There are several factors that contribute to household fires caused by the overheating of clothes dryers. Based on several incident reports recorded by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the risk is higher for clothes dryers that were purchased five to ten years prior. Here is a brief look at the documented household fires and its correlation to the age of the clothes dryer.
0-3 Years After Purchase
For fairly new clothes dryers, the most common reason why a fire or burning smell occurs is due to lint build-up near the heating element. The lint gets burned as it comes in contact with the heating element, thus, emitting a burning smell. Owners often do not know that lint can build-up in other places aside from the lint filter.
3-5 Years After Purchase
At this age, the lint build-up in clothes dryers often reaches the dryer drum itself. Most incidents reported regarding clothes dryers within this age range involved burned lint in the dryer that causes damage to the drum. Owners say that the dryer often has a clean dryer vent, filter, and exhaust duct but they didn’t know that lint could get stuck in the drum as well.
5-10 Years After Purchase
Lint build-up at this age will already reach the cabinet and other areas within the dryer. When lint catches fire, the damage is more extensive. In fact, some incidents reported that the damage affected the control board, drum, cabinet, and harness. Owners report that these incidents occurred after they had the dryers serviced.
10+ Years After Purchase
For clothes dryers aged 10 years or more, lint build-up has been found to reach the area underneath the drum. Some incidents report that the dryer catches fire or shoots flames from inside. Owners report that they clean their dryer, including the vent and exhaust pipe, regularly but were unaware that the lint could build up anywhere, including underneath the drum.
Lint will build up regardless of the age of the clothes dryer. The only difference is where the lint builds up within the dryer. The older the dryer is, the more extensive the required cleaning process should be. As the clothes dryer ages, cleaning should not be limited only to the filter. It should also include the exhaust duct, the dryer vent, the cabinet, the drum, and even under the drum. This is to ensure that no dry lint would burn within the dryer as it operates. You can consult or hire a pro to perform dryer vent cleaning in your home if you have no time for it or not sure how to go about it.