How bad is it to leave your house while an appliance is on?

We’re all busy and multi-tasking helps us cram much into our packed schedules.  Who hasn’t left for work after throwing the laundry in the dryer?  Or, programed the dishwasher to run after everyone has gone to bed?  What about starting a load of laundry while you run to the store so it’s ready for the dryer when you return?

Well, you’re not going to like the answer to our above question.
The fact is, it’s BAD to leave your house while an appliance is still on.

Faulty appliances cause about 9,600 residential house fires a year!  FEMA states it also causes an estimated 25 deaths, 525 injuries and $211 million in property loss.  If you’re not home during the first few seconds of an emergency, your house can go up in flames.

Here’s a list of the household appliances that can cause substantial damage if they are left on when no one is home:

Stoves and Ranges

Careless cooking fires are one of the leading causes of household fires in the United States. According to reports from the United States Fire Administration, nearly one-third of all home fires begin in the kitchen area. Cooking is also the leading cause of injuries from home fires.  Always turn off the oven and the stove top, even if just running down the street for “a few minutes”.

Portable Electric Heaters

These can cause fires or electric shock if not used properly.  Many factors can cause an electric heater to catch fire.  If combustible materials, such as furniture, pillows, bedding, papers, clothes and curtains are less than three feet from the front, sides and rear of the heater or if the heater’s air intake or outlet is blocked, a fire can start.   (For more info, see AHAM’s complete brochure).

Dishwashers

WOW – These are the cause of about 500 fires in the country each year according to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  During the heat/drying cycle the heating element could fail and cause a fire.  As with many appliances, it won’t hurt to make sure the dishwasher is off when leaving the house. Or, at the very least, cancel the heat or dry cycle before leaving.

Clothing Dryers

A dryer should never run when you are not home or while you are sleeping in case of a fire.   More than 15,000 dryer fires break out each year.  For more dryer tips consult our blog on how failure to clean your dryer could cause a house fire.

Aside from fires, leaky washing machine hoses can flood your laundry room if left unchecked for hours.

We know it will be tough but try not to utilize the above appliances if you are not going to be home to monitor them.  Even if you have a newer appliance, accidents can happen.  Major brands have recalled units in the past due to faulty mechanical pieces as a result of reported fires.  It’s best to be safe than sorry!

– S.O.