Local fire chief explains importance of HVAC maintenance
Dust buildup and trapped debris in air ducts can lead to fire risk
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Cleaning out your air ducts probably doesn’t come to mind when thinking about spring cleaning.
Fire Chief Duane Hughes said you need to do more than change out your monthly air filter to prevent a risk of fire.
Dust and debris tend to collect in air ducts, which isn’t normally a cause for concern.
But when heat is introduced to the dirt, that buildup can spark flames that can spread throughout the entire HVAC system.
Most buildings are designed to prevent the spread utilizing ducts that close.
Dirt and other accumulation can keep those doors from closing.
Fires can then use the ducts as a tunnel system to travel around the fire protection systems of a building or home.
“Normally our HVAC systems are controlled by thermostats, and when the temperature drops, our heaters, and furnaces turn on. If you get a smell or any type of smoke, any acrid smells, that’s probably a hint that you have dirty ducts,” said Hughes. “You definitely need to go ahead and call 911. More than likely you’ve had some dust particles ignite in the ducts. We want to go ahead and use what we call thermal imaging cameras. We can look through the walls. We can look at those ducts. We can ensure that if there is a fire, we know exactly where it is.”
Hughes reminded people to practice fire safety when using space heaters during chilly weather.
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