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Can You Leave Your Dryer Running When You Leave The House?

Will it Start a Fire?

Turn off clothes dryer before leaving houseSee if this sounds familiar: You're getting ready to leave the house, but the washing machine buzzer just went off and you have to get the wet clothes into the dryer. You quickly move them from the washer to the dryer, set it for 50 minutes, then head out of the house.

Unfortunately, most people don't think twice about doing just that. Celina Rosiles of San Antonio, for instance. After tossing a load of towels into the dryer, Celina and her boyfriend left for work. About an hour later, she got a call at work. Her house was on fire!

Although no one was injured, the fire caused $60,000 in damage and there was smoke damage to 90% of the house. Cause of the fire: Lint in the dryer vent line that ignited and spread to the laundry room. Celina considers herself lucky. No one died.

So, sure, you can leave your dryer running when you leave your house. But should you?

The Biggest Fire Hazard in Your Home? That Would Be Your Clothes Dryer

Every year, more than 15,000 house fires are started by lint trapped in dryer vent lines igniting. In most cases, these dryer vent lines are the flexible vinyl or Mylar foil-wrapped lines, which are themselves highly flammable. Within 10 to 15 minutes, an entire laundry room can be engulfed in flames.

Even if you stay in the house until the dryer cycle is done, a lint-clogged dryer vent can still be a hazard. Overheated lint inside the vent can smolder long after the dryer has been shut off, then ignite and spread flame along the exhaust line and into your dryer—which is why going to bed with the dryer running is also a pretty terrible idea.

The photo to the left shows why it's so important to have clean dryer vent lines. These Madison area homeowners were lucky all they lost was their clothes dryer and the clothing inside. If they had left their dryer running while they went out to run errands, it's likely their house would have burned down.

Two Easy Ways To Prevent Dryer FiresDryer Fire Madison Wisconsin

1. Have your dryer vent line cleaned on a yearly basis. If you do a lot of laundry (more than 5 loads per week), you should up that schedule to twice a year. Fire departments across the country recommend routine cleaning of dryer vent lines to reduce the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by blocked dryer vent lines.

2. Have any vinyl or foil-wrapped vent lines in your house replaced with rigid, aluminum vent lines. Dryer manufacturers now warn against using anything but rigid metal venting due to the risk of lint clogs and fires in vinyl and foil covered vent lines. These materials tend to sink in on the spirals supporting it, creating nooks and crannies where lint can readily accumulate. Also, modern building codes specify aluminum dryer vent lines.

Anything less is just too risky.

Yearly Dryer Vent Cleaning Your Best Defense Against Dryer Fires

A yearly cleaning of your dryer vent line is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your home against dryer fires. In Wisconsin, only one company is dedicated solely to dryer vents: Dryer Vent Wizard of southeast Wisconsin. In addition to cleaning vent lines, we also install them, re-route them and repair them.

Dryer Vent Cleaning Also Reduces Wear on Your Clothes Dryer

One of the most obvious signs of a dryer vent line clog is that it takes more than one drying cycle for your clothes to dry. Although your clothes aren’t getting dry, your dryer is actually running hotter than it should—which is readily apparent when you touch the outside of your dryer. Besides wasting electricity/gas, this can also cause electronics in your dryer to fail, reducing the service life of your dryer.

Long story short: If you haven’t had your dryer vent lines cleaned in more than a year, it’s time.


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Contact the Dryer Vent Wizard of Wisconsin Nearest You:

Northeast Wisconsin: Fond du lac, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Kewaunee and the Fox Valley Counties. 920-644-3797

North Milwaukee: All locations north of Highway 94 in Dane County, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Dodge counties. 262-757-8368

Southeast Wisconsin: All locations south of Highway 94 in Dane County, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha counties.  262-312-1991. For property managers and condo associations, call 262-501-5240.

Contact our Wisconsin dryer vent cleaning service today for scheduling and pricing information.

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