The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) issued a special report examining the characteristics of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. The report, Clothes Dryer Fires in Residential Buildings, was developed by USFA’s National Fire Data Center and is based on 2008 to 2010 data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).
According to the report:
An estimated 2,900 clothes dryer fires in residential buildings are reported to U.S. fire departments each year and cause an approximately 15,600 structure fires, 400 injuries, 15 deaths and $211 million in property loss. Dryer fires involving commercial dryers have a 78% higher injury rate than residential dryer fires.
Clothes dryer fire incidence in residential buildings was higher in the fall and winter months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
Failure to clean (34 %) was the leading factor contributing to the ignition of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
Dust, fiber, and lint (28 %) and clothing not on a person (27 %) were, by far, the leading items first ignited in clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
84% of clothes dryer fires in residential buildings were confined to the object of origin.
There are several section that make up the pathway through which warm, moist air (and the lint it carries) travels in order to vent properly. The one you see and access most easily is the lint screen. But the lint laden air also bounces around a pathway inside the machine before it makes comes to the back of the dryer. There it starts what is perhaps its longest run through a vent pipe or flexible hose to the external exhaust cover.
The code then allows for certain exceptions based on manufacturer’s recommendations, but their intent is clear. The path should be as straight as possible, as smooth as possible, and made of rigid material wherever practical.
The IRC says the length of the exhaust duct should not exceed 25-30 feet. And where there are 45 or 90 degree turns, the length should be reduced by 3 feet and 5 feet, respectively. Vents should be as straight as possible, making allowance for turns, which restrict airflow.
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