Protect your home by remembering vent-hazards when considering where to place your oven vents, dryer vents, exhaust vents and even where the furnace ductwork is placed.
You may be thinking "what vent-hazards are there with vents?" Well, I'll give a range vent example:
We had a Jennaire range many years ago, and we were so excited to be able to grill steaks and other meats right in the kitchen. The Jennaire had a powerful suction fan that sucked the smoke and fat from the meat down through the center of the stove and out the side of the house. Well, six or seven years later the stove gave up the ghost and died on us. It almost literally "fried" all the electrical wiring in the entire stove. Sufficient to say, we replaced it.
In removing it, RL found over 2 inches of accumulated fat and grease that had built-up in the bottom of the six to eight foot horizontal vent. We had no idea of the fire trap we were living with. We had had several fires just under the electrical units on top of this stove but nothing in the vent. Had a fire ever gotten started in that vent, it would not have been easy putting it out.
The dryer vent can also pose a vent-hazard if the vent is not placed in the right position on the side of your home. As an example, if you have a gas dryer, and you vent your dryer above a window or a door, the exhaust will be sucked back into the house when the window or door is opened. That can be life threatening due to carbon monoxyde poisoning.
In our experience, the inspector slapped our hands because the vent was above the window in the basement, but he allowed it because it was an electric dryer, not gas. We wouldn't want the moist air sucked back into the house either, so we keep that window closed!
Dryer vents often use flexible materials and they often get holes in them and blow dryer lint into the home. That can be a fire trap depending on where the lint is being accumulated. Our opinion is to use metal pipes to prevent puncturing the flexible ones.
That was learned from another experience we had, where RL connected two pieces of dryer vent together with electrical duct tape of all things. Of course, the heat and moisture from the dryer quickly disassembled that "RL fixit" job very quickly, and he later discovered the lint was accumulating in the basement.
To illustrate another vent-hazard, I saw a segment of "Holmes on Homes" and he showed how someone had a bonus room above the garage, that was used for a kid's bedroom. It was hard to keep it warm, and so they had run a heating vent through the garage ceiling into the room. Of course, there needed to be a return air vent there too, and so every time the return air passed through the garage, any automobile fumes from the garage would be sucked into the return air vent and consequently, circulat throughout the house. Not good!!
Metal Chimney (old style)
Metal chimneys need to be inspected regularly for deterioration of the elbows and chimney pipes. In fact a screw placed in each joint where two pipes connect will insure that they don't expand and contract leaving your home vulnerable to fire. True, it takes a few years for metal such as this to deteriorate, but the heat and cooling puts wear and tear on the metal.
We lived in a rental once that the elbow from the stove to the chimney was nearly completely worn or burned through. One night I was looking at the rock wall behind the wood stove just after I had built a "super hot" fire to keep us toasty warm. All at once I saw flames reflected on the rock wall from the fire burning up the chimney. Then I looked at the chimney itself and it was forming a slight "v" where two chimney pieces connected. I usually just tapped it with a piece of wood when it did that. This time I restrained myself and got RL to come observe what was happening.
We decided to shut down the oxygen to the fire and let it burn out before trying to fix anything. Good choice, because when RL tried to straighten the chimney when it had cooled down, he hit it with a piece of wood like I usually did, only this time the chimney fell out of the ceiling. Needless to say, RL replaced that elbow immediately. We'll never know how close we were to having a terrible disaster due to an old elbow that had worn through on all the corrugated parts that bend. That was one scarey night.
It is very important to remember some of these vent-hazards about vent placement and ductwork, to help keep your family and home a safer place to live. Even in a new home, mistakes can be made so in this case a little knowledge can prevent a dangerous thing.
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