How to Avoid Dryer Fires, While Making Your Customers Happier in the Process
One of the biggest hazards of owning a coin laundry is the possibility of a dryer fire. These fires can be devastating to the business and are the primary reason that insurance costs for laundry mats is so expensive. The good news is that most dryer fires can be easily avoided. This is because the primary cause of such fires has to do with the build up of dryer lint. When dryer lint is not cleaned out regularly, you are literally playing with fire and your business is at stake.
A good friend of mine had a dryer fire in one of his stores, but he was lucky, it only burned down 3 dryers. Problem was, he lost about a week of revenue because he had to close the store to clean up inside and try to air out the building from the overwhelming smell of smoke. That's right; don't forget about the smoke damage. Who would want to wash their clothes in a place that smells like an ashtray? The cleanup costs were substantial, even though the insurance covered the equipment. And we won't even talk about all the lost revenue that walked down the street.
Laundromat Fires are the #1 Insurance Claim
Like I said, you need to keep this in mind when you own a Laundromat. So here are a few tips that I do to help reduce my chances of having a dryer fire. Clean the lint screens! Every shift the attendants or cleaning crew are required to clean the dryer's lint screens by hand. In two of my stores the dryer's lint screens are accessible to the customers and we have educated them with flyers as to how they will get a better dry if they clean the lint screen themselves before each use. Also make sure that you have at least one to two feet of clear space behind the dryers, so as to reduce the chance of something catching on fire. Have your attendant once a week sweep the area behind the dryers to get the dust off the floor.
At least once a quarter, preferably once a month, take a vacuum and vacuum out the area under the lint screens, blowers, and dryer basket area. Essentially everything you can get to from the front of the dryer, without taking it apart more than the removal of the front service panel. Make sure that you get the lint off of the temperature sensors, as it has a tendency to build up there. This build up on the sensors can make the dryer think it is cooler than it really is, thus making the dryer heat to a higher temperature, which could melt or burn the customers clothes (the second most common way a dryer catches on fire). Again, make sure you vacuum out the blower as well. Many times the fins on the blower get caked in with lint which reduces the airflow, making it less efficient. This will cause the clothes to take a longer time to dry and will annoy the customers in the process.
Depending on your location, you will want to have your dryer vents cleaned out once or twice a year. This cleaning should also include a detailed cleaning of the entire inside of the dryer, front, and back. Think of this as your 30,000-mile checkup for your car. It can be a little pricy, but the alternative will cost you way more in money and stress, and I am all for finding ways to reduce the stress in my life. So hire this one out and let someone else get their hands dirty for a change. With proper cleaning of the lint and areas around your dryers, they will last longer, work more efficiently, and be more reliable, all making for happier customers.
- Brian Brunckhorst