Preventing Clothes Dryer Fires


Now that the Maine weather is turning cooler, many families will be using their clothes dryers more frequently. As a Maine fire insurance agent, we urge you to be careful when using your dryer to avoid the tragedy of a fire in your home, apartment, condominium or business property.

The National Fire Protection Association estimated that nearly 18,000 dryer fires occurred in the U.S. in 2006, killing or injuring more than 350 people, and causing nearly $200 million in property damage.

Common Causes of Dryer Fires

Clothes dryer fire
Dryer fires cause $200 million damage annually. (City of Fitchburg, WI photo)

The leading cause of dryer fires is failure to properly clean the appliance. Lint can build up in the exhaust duct or the dryer itself. This blocks the flow of air, causing heat to build up to the point of combustion. Another common cause is heat build-up in the clothes being dried. This can occur when clothing that the manufacturer labels to be air-dried is placed in the dryer. Clothing with padding is a common culprit; heat builds up in the dense fabric. Clothes that have been soiled with flammables such as gasoline or paint thinners can also cause fires if they are not thoroughly cleaned first.

Dryer Fire Prevention Tips

  • Clean the lint screen before or after each load.
  • Periodically clean the dryer vent and duct. If you notice that your dryer is taking longer than normal to fully dry your clothes, this can indicate a blocked exhaust duct. Check the outside vent while your dryer is running to be sure that air flow is steady and strong. Don’t forget to reconnect the ductwork after cleaning!
  • Install a metal exhaust duct, not the plastic accordion-style ductwork.  Rigid ductwork is better than the flexible type, which can more easily trap lint.
  • Follow clothing manufacturer cleaning instructions. If the label says “air dry”, don’t put it in the dryer.
  • Keep the area around your dryer free of clothing and clutter.
  • Vacuum behind the dryer to prevent lint buildup.
  • Promptly remove dried clothes from the dryer. Do not leave them in the appliance or piled in a laundry basket.

Following these safety tips can help you avoid having to report a homeowners insurance claim, and keep your property and family safe. If you are looking for a Maine independent insurance agency representing many preferred homeowners and condo insurance companies, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541.

Does Insurance Cover Damage From Water Main Breaks?


After the recent rash of water main breaks in South Portland Maine, many locals wonder if their Maine business insurance policy or Maine homeowners insurance covers water damage from such an occurrence.  Here are some answers, depending on what kind of Maine insurance policy you purchased.

Is the Water District Responsible for Broken Water Mains?

In general, Maine public utilities are not considered liable except in cases of negligence. If they were repairing a main and forgot to shut off the water before disconnecting, causing a flood, you might have recourse. If the break is caused by an unforeseen circumstance, wear & tear, etc., you are probably on your own to repair the damage.

Basic Insurance Policies

Off-the-shelf Maine business property insurance policies do not cover water backup or flood damage. Neither do basic  Maine homeowners, renters or condominium policies. While most do cover damage from leaking, freezing, or breaking of plumbing fixtures and appliances on the premises, damage from water that comes from the ground or under the ground is excluded.  The two most common coverages that you can purchase are Water Backup Coverage , Underground Line Insurance Coverage and Flood Insurance.

Water Backup Insurance Coverage

Maine businesses and residents can purchase an endorsement to their property insurance policy that covers backup of sewers and drains. Water backup insurance is relatively inexpensive, because it only covers damage from water that backs up into your building. Damage from surface water or seepage through a foundation are not covered. If the water main break caused your drain to overflow, backing water into your building, you may have coverage. Unfortunately, that’s not usually what happens with a water main break. Usually, the water bubbles to the surface and inundates an area. To get coverage for that, you need to buy flood insurance.

Underground Line Insurance

Some Maine insurance companies now offer underground service line coverage. They have a coverage limit – often $10,000, with a $500 deductible. Insurers now selling this coverage in Maine include Andover Companies, Concord Group and Vermont Mutual. Some sell the coverage a la carte, while others include it in a special bundle of coverage. In all cases, you have to purchase it – it’s not automatically covered by homeowners policies.

Related Post:

More Maine Home Insurers Cover Water & Sewer Lines

Flood Insurance in Maine

Only a small percentage of residents and businesses in Greater Portland purchase Maine Flood Insurance. That’s unfortunate. They think that because they’re not in an area that susceptible to flooding, they’ll take their chances. Maybe they never even thought about buying flood insurance.  But, many events can cause a flood, from heavy rains to hurricanes to snowmelt.

To be defined as a flood, surface water must cover area that is normally dry land. If that area is more than 2 acres, or at least 2 contiguous property parcels are affected (including yours), you have experienced a flood. The only way to buy flood insurance is to buy a special flood policy (except for specially policies generally reserved for large corporations and commercial projects). Flood insurance policies exclude damage from water than seeps or leaks onto your property, unless a flood was the proximate cause of the leak.

If your home or business is in southern Maine, we would be happy to answer your questions about insuring your property. We have provided Maine business property insurance and personal insurance services to the Portland Maine area for more than 75 years. Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent at 207-799-5541.