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Dryer Fire from Lack of Maintenance


The US Fire Administration reports that from 2008 to 2010, fire departments responded to an estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. These fires resulted in an annual average loss of 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. As it has been for many years now, an important emphasis has been put on dryer vent cleaning. Some Homeowner or CO-OP Associations will even require that this be performed on a consistent basis & proof provided. Further than that, the dryer should be installed with code compliant dryer venting material while maintaining the appropriate length so the dryer can properly exhaust. There are code allowances and different manufacturers with have different requirements. This is true. It's all true. The problem in my opinion is where does the fire start? It starts inside the dryer itself. When you only clean the dryer vent, you have only solved half the problem.

Anthony Mechanical HVAC & Appliance LLC bases in the Herbertsville section of Brick Township, NJ. Over the course of many years servicing the Jersey shore communities in Ocean & Monmouth County New Jersey, we often get requests for an appliance service repair that involves diagnosing a dryer with a burning smell. Now there are several reasons a dryer can make a burning smell but the one we are focusing today involves a lint fire. Sometimes the lint builds up so much that there is a blanket formed on the bottom of the dryer. It only takes one flicker of the flame to kick out and spread quickly. Sometimes it stays contained within the dryer. Sometimes it travels to the venting and that's how you get your dryer fires that can do so much damage.


A homeowner can take steps to keep a dryer clean in between dryer vent cleaning. The number one action includes cleaning the lint filter after each use. Also, most box stores will sell a lint cleaning brush to remove any lint built up inside the filter housing. While the homeowner can take steps to prevent fires in between dryer vent cleaning, much more action is needed.

As a general rule of thumb, whenever we perform a dryer repair, the dryer interior cabinet is taken apart and thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed even if the repair we are performing does not require such action. It is a policy because when's the next time someone is going to clean the inside of the dryer? The answer is probably never. It only takes a few extra minutes to take the time to remove the lint.

There is an important sidenote that emphasizes the importance of proper dryer venting. Throughout the years of service calls, it is duly noted that the shorter the dryer venting the less buildup you would typically find in the interior bottom cabinet of the dryer. The brand and model matter too. Some manufacturers products effectively build us less lint than others and it's pretty consistent too.

Anthony Mechanical HVAC & Appliance LLC does not offer dryer vent cleaning services but we would perform a service call to clean the interior cabinet of the dryer. Personally, I think both services should be performed on a consistent basis. From what I have seen over the many years of appliance repair, both vent cleaning and dryer cabinet should be a requirement or at the very least a recommendation.


Unfortunately, a homeowner will not know if there is a blanket of lint lurking around the inside of the dryer. Here are some of the ways you can tell if your dryer vent is clogged:

  • Your dryer is taking longer to dry than usual

  • You have to turn the dryer on more than once for one load of clothes to dry

  • The dryer cabinet feels hot when you touch it

  • The clothes have a funny odor or burnt smell

  • The electronic control is acting up or you may see evidence of moisture

  • Some models may have an indicator that the vent is blocked

Besides the burning smell you may find when you open the dryer, the above indicates a blocked vent but not when the dryer interior is dangerously packed with lint. Homeowners are usually shocked to find out about this. Cleaning the lint filter has almost lulled most people into a false sense of security.


Years ago, and not that many years ago, brands like Whirlpool, Kenmore and Speed Queen would have a bottom panel you could flip down and access the bottom the dryer for maintenance. Even Maytag would give an option to take off the front cover without disassembling the entire dryer. Unfortunately for reasons unknown, I am not aware of any brand currently that allows this option. This is a case where the new way is not always better as some manufacturers have now made it a decent expense of time to maintain the cleanliness of the dryer. Maybe they will go back but I sure doubt it.

Anthony Murgolo

Anthony Mechanical HVAC & Appliance LLC

Brick NJ 08724

NJ HVAC Master Contractor#19HC00098900

(732) 840-3500

Anthony Mechanical HVAC & Appliance is located in the Herbertsville Section of Brick Township New Jersey. We are a local small business that specializes in residential major home appliance repair & HVAC repair. Customers are welcome to call at any time if they have any further questions or would like to schedule a service call.

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