Understanding the Real Danger of Dryer Lint Fires

Lint traps can cause more home fires than you might expect, but having the right coverage can help you recover. Here's how.
Dryer lint

Home fires can stem from all kinds of sources, including the lint trap in your dryer. In fact, about 2,900 dryers in homes reportedly catch fire every year, causing about 100 injuries, five deaths, and more than $35 million in property damage losses. More than one-third of these incidents result from a failure to clean the dryer.

Fortunately, your homeowners insurance may be able to help in case of a sudden dryer fire in your home. An independent insurance agent can help you get set up with all the coverage you need. But for starters, here's a breakdown of dryer lint and home fires, and how insurance can help.

How Does Dryer Lint Cause a Fire?

Clothing dryers work by circulating hot air through a turning drum, where the wet clothes are placed. As these clothes tumble in the dryer, little fibers and pieces of debris from the clothing lead to the formation of lint, which mainly gets trapped where it's supposed to, in the lint trap. However, some lint makes its way through the dryer vent along with the moist air from the drying clothing. 

When a lot of lint builds up, it restricts the airflow from the dryer. Lint itself is highly combustible and can easily ignite. When a dryer vent is partially blocked by lint and other debris, the hot, moist air doesn't properly flow outside, which can result in overheating and fires.

What Insurance Will Cover Me after a Dryer Lint Fire?

According to insurance expert Jeffery Green, homeowners insurance covers fires in the home as long as they weren't intentionally started. Your homeowners insurance provides several helpful protections against many types of disasters. The core coverages found in most policies are:

  • Dwelling coverage: If your home's structure or dwelling got damaged or destroyed by a covered peril, including a dryer fire, your home insurance could help reimburse you for repairs or rebuilding costs. 
  • Liability coverage: If a third party filed a lawsuit against you for claims of personal property damage or bodily injury, your home insurance could help reimburse you for the legal expenses.
  • Contents coverage: If your personal property like clothing got damaged or destroyed by a covered peril like a dryer fire, your home insurance could help reimburse you for repairs or replacement costs.
  • Loss of use coverage: If you're displaced from your home as a result of a covered peril, your home insurance could help reimburse you for hotel costs and other additional living expenses, like takeout meals.

Ask your independent insurance agent for more details about the standard coverages provided by your home insurance and how they can help you recover after an incident like a dryer fire.


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Will My Property Coverage Cover a Dryer Fire? 

Green said that a dryer fire would usually be covered by your home insurance, but it’s important to note that claims can be denied for lack of maintenance. So in many cases, your property coverage under your home insurance would most likely cover a dryer fire.

Property insurance includes three types of coverage:

  • Replacement cost: This pays to repair or replace your damaged property at the same or equal value as it was before the damage occurred. 
  • Actual cash value: This pays for the value of the damaged property minus any depreciation.
  • Extended replacement costs: This pays over the typical coverage limit for your home if construction costs have increased, but there's usually a limit that the payment will not exceed.

Your independent insurance agent can help you review your homeowners insurance to further note how your property coverage can help cover a dryer fire. 

How Can I Eliminate the Risk of a Dryer Lint Fire? 

There are several measures you can take to prevent a dryer lint fire aside from ensuring your dryer is properly cleaned. These additional steps can help reduce your chances of being a victim of a dryer lint fire:

  • Making sure the dryer is installed properly
  • Regularly servicing your dryer
  • Checking that there aren't any flammable materials close to your dryer
  • Cleaning the lint filter before, during, and after every load of laundry
  • Using rigid or metal venting materials
  • Checking to ensure your vent pipe isn't restricted in any way
  • Never overloading your dryer during use
  • Checking your gas lines for leaks regularly
  • Always using the proper electrical plugs
  • Only running your dryer when you're at home

Taking a few additional cautionary measures with your dryer can help you prevent not only home fires, but also the need to file insurance claims and repair or replace your property. The extra time required to complete this checklist can be well worth it when you weigh the possibly dangerous and costly alternatives. 

Essential Home Fire Safety Tips

Practicing home fire safety doesn't end with proper dryer use and maintenance. There are many potential sources of home fires you need to be aware of at all times. If a home fire happens, all family members will need to know what to do and how to evacuate to get to safety.

Here are some helpful home fire safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Make sure to have working smoke alarms with battery backups on every level of the home, as well as inside each bedroom and outside every sleeping area.
  • Before an incident ever occurs, take time to familiarize your children with smoke alarm locations in your home, what they sound like, and how to react if one goes off.
  • Create a family plan of evacuation in the event of a fire, including two different ways to escape every room in the home, and where to meet up once you're all outside.
  • Create a list of emergency contacts and instruct all family members on who to get in touch with if you have issues meeting up together during a fire.
  • At least every six months, run your family through the fire evacuation plan again.
  • Teach every member of the family how to call 9-1-1 in case of a fire, and the importance of the "stop, drop, and roll" method.
  • Make sure your insurance is up-to-date and your coverage is optimized for fire protection.

An independent insurance agent can help you with the last step on this list. For the others, it's up to you and your family to learn and practice fire safety long before disaster ever strikes. Visit the Red Cross's website for more fire safety and prevention tips.

Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?

Independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.

Independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

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