing nearly $70 million in damages.

The most frequent causes of these fires are improper ventilation and/or poor maintenance, which allows lint to accumulate. When lint covers heaters, switches, or dryer motors, fires can result.


A. Do not leave the dryer running when you are not at home.
B. Clean the lint trap after every use.
C. Do not dry oily rags in the dryer.
D. Do not operate the dryer without a lint filter.
E. Ensure the dryer is plugged into a suitable outlet for its electrical needs.
F. Keep the dryer area free of combustible materials, such as clothing and boxes.
G. Ventilate adequately. The dryer duct should vent directly outdoors – not into an attic, crawl space or indoors.

Metal dryer ducts are preferred. Plastic ducts can collapse, causing blockage and lint build-up within the dryer.

Also, plastic ducts may melt or ignite.

Follow the manufacturers’ suggestions on the length of ducting to use. Appliances are tested and certified according to certain specifications.

Check your owner’s manual for more information.

Once a dryer has accumulated “mileage,” consider hiring a professional to clean lint build-up and debris off heaters, switches and the dryer’s motor.

Prevent dryer fires. Paying attention to what may seem ordinary is well worth the effort.

Do not become a dryer fire statistic.

MIKE WILLIAMS is a State Farm insurance agent with an office in LaPlace.