How to Protect Your Family From Air Duct Fires

Dirty Air Ducts Can Be a Fire Hazard

Its fall and that means it is time to get your home prepared for Old Man Winter. It’s time to get those air ducts cleaned, tune up the furnace, get the chimney swept, clean the entire dryer vent, and clean and maintain the a-coil. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) provides home and business owners with information about how to choose a provider and what to look for when you hire someone to clean your air ducts. Consumers however need to be cautious and thorough when hiring someone to work on their home.

Ductwork refers to several different areas of your home. Air ducts generally refer to heating and cooling systems, dryers, and forced air systems. Ducts supply air through vents, registers, grills, and heating and cooling exchangers. They become dirty when dust, debris, or other materials build up. When these elements are allowed to build up in the Air ducts, they become hazardous and there is the possibility that a fire could ignite through combustion, a spark, or a hot surface. It is recommended that you at least have your air ducts cleaned every five years, but once year maintenance insures that they are hazard free, so there is less chance of air duct fires.

Which Air Ducts Are Greater Hazards

Your furnace provides heat to your family, but it can become clogged with dust and other particles that effect how efficient it is and can be disastrous if they are allowed to build up. The air is heated through a system of burners and the heat exchanger of the furnace, which forces the air out of the ducts, through the registers, and into your home. The burners operate at extremely high temperatures. As the dust accumulates over time, they can eventually fall onto one of the burners. If the amount is high enough, the dust can ignite from the heat off the burner.

The furnace filter is a common furnace fire hazard. Many people do not check on or clean their furnace filters often enough. You should change your furnace filter at least every two months for optimal safety. We all know dust and particles gather on the filter and restrict the flow of air. However, they can cause the filter to collapse and get stuck into the furnace cabinet that will start a fire.

Another common air duct that needs cleaned regularly is the vent/vents that are above your oven and stove. These also have a filter that needs washed and degreased. If a fire starts in the kitchen duct area it will cause a lot of damage, and could cause the entire house to engulf in flames.

Dryer vents are the leading fire hazard when it comes down to fires caused in air ducts. Lint builds up, not just on the filter (which you should clean off every time you put a new load in the dryer), but also on the vent work that leads to the outside through the plastic tubing that is hooked to the back of the dryer.

Ducts do run the length and width of your home, so the need special care in order to make sure there is no build up. Fires that begin in the air ducts around you house take a lot of effort to locate the source when fighting the fire and they also take longer to extinguish.

Cleaning the Air Ducts

Cleaning air ducts is the most effective way to eliminate dust build up and prevent possible fire hazards. Choose a professional that is licensed to do air duct work in the San Diego, CA area. An air duct cleaning company will be able to use specialized equipment to determine if there are any possible blockages in the duct system that stretches from one end of your house to the other. The will also provide furnace filters that are higher quality than the ones you buy at Walmart. These filters are specifically designed to protect the furnace and air conditioner from dust. Remember, filters that are not changed on a regular basis can accumulate dust and debris to the point that the filter can collapse and be sucked into the furnace cabinet and cause a fire. It is always best to hire a professional, because they are more knowledgeable and can pinpoint areas of concern that may need to be cleaned more regularly. Fall is the best time to create a yearly air duct inspection and air duct cleaning. That way you will stay safe and toasty warm all winter.

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