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Dryers can pose fire hazard if not regularly cleaned

Canton FD offers free home inspections to alert homeowners of fire hazards

CANTON, Mich. – Christine Skavery took advantage of the Canton Township Fire Department's free home inspections because she was concerned about her dryer vent being a fire hazard.

"You hear stories of fires starting in dryer vents and it's something in the back of my mind.  You don't know how much lint is back there and I would never want a fire," Skavery said.

Skavery moved into the home three years ago and had not cleaned the dryer vent since then.

Dryer fires are a real hazard and are usually caused by excessive lint build up that can block the flow of air leading to a fire.

Nichole Hamilton, fire inspector for Canton, said stove and dryer fires are the top causes of accidental fires in the home.

"A lot of fires happen because of dryers," Hamilton said.

The leading cause of dryer fires is failure to clean them according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Hamilton said homeowners should clean their lint screen before or after each load of laundry, and clean the exhaust vent once a year, or every six months if an excessive amount of laundry is done. She strongly recommends following the manufacturer instructions when it comes to cleaning and maintaining the dryer and vent system and says that information is often on the back of the dryer.

As for cleaning the vent system, Hamilton said, "You can do it yourself, but if you're not comfortable, I would get a professional to do it, especially if there is a longer run. Hers is a very short run. If it goes through walls, you can't see it, have someone do it because they have cameras and different devices that they can ensure that it is completely clean."

She also recommends metal ducts because the flexible ones made of foil or plastic can sag and lint can build up inside them.

Also, make sure nothing is blocking the exhaust vent where it comes out on the outside of your home.

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