Fire Prevention Starts in Your Home's Vents, Flues, and Ducts
October is fire prevention month! But what does that really mean? How do you protect your home and family from one of the most destructive forces of nature?
Our first instinct is to eliminate the outside causes of home fires: candles left lit, oven burners left on, overloaded power strips, and on. Less apparent, though, are the embryonic sparks of a future inferno that originate from within the home's internal structure; inside its air ducts, chimneys, and dryer vent systems.
38 years of experience has taught us a thing or two about making sure your home remains a fire-free zone, from the inside... out.
October is when we start to imagine cuddling around a warm fire.
But before you light that wood-burning stove, fireplace, or furnace, ask yourself: When's the last time you had your chimney cleaned? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advocates a professional sweeping at least once a year.
One reason being: The burning firewood creates a thick, gooey residue called creosote that sticks to the inside of your chimney walls; creosote is highly combustible, while flue temperatures regularly reach 2100-degrees Fahrenheit.
Left untreated, the build-up of creosote combined with hot temperatures becomes a perfect recipe for a devastating chimney fire.
D.I.Y. chimney cleaning is not recommended, as adequate creosote elimination requires state-of-the art equipment, brushes, and video inspection to locate hidden parts of a contaminated flue.
Telltale signs of dangerous creosote build-up:
-Flaky tarlike substance and/or broken tiles on the base of the fireplace
-Restricted air flow/backdraft when in use
According to the NFPA, dryer-related combustion results in an estimated 15,500 fires a year in the U.S., with a financial cost of $100,000,000. The leading cause of these fires is "failure to clean."
Ironically, dryer lint is a known ingredient in homemade fire-starter kits! It's extremely flammable. For this reason, safe dryer use requires these critical steps, in addition to annual service checks by a certified appliance professional:
-Clean lint filter before and after every load
-Clean back of the dryer where lint can build up on the heating element
-Keep the duct venting short and straight with few curves or bends
-ONLY use metal vents; not foil or plastic
-Leave enough space between the dryer and the wall to avoid crushing ducts
Telltale signs of an overheated dryer:
-Clothes take longer to dry than normal
-Clothes come out hotter than usual at the end of a cycle
-Flapper on vent hood doesn't open when dryer is on
A conventional HVAC system consists of several conduits, including a supply duct, which carries heated or cooled air out to various parts of your home, and a return duct, which brings fresh air back to the HVAC system to be redistributed again.
Every time the unit is turned on, a cloud of dirt, dander, pollen, dust, etc. flows into these conduits via a forced-air system. Without regular duct cleaning, these particles build up, reduce air flow, require the system to expend more energy (i.e. heat) to normalize temperatures, and ultimately create a powder keg waiting to ignite.
(In addition to spawning a breeding ground for mold-aggravating allergens, bacteria, and other respiratory microbes)
To keep your air ducts in working order, we recommend:
-Use high-efficiency air filters
-Change filters every three months
-Regular maintenance checks
-Shut down system during renovation or construction
Telltale signs of a compromised air duct:
-Mold/moisture around air vents
-Musty odor when HVAC or furnace is turned on
-Dust covering walls, surfaces, ceilings, drapes inside the home
-Whistling noise when air flows through vents
-Increased allergies, coughing
-Higher than normal heating/cooling bills
According to the NFPA, the number of U.S. home fires increased 3.4% from 2014 to 2015. Don't be one of the statistics!
In order to keep your house safe, Mad Hatter is offering Kudzu customers some special offers to help prepare you for the holidays:
-$20 off Fireplace Sweeping
-$50 off a complete Air Duct Cleaning
-$20 off Dryer Vent Cleaning
-$400 off Outdoor Kitchen or Outdoor Fireplace furniture, fixtures and equipment
Visit the store or call them at 770-740-8133 for details.