Dryer fires pile on damage and costs

Jesse Keough, First Choice Appliance
Jesse Keough, First Choice Appliance

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - You may not think much of lint but the meaningless material spit out by your dryer can cause big problems.  Each year in Hawaii and across the nation dryer fires combine to cause millions of dollars in damage.

While crawling underneath your house or climbing up on the roof to clean out your dryer vent isn't exactly the neatest job in the world, considering dryer fires average about $10,000 in damages it could be worth it to get a little dirty.

Washing and drying clothes has become a daily chore especially for families and all those loads can pile on the lint.

"The worst cases I've seen are when you pull out bird nests, rat nests, huge clumps, handfuls of lint," said Jesse Keough, First Choice Appliance, who has been working on appliances the past six years.

According to the US Fire Administration there are more than 15,000 dryer fires each year nationwide resulting in 15 deaths.  A 'failure to clean' is the cause of most of these fires.

Honolulu fire investigators can't say for sure what started a fire in Ewa last week but they do suspect it was the dryer.

"So you get heat coming from the dryer and you get this flammable lint and it's a recipe for a fire," said Keough.

A national campaign by Farmers Insurance highlights the problem by lighting a huge lint ball on fire with a flame thrower.  While the commercial is dramatic it does illustrate the point about the big hazard a little lint can become.  And it's more than just cleaning the lint screen after each load.

"Most people think oh I cleaned this every load and I'm good I did my duty and my dryer is free of lint but actually a lot of lint gets through here," said Keough.

Whether your vent goes through the wall or ceiling it's recommended you clean or replace it about every year.

All dryer setups are relatively different and the work can vary per job.  If you're not the do it yourself type you can call a professional. A job like this should cost around $100 to $120.

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