One source of heat that can lead to a fire is fans that operate in our homes. There are many different types of fans: ceiling fans, box fans, fans in air handling units, exhaust fans and bathroom fans. Whatever the type of fan, when they malfunction, they can cause excessive heat, especially once they lock up. It is important to keep fans clean and operating at maximum efficiency. When one malfunctions, it is imperative that it be replaced as soon as possible.
Bathroom fans have caused some residential fires in the region. I recently had to replace the bathroom fan in our home when the fan locked up. The bathroom fan is usually installed near combustibles. In some cases, the dust that builds up in the fan housing can be combustible. Bathroom fans are not designed to be run for more than 15-20 minutes. If you can, vacuum the fan housing and motor periodically.
I recently experienced a locked-up fan in an air handling unit. When turned on, I could hear a loud buzz and no air flow. One reason that these fans can go bad is when the filter gets clogged, which does not allow enough air to flow through the system. There is usually a good amount of space around this fan, but there is still the possibility of a fire from an overheated motor once it locks up.
Ceiling fans can cause excessive heat when the motor stops operating during peak performance. It is important to not leave ceiling fans on when not at home. It is necessary to replace ceiling fans when they malfunction.
Most fans are electric. Electricity is fine if it is flowing through unrestricted wiring. However, heat builds up when electricity is restricted. When a fan malfunctions, it is important to turn off the electricity. Cutting the power may mean unplugging the fan, cutting off the switch to the fan or turning the breaker off in the panel box. One should not work on an energized circuit. It may be necessary to use an electrical tester to confirm that the power is off.
The best early detection of smoke is with an adequate number of properly located smoke alarms. Many fan-related incidents occur in attic spaces that are not normally protected by smoke alarms. Building code does not require the attic space to be protected by smoke alarms in single-family dwellings. It is still necessary to have the living spaces protected with smoke alarms.
It is important to know what fans are in the home. One does not have to know how to replace it, but have to be able to figure out when a fan is not working properly. One must not use the malfunctioning fan until it has been checked, repaired or replaced. Fires can occur for many reasons, and a fan that malfunctions is one of those causes.