Dryer fire causes heavy damage to Delaware residence

A dryer fire in Delaware caused more than $20,000 in property damage.

An accidental residential fire in Delaware resulted in no injuries, but it did leave a heavy financial toll that home insurance should help pay for.

On Oct. 5 in the city of Milton, fire officials say that a residence there caught fire around 9 a.m. due to the home's dryer lint trap being clogged, multiple news outlets reported, including The Associated Press. The Delaware State Fire Marshall stated the damage is estimated to be in excess of $20,000.

Fire officials stated that the blaze was brought under control shortly after authorities were made aware of it, roughly a half hour after it was reported to the local fire department. No one was injured or killed.

Homeowners may be surprised as to just how common dryer fires are in the United States. According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2006 and 2010, nearly 1 in 5 home structure fires stemmed from a dryer or washing machine. In 2010 – the latest year for which data is available – there were 16,800 non-confined or confined home structure fires nationwide. More than 50 individuals died as a result, close to 400 people were injured and damage costs totaled $236 million overall property losses.

Far and away, dryers are responsible for more fires in the home versus washing machines. Roughly 92 percent of fires in 2010 linked to clothes cleaning appliances stemmed from dryers, with washing machines accounting for 4 percent, according to NFPA data.

Dryer fires often linked with poor cleaning

The most common cause of dryer and washer fires is neglecting to clean them, based on NFPA statistics. Before loading laundry into the dryer, homeowners should be sure to remove all the lint that's on the trap. They should also take a look around the drum, as excess lint may have collected there as well that should be removed before starting the dryer up.

Another important component of dryer safety is staying on top of maintenance tasks. Typically, a dryer doesn't need any mechanical work until there is evidence suggesting that something may be going wrong. For example, if clothes are taking longer to dry than what's been typical in the past, this could be an indication that it needs some fixing. NFPA noted that it's best to have dryers serviced by a professional, who should have the skills needed to assess the problem and come up with a resolution.