Prevent Fires in Your Home by Caring for your Washer and Dryer
According to the FEMA website, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. That's a startling number when you consider that proper maintenance and cleaning can prevent it from happening to you. Be good to your washer and dryer and those costly machines will be good to you.
Here’s how to keep your washer and dryer humming along safely and efficiently:
Before/After Every Load 1. Clean out dryer lint filter to maximize efficiency. Think about it, it is where air needs to flow, so if it is clogged, air won't flow and overheating (and eventually fires) will happen. 2. Dry the washer’s door and gaskets after using, and open the door on top-loaders to foster air circulation and prevent toxic mold from forming. 3. Always ensure that the washing machine is level and on firm footing. A wobbly machine can cause the drum to not rotate properly which can lead to leaking or metal rubbing and potentially ruin your machine. 4. Always use the proper type and amount of detergent for the machine and load. If it is an HE model, be sure to use the correct type AND amount of detergent for the machine. (Did you know that some machines cannot handle those pre-measured pods??) ALWAYS check your manufacturer’s recommendations. 5. Remove damp clothes from washers immediately to prevent mold or mildew buildup. (But if you're like me and you've washed the same load two or three times, add a cup of vinegar to the wash to remove the smell from the clothing and when you're done, spritz some vinegar to the empty machine and allow to air dry with the lid open/door ajar to help it dry out before doing another load.) Every Month 1. Inspect the dryer exhaust duct for crimps, obstructions, and unnecessary bends. Airflow is essential and you don't want unnecessary nooks and crannies for lint to build up and cause a fire. 2. Inspect washing machine hoses for tight fittings, bulges, cracks, and leaks. Burst washing machine hoses could spill hundreds of gallons of water an hour, flooding your home, and costing tens of thousands of dollars to repair and remediate. Tighten loose fittings (there are even youtube videos showing how to properly tape and tighten them-- and it is with plumbing tape, might I add). Replace hoses every five years; replace immediately if damaged. 3. Clean rubber gaskets and drums on washers and dryers with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. That gross gunky buildup could be mold or sludge preventing a tight fit, which in turns prevents unnecessary leaks. 4. Check and clean drain pump filter on front-loading washers. Consult your owner’s manual for location.
Every Three Months 1. Wash dryer lint filter with detergent or a mixture of water and vinegar to remove invisible chemical residues that can restrict airflow.
2. Run a cycle in the washer with vinegar only or use those cleaning pods specifically designed for washers to clean the drum and remove any other buildup in the machine.
Every Year 1. Remove and clean out the entire exhaust duct line from dryer to exterior. Clogged ducts cause thousands of house fires every year, with an average of about $10,000 worth of damages per fire. If you are unable to completely remove it, find a video on youtube on how to snake it or vacuum it out.
2. Check your machine's manual for properly adhering to the annual maintenance schedule.
More Tips 1. Replace vinyl dryer exhaust ducts with metal ductwork to reduce fire hazards. 2. Replace rubber washing machine hoses with braided-metal ones to reduce the risk of bursting. 3. To prevent rusting, fill nicks and scratches on the outside of machines with touch-up paint. Extra Reading? https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/clothes_dryers.html