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The dangers of tumble dryers

I keep reading about tumble dryer fires. Maybe we’re using them more at the moment because it’s been such a wet winter and we can’t put the washing out to dry, but they seem to be a significant safety hazard.

We’ve dealt with many fire insurance claims over the years which were started by a tumble dryer and the results can be very serious – particularly if you leave them running overnight or when you are away from the house.

Some tumble dryer manufacturers have issued warnings about their products, which we wrote about previously. But it’s not just these particular models which are causing fires and many fire services are issuing urgent safety advice.

One which has just appeared is from Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service. They say that users should look for warning signs which include a smell of burning, textiles taking longer to dry and dried items feeling hotter at the end of the cycle. You should also check if the external vent flap stays shut when the dryer is on.

They have issued some additional advice:

  • Always read and follow the manufacturer’s advice.
  • Never leave the appliance unattended or running overnight.
  • Never put rags or materials into the tumble dryer if they have been used to soak up flammable liquids.
  • Keep the dryer well ventilated, ensuring the vent pipe is kink-free, not blocked and not crushed in any way.
  • Never cover the vent or any other opening, and only use recommended vent pipes and not improvised ones.
  • Clean the filter after every use.
  • Only vent the warm air to the outside of the building.
  • Have the dryer serviced regularly by a qualified engineer.
  • Always have working smoke alarms and test them regularly.

But let’s hope we’ll be able to hang the washing outside soon.

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