It can often feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to get everything done.
On top of working, cooking, cleaning, you also need to find time to do laundry and get it dry.
If you are in the habit of line drying or you have the outdoor space to do so, then this cuts down time you need to be around, as you can let the weather do the drying for you, unless it rains.
However, if you use a tumble dryer to dry your laundry, then is it possible to leave it running either while you go to work, to the shops or even while you sleep?
Most advice you will see is to never leave a tumble dryer running unattended. Leaving appliances like this running poses fire risks which happen fairly frequently in the states as a result of this. This means it’s a bad idea to turn the dryer on before going to work or going to sleep.
In this piece we’ll look at why you shouldn’t leave your dryer running and tips to avoid safety risks and other appliances that you shouldn’t leave running.
Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Dryer Running
As mentioned above, there is really one large problem with leaving your dryer running while you’re not there and that is the fire hazard.
Granted this can also happen while you are there, but the end result will be much worse if you’re not.
A fire which starts from a dryer can spread very quickly but there are two main causes.
The first cause is a clogged vent line. As you do laundry loads, the vent line will eventually build up with lint, bits of clothing and other stuff (maybe tissues or paper that’s been left in pockets).
This will cause the vent line to slowly become less effective at siphoning the hot air from the inside of the dryer.
If this happens too much, then there will be a significant build up of heat, which can lead to a fire.
The other cause is the material that the inside of these vent lines is made from.
Older dryers have vent lines where the interior is wrapped with vinyl or foil. This is great for insulation and keeping the heat in the line.
The problem, though, is that these materials are soft enough to sink into the outer spirals that support it.
This is perfect for small spaces and nooks to form in between the rings of this outer structure. These spaces are perfect for lint to get caught and start to cause clogs.
Not only will this make your dryer work harder to dry your clothes, costing you more money, but it will also cause a large risk of fire.
There are several things you can do to avoid these kind of risks with your dryer.
Tips to Avoid Safety Risks with Your Dryer
As we’ve seen, the biggest cause of fire with tumble dryers is clogging of some kind in the vent lines.
One of the easiest ways to combat this is to regularly clean your lint filter.
This is usually located in the lower part of the door rim, if you have a front load dryer.
This is where lint and fluff from your clothes is meant to be collected. If it gets full from use, then that lint has nowhere to go but out the back of the dryer into the vent line.
Removing the lint filter either after or before each load of laundry and scraping the lint off will help your dryer in general, but also reduce the risk of fire.
If it needs a more thorough clean, you can rinse it off with some low pressure water from a showerhead.
Some of the more intensive solutions are also to do with the vent line.
Cleaning the vent line: Generally this only really needs to be done once a year, especially if you’re regularly cleaning the lint filter.
Inevitably, though, some lint will start to accumulate in the vent line and this is why it needs to be cleaned.
This can be done by an engineer and can be scheduled for yearly. If you use the dryer more than 5 times a week then twice a year will be better.
Replace vinyl or foil lining in vent lines: As we saw above, these materials are not good for the vent lines in tumble dryers and increase the risk of fire.
Rigid, aluminium vent lines are now the standard that are required by modern building codes as these do not provide any nooks for lint to get trapped.
Dryer manufacturers warn against vent lines made from anything but rigid metal, with aluminium being the most commonly specified.
The best defence against any fires occurring in your tumble dryer is to have the vent line cleaned yearly.
This will also reduce wear on your clothes dryer which means that your dryer won’t take as long to dry your clothes.
If there is a large clog in the vent line, then the dryer has to work harder and longer, which will cost you more money in energy bills and take up more time in your day.
Other Appliances You Probably Shouldn’t Leave Running
A tumble dryer isn’t the only household appliance that you shouldn’t leave running unattended.
Portable electric heaters can also cause fires if left running for a long time, or if they happen to be particularly dusty. The dust can start to smoulder on the elements, which can lead to a fire.
Washing machines are generally a lot safer in terms of fire, due to the large volume of water used, but they can sometimes fail, leading to small floods if left alone.
The same can be said for dishwashers that are left running.
The risks of this happening are quite low, but there are a lot of annual reports of it happening in the states.
So in summary, you can leave the tumble dryer running unattended but it’s generally not advisable due to the risk fires from faults or clogs in the inner workings.
Luckily it’s easy to lower the risks of fire by regular cleaning and scheduling in the larger cleans of the interior of the vent lines.
If you’re around and a fire breaks out you’ll be able to maybe do something about it to prevent it becoming worse, so it’s generally best to be around when you’re dryer is running.