Over time, dryer vents and ducts become clogged with lint, dust, and debris and can result in decreased efficiency, as well as vent fires. It is important to ensure that your laundry operation is using the proper venting and that the system is inspected frequently by a qualified contractor.

A dryer’s exhaust can reach temperatures between 120°F (50°C) and 160°F (71°C). When a dryer cannot vent properly, heat builds-up, increasing the temperature in the dryer and vents. Lint has an ignition temperature of 205°F (96°C). If the dryer or vent gets clogged, it doesn’t take long to reach this temperature.

The venting you choose for your laundry dryer has the potential to cause a catastrophic loss. Flexible ducts allow lint to be trapped inside creases and can create a build-up of lint. Whereas solid metallic ducts are smooth, which helps prevent lint from building-up inside.

Furthermore, if flexible dryer vents are used and a fire ignites, it can quickly burn through the vents allowing the fire to spread quickly to other parts of the building, creating a potentially devastating fire loss or significant smoke damage. Solid metallic ducts restrict the fire from burning through, giving staff and occupants additional time to extinguish the fire. Even with frequent duct and lint trap cleaning, lint can still build up inside dryers and vents. It is important to have dryers and ducts cleaned and regularly serviced by a certified contractor or by qualified maintenance personnel.


Risk Management Strategies

  • Install solid metallic ducts (do not use flexible dryer ducts)
  • Install dryer ducts in the straightest possible path
  • Duct joints need to be installed with the male end of the duct pointing in the direction of the airflow, pointing outdoors
  • Seal joints using approved foil duct tape to preventing joints from coming apart
  • An exterior exhaust cap needs to be installed to prevent critters from entering the building
  • Ducts need to be supported using non-combustible strapping
  • Do not allow dryer ducting to come in contact with plumbing lines, electrical wiring or other combustible materials
  • Clean the lint trap after every use
  • Duct and dryer cleaning needs to be completed at a minimum once a year
  • Install a smoke detector near the dryer
  • If the dryer is gas heated, install a carbon monoxide detector near the dryer as well.
  • Keep a 5lbs ABC fire extinguisher that is serviced annually near the dryer
  • Never allow a dryer to run when the building is unoccupied
  • Never dry clothes that have dry-cleaning chemicals on them
  • Never place combustible items on or near laundry dryers


For more information on dryer safety, please contact one of our risk management professionals. While risk management strategies can reduce your chances for loss, in the event of a loss it is important to ensure your business has the right level of insurance coverage. Visit our Commercial Insurance page to learn how we can help protect your business.

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