Did you know that dirty exhaust fans and clothes dryer vents cause death and destruction every year? Yearly to bi-annual cleaning can prevent this devastation and loss of life. Lint build-up is often the culprit in both scenarios. It is composed primarily of towel and toilet paper fluff in bathrooms. This easy-to-ignite fuel source spreads to the plastic and nearby combustible materials of the home.
The three most common causes of fan fires are: 1) Running the fan too long and overheating the motor, 2) faulty wiring, and 3) failure to clean the fan. Signs of these issues include the fan being slow to start up, making a rattling sound, or making no sound at all because the motor has already seized up.
Fire prevention advises not running the bathroom and laundry room exhaust fans more than 15-20 minutes so it doesn’t overheat. Clean the dirt and lint that coats the grill cover, fan blades, and motor. To clean the unit, turn off the electricity and remove the cover. The cover can be cleaned with soap and water if there is no light. Use a vacuum attachment with soft bristles to loosen and suck out debris to clean the fan blades and housing. Maintaining clean fans will reduce the chances of a house fire.
Clothes Dryer Vents
Failure to clean clothes dryer and its vent is the number one cause of clothes dryer fires. This leads to 2,900 fires, 5 deaths, and $35 million in property loss each year.
Keeping the dryer clean of lint is the best fire prevention. Wipe out the lint tray before or after every single load. Make sure the tray or screen isn’t loose and allowing lint to escape into the motor area. If your dryer vent is close, it can be cleaned out by hand or with a brush from the exterior. If the vent is long, it vents on the second floor, or it vents at the roof, it is best to call a professional. Some DIYers cut the vent and clean it themselves, never realizing that they are damaging the line and making it more likely to cause lint blockage and a fire. Professionals will clean and assemble the connections properly and safely.
With spring around the corner, now is a good time to clean these items that normally go unnoticed. Not only will this cleaning help prevent a house fire, it will also clean mildew from damp areas and freshen the air quality. Your house will thank you for it!