Why Do Dryers Catch On Fire?

I hope you are reading this before your dryer is on fire.  I’ve realized that as I do work here in the San Antonio area many people don’t realize that they should have their dryer and dryer exhaust checked yearly to prevent this issue.  But maybe you just wanted to know how this happens..  Well this is why…

Why Dryers Catch On Fire

Simply put, it’s lint build up.  Every time you dry your clothes and you take the filter out you pull a sheet of lint off of the filter.  This filter helps you not accumulate lint build up as quickly so always keep it clean.  However over time lint will build up in the interior of your machine.

Here look at this one I recently worked on… do you see all the lint here?  This a Whirpool Duet about 8 years old.

A potential fire hazard!

A potential fire hazard!

While this particular model is not notorious for fires the potential danger is here.

By the way the most common models that will catch fire are Whirpool dryers.  They are the cheaper dryers that are usually sold as a set with regular Whirpool top load washers.  You will know you have one if you can remove a panel from the back usually with about ten screws.  These dryers have heating elements that when they break can drop pieces of a hot element on to lint that has been building over the years.  Whirpool dryers can also be marked as Estate, Roper, or Kenmore so be especially careful with these brands.

How To Avoid This Problem

First of all do your part.  Every dry cycle empty the lint filter even if it’s not much on it.  Second, once a year have a chimney sweep check your vent and exhaust for obstructions.  One way you definitely know it’s time to have the exhaust checked is your dry times are longer than usual.  Even in a two story house with a vent going up through the roof you should not dry clothes longer than an hour.

There may be bird nests or just a load of lint sitting in your exhaust!  Chimney sweeps have special equipment to handle this problem.  A good chimney sweep will have a blower to blow the lint out from one side as he runs a brush through the other side.  Make sure that any chimney sweep you use has a blower and a brush with extensions that will go all the way through your exhaust vent.

So like I said a yearly check up is always good preventive maintenance but at the very least if you experience long dry times definitely get someone to look at it asap.

If you need your dryer cleaned you can always call the SuperTech and we will make your dryer look like this…  This isIMG_1610[1] after I replaced a bad heating element on this dryer.  The customer had experienced long dry times prior to it failing so it is possible the exhaust accelerated the failure of the element.  I know you get busy in your life…I am always busy!  But take the time to keep this problem out of your life.  Many people will unfortunately leave home with the dryer running and that’s when this problem strikes.

In Summation…

I hope I have helped you understand the weight of this issue.  It doesn’t matter what type or brand of dryer you have you should always have it checked once a year for lint build up or blocked exhaust.  Take the time to have a little maintenance done and save yourself a lot of trouble.


If you have any questions please leave them below, thank you!

Ket Lilly

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