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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Exhaust Vents Are Household Fire Hazards

8/10/2020 (Permalink)

bathroom ceiling vent Dirty bathroom and laundry room ceiling vents can be a huge fire hazard.

Bathroom and Laundry Room Vents - Hidden Household Fire Hazards

There are a lot of things that new homeowners are not taught when buying a new home. Most of those issues have to deal with routine maintenance of the home. Recently, we have had a few fire restoration jobs from Mesa Arizona that came in relatively close together where the cause of the fire was the bathroom/laundry room vents. Not something you hear about every day. Personally, we bought our house around 10 years ago and we haven’t ever really thought about cleaning the vents in our bathrooms or laundry room. We did put up some wire mesh around them though to prevent scorpions from getting through. But, never thought about cleaning them out. Until I started working with SERVPRO that is. There are a lot of things we do differently now.

Most people are not aware that dirty air ducts can be a fire hazard. Also, a lot of people don’t know that an insurance claim for a fire started by maintenance neglect will generally not be covered. So, this is important! Dust, lint, and other materials could serve as an ignition if the fan gets too hot. Here in Arizona, especially during the summer, that can be a huge hazard. 

Cleaning your air vents out is not really hard to do. It does take some time and dust can get everywhere. So you will want to wear some eye protection and should wear a mask. Of course, most people are wearing masks everywhere nowadays anyway. So a mask should be easy to find laying around. Below we will discuss the steps to cleaning your air vent and some of the tools you will want to have on hand.

  1. Put on protective gear such as eye protection and a mask. Dust and dirt will be stirred up during the process and you really don’t want that getting into your eyes or airways. Wearing gloves might be a good idea as well, though not really necessary.
  2. Take the vent cover off of the vent. This can seem a little tricky. Sometimes, if the vent was placed prior to any painting that has been done on the ceiling, there could be a slight bond there at the edges. Usually slightly shifting the vent cover back and forth will break that. Sometimes using a flathead screwdriver to slightly move it will also work.
  3. When you are pulling the vent cover down, do it gently as there are spring clamps holding the vent cover in place. If you bring the cover down a little you will see them. Squeeze the sides of the clamp together to release them and then remove the vent cover. You might want to look up a youtube video showing that done. It sounds easy, but it makes more sense when you have actually seen it done.
  4. Next you will want to find the power plug and pull it out so it doesn’t accidentally turn on somehow while you are in the process of cleaning or removing the vent. Trust me, that could cause all kinds of issues.
  5. Now you have a decision to make. It really depends on how clean you want to get your vent. You could clean it in place or remove it to clean it more thoroughly. If you choose to clean it in place you will want to use a vacuum cleaner hose attachment, a rag, q tips, and cleaning solution. Obviously, if you take the vent out you will have better access to clean the nooks and crannies. I would suggest cleaning your vents by removing the whole vent. But cleaning it out without removing it is better than not doing it at all, and you don’t have to worry about having fun putting the vent back up into place.

You should consider cleaning your vents around ever 6 months or at least once a year. Sometimes people are under the impression that if they have someone come out to clean their air ducts, that is covered as well. While it is a good idea to have your air ducts cleaned, they do not clean your vents at the same time. 

Doing these kinds of routine household maintenance chores may seem like a pain to deal with. However, they could really pay off in the long run if it helps you avoid a fire in your home.

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