Many businesses maintain on-site laundry facilities, from laundromats and hotels to apartment complexes, gyms and medical clinics. These commercial entities share something else besides laundry equipment: an increased risk of fire sparked by a very flammable substance. A substance so easily ignited, in fact, that campers use it for tinder: lint.

Fires caused by superheated lint inside ductwork and lint traps are surprisingly common. Thousands of these blazes cause an estimated C$43 million in property damage and 100 injuries annually. Dryer fires make frequent appearances in the news across North America. One recent lint fire closed a daycare. Another devastated one floor of an apartment building. A third destroyed a steakhouse restaurant. Fortunately, no one was hurt in these blazes but dryer fires can and do kill. 

“Lint and dryer fires are completely preventable,” says Caleb Brunz, Owner of Paul Davis Restoration of Greater Minneapolis and St. Paul, “through regular dryer vent cleaning. If the vent runs a long distance, clean it more frequently. And empty the lint collection device after every load. One added bonus? Operating costs often drop because a clean vent reduces drying time.”

Brunz urges commercial customers with laundry facilities to heed warning signs that vents need cleaning:

  • The dryer takes a long time to dry clothing.
  • The machine feels hot on the outside.
  • Clothing feels unusually hot.
  • The appliance shuts down unexpectedly during cycles.

Paul Davis also recommends common sense precautions during laundry processing: 

  • Ensure vent runs are smooth and straight and outlets are unobstructed.
  • Make sure warm air vents forcefully from outlets when dryers are operating.
  • Remove items as soon as they are dry.
  • Don’t overload dryers.
  • Be extremely cautious drying synthetic fabrics, foam materials or fabrics that produce large amounts of lint.
  • Never put materials that have contacted flammable substances into a dryer. Air dry these items instead.
  • Operate dryers with supervision. Never operate them unattended or when the premises are vacant.

If your commercial establishment experiences a dryer fire despite precautions, Paul Davis promises to arrive quickly and will be ready to handle any size loss.