Minneapolis firefighters: Clean vents to avoid fires - KMSP-TV

Clean your vents to avoid a house fire this winter

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When was the last time you cleaned out the lint from the back of your dryer? If it's been over a year, fire experts say it's important to be sure you do because dryers are one of the leading causes of house fires.

October is fire prevention month, and the Minneapolis Fire Department and Center Point Energy teamed up to make sure residents take the time to do it now before winter sets in.

Tim Boettcher has worked at Center Point Energy for nearly 39 years. Most recently, he's been a part of the Home Services Plus Team, which helps maintain customer appliances -- especially dryers. On Tuesday, he showed FOX 9 just how important it is to have a professional service your dryer once a year.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, clothes dryers and washing machines are the sixth leading cause of house fires. Four percent of the house fires in Minneapolis are blamed on dryers, and there have been about 30 within the past two years.

"The lint itself is flammable, and it's attached to a heating source or some mechanical mechanism itself," explained Minneapolis Fire Marshal Chief Perry Ebner. "These fires can be very challenging because basement fires are more difficult to fight, and on homes where washers and dryers are on the second story with bedroom upstairs, that makes a life safety issue. "

Boettcher said he finds evidence of a previous fire in about one out of every seven dryers he services.

"People are always surprised when you ask, 'When was the fire?" he said. "It just never went anywhere, which is the good news really. "

Boettcher says cleaning out the back of your dryer -- along with the output from your house -- will help save the lifespan of the appliance and protect the quality of your clothes by protecting them from getting over heated. Most importantly, it also protects the people in your home.

Still, Boettcher recommends having the lint cleaned from every crevice about once a year.

"You would not drive your car for a year without changing the oil," he said. "Being that a lot of this equipment is tucked into the basement where you don't think about it or don't see it, a lot of people don't think about it -- and we are just trying to make people realize it's not only for efficiency it's also for safety.

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