The Hows and Whys of a Clothes Dryer Fire
A clothes dryer works by forcing hot air through a turning drum. Wet clothes placed in the drum are then dried by moving hot air. It is possible for a full load of wet clothes to contain as much as one and a half gallons of water. Lint, consisting mostly of small fibers from the clothes and debris in or on the clothes, is created from the clothes as the clothes tumble in the drum. While much of the lint is trapped by the dryer’s filter, lint is also carried through the vent system along with moist air. Lint is a highly combustible material that can accumulate both in the dryer and in the dryer vent. Accumulated lint leads to reduced airflow and can pose a potential fire hazard. In addition to the accumulation of lint, blockage in dryer exhaust vents also can occur from the nests of small birds or other animals or from damages to the venting system itself. A compromised vent will not exhaust properly to the outside. As a result, overheating may occur and a fire may ensue.