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chyna's avatar

Do you run appliances when you are away from your home?

Asked by chyna (39848points) August 17th, 2014

Do you feel it’s safe to run your washer, dryer, dishwasher etc. while you away for hours at a time? What about if you are just running to the store and back?
I may be paranoid but I unplug everything except the TV when I leave for the day.

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23 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I set my dishwasher on a timer to save energy; I usually run it after midnight.

I will run the washing machine and dryer when I am out. If nothing else, the dryer seems safe because there is no chance of flooding.

canidmajor's avatar

I live on the edge. I run anything whenever. I actually have read enough and heard enough to know that that is not the best plan, but I do it anyway.

jca's avatar

I try not to run dishwasher or washer/dryer when I’m not home, but I have.

I’m paranoid about fire, because I lived in a building that burned in a fire, and I guess from a young age it was drummed into me about not playing with matches and being read the Smokey Bear story when I was little.

At the very least, I may run the dishwasher or washer/dryer if I am going to come back within an hour or two, not if I am leaving for a long trip.

Today I am going to brunch, coming back and then going away on a little vacation. I will run the machines while I am out to brunch, so when I return they will be done. That way, I can go away with a clear mind.

I think your unplugging everything but the TV when you’re away from home is a bit extreme, @chyna.

canidmajor's avatar

@chyna: If you want to avoid a bunch of running around to re-plug stuff when you get home, maybe you could isolate which circuit(s) these things are on and simply throw a switch or two on your breaker box to save time and effort.
I don’t think your concern is extreme, I have lived in areas where the current was prone to surging and sparking was a distinct possibility.

elbanditoroso's avatar

All of the above – all the time, whenever I need to leave the house.

I don’t see any danger. I run the dryer at night sometimes when I am going to sleep, and I don’t see any real difference between being asleep and being absent.

Same with the dishwasher – I run it late at night, and never had a problem.

I don’t question that at some point in the distant past, there might have been some risk somehow. But in 2014? No way. Not a worry.

hearkat's avatar

We use the timer on the dishwasher. We mostly set it to run at night, while we sleep; but if there wasn’t enough room for everything, we sometimes set it to run during the day after everyone has has left and won’t be needing hot water.

I know too many people who have had fires caused by clothes dryers, so in the rare occasion when I need to run it and I won’t be home, I am extra diligent about ensuring that the lint trap is cleaned.

I will run the clothes washer when heading out, though, because it is in the basement with the french drain and sump pump, so any flooding wouldn’t do any substantial damage.

Pachy's avatar

I’ve never had a problem running my dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, and computer (though never in a storm) while I’m away for hours. But that’s it.

jca's avatar

To me, one advantage of being home if a problem should arise is that I could either shut the water off (should there be a leak) or get the pets out and call 911 (should there be a fire). If I were not home, they’d likely perish in the event of a fire. If there were a leak, I’d be coming home to a flood.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Dishwasher sometimes and on rare occasions the clothes washer. I’ll only do this if I’m just running out for something and will be back in a couple of hours at the most. NEVER run the clothes dryer when you are gone.

dxs's avatar

Just the fridge. I don’t have a dishwasher, a washing machine, a dryer, or a fireplace. Everything else, the toaster, the microwave, lamps, is left unplugged.
I even turn the A/C off. It’s such a waste to keep it on when nobody’s home. (And don’t start complaining to me about how you like to come into a cool room.,.you can drink cold water and put yourself next to the vent and you’ll be cooled off instantly.)

gailcalled's avatar

I empty the lint filter in the dryer after each use. What could go wrong? I have never had a dryer incident in 50 years of using them, but I guess that there is always a first time. I do not use the “hot” setting ever and run it for a max. of 50 minutes.

longgone's avatar

I don’t worry about the dishwasher at all. The washing machine, though, I don’t usually run when I’m leaving any dogs at home. Don’t ask me why.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@gailcalled you would be shocked at the amount of lint that gets inside the inner workings of the dryer and past the lint filter. 1 in 22 house fires in the US is from a clothes dryer.

Brian1946's avatar

My fridge is set to run 24/7/365, I run my A/C during hot days including when I’m going to be away from home for less than 24 hours, but I don’t run any other appliances when I’m not at home.

I think it would be 99% safe for me to leave my washer or dryer running when I’m absent, because I treat my appliances very well. However, I’m not going take the 1% chance unless it’s an emergency.

jca's avatar

Yes @gailcalled. It’s not just the lint in the trap that you grab every time you do a load. There’s also lint in the exhaust hose that you have to clean out (or have someone do for you).

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

I’ve been guilty of running an errand or two while food’s slowly simmering.

Yes, this is stupid and irresponsible behavior. I have a gas stove, so a stray bit of anything could catch the flame and start a fire.

gailcalled's avatar

I checked the back of my dryer today and found what I remembered; a lint vent from the dryer with a long pipe that vents it outside…looks like about 4” in diameter. I went outside and found the egress, covered with a little plastic woven cage that prevents mice from getting in. There was a lot of dusty particles coating the plants on that side of the house. So that is in addition to the filter on the top of the dryer.

I am a lazy housekeeper, but I would never leave a stove burner on when the house was empty. I get hit by a truck plus the house burns down.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t run my dishwasher or dryer when I am away from the house. Nor do I use a crock pot when I am out. When I travel I unplug the toaster oven and switch off my power surge strips which turns off computers and printers.

My fear is fire, but unplugging also saves energy.

jca's avatar

I used to have a washing machine that was about 10 years old. It started having transmission problems and one day, I put a load in, in the evening. The next morning, I went to put the clothes into the dryer and the washer was still running. The clothes were spinning all night. By the morning, they were dry (yet in a wrinkly mass) from spinning so much. I also had something similar happen with my dryer. For those two experiences, it taught me a lesson – don’t take for granted that machines like washer and dryer will work as they’re supposed to.

JLeslie's avatar

I woman I worked with put her dishwasher on for the first time in her brand new home and left. She came home and her house had burned down. Something wrong with the electrical connection I think.

A new condo of mine the water to the dishwasher was not connected correctly and it smelled like it was burning.

My last house the pipe for the heat to leave the house from the dryer was put in in a stupid way, amazing it was to code, and I believe my LG dryer hat a bad catch system for lint. We would clean it out every year and it was amazing the amount of lint. In other houses and my apartment we don’t have that problem.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@jca and @JLeslie – one example does not make a universal rule.

The bottom line for me is that the number of appliances per house is usually between 3 and 5 – in some houses more.

If you figure there are 100 million houses or apartments in the US (estimated) that’ a total of approximately 500 million appliance.

The number of fires/spinning machines/accidental wierdnesses (at least that people here about) is beyond tiny. It’s a few hundredths of a percentage point.

So odds are very very high that nothing will happen.

JLeslie's avatar

Fire and death stats from appliances.

Whether willing to take a risk depends on two things in my mind. One, the risk is statistically high, or two, if the bad thing happens it’s a devastating bad thing. Fire destroys quickly and should be feared in my opinion. Although, I do admit to being more afraid, or maybe prudent, than the average person.

jca's avatar

Exactly what @jleslie said. When it comes to fire, as one who lived in a building that burned in a fire, I am into “better safe than sorry. ” If not running a load of laundry or dishes impacts my life in a very minor way, why not?

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