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Angie's List Tips To Prevent Dryer Fires

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Does your dryer take one or more cycles to dry clothes? Does it get hot to the touch?

If you answered yes to those questions, ask yourself this: when was the last time you had your dryer vents cleaned?

Officials believe a recent fire at a home in Pine Township started in a dryer and caused thousands of dollars in damage.

"The dryer is designed to exhaust the heat and the moisture while it's drying. If that heat and moisture cannot get out of the dryer, then the dryer just sits there and keeps working itself, but it can't accomplish the drying, which then means the dryer works harder and heat builds up and that is what can lead to a dryer vent fire," vent technician Glen Mayfield said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are more than 16,000 fires in homes involving dryers and washing machines.

Most of those dryer fires were caused by lint and dust build-up.

"Clothes dryers are an appliance that make our lives easier but we often take them for granted, but we shouldn't. We need to maintain them and most importantly have their vents cleaned because if we don't the dryer won't run as efficiently and it's a fire hazard," Angie Hicks from Angie's List said.

Homeowner Brian Pinkins was surprised to see what a technician discovered during a cleaning of his dryer vent.

"He got out his tools and started to snake through our vent. As he was doing that, nothing was happening. He said he could feel a large jam. Well about five minutes later, a whole lot of dust and debris and dryer lint started coming out along with a bird's nest," Pinkins said.

"We asked consumers whether they left their dryers running unattended and many people said they hadn't even thought about that being an issue. One consumer in particular who has a family of seven said if she didn't leave it running while she was away from home she'd never get her laundry done," Hicks said.

Experts said you should never run your dryer if you're not home because of the risk of fire.

"I'm sure it was just a matter of time before something would have really happened," Pinkins said.

A cleaning typically costs between $100 and $150.

It can actually pay for itself in less than a year with the improved efficiency and less drying time required.


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