Bathroom Exhaust Fans

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Exhaust%20Fan%20FireThe Orland Fire Protection District wants to caution residents on the potential hazards of bathroom exhaust fans. Many of our homes and businesses throughout the District have various types of these fans. Last year alone we had over a dozen exhaust fan fires resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and displacing residents until necessary repairs can be made. In 2016 we have had more than four fires this year alone– the most recent exhaust fan fire was last Sunday evening. Fortunately this most recent fire occurred while the residents were home and called 911 immediately.

Exhaust fans are designed to help prevent build-up of steam and moisture from showers and baths, eliminate damp walls and remove odors frequently found in most bathrooms. However, these very fans can also become fire hazards if not properly maintained and cleaned frequently. Over time, lint and dust can accumulate in and around the motor causing fans to overheat and ignite materials, including lint in the fan housing. Older fans rarely used are also subject to damage as a result of the moisture found in the bathroom. We have found seized motors that caught fire when fans were turned on but not working properly. Another frequent cause of exhaust fan fires is the result of an occupant turning on the fan switch instead of the light switch and leaving it on.

The Orland Fire District want our residents to know that there simple precautions that they can take to prevent exhaust fan fires:

  • Many fans within our district are older fans that may be original installs at the time of construction. Many older fans are not thermally protected like fans available today. Thermally protected fans are designed to shut the fan down if they were to seize or overheat.
  • Clean exhaust fans twice a year. It would be a good time to clean and check your fans when you change your smoke detector batteries twice a year. Make sure the power to the fan is off before cleaning and inspecting the fan and motor. Cleaning should include removing the fan cover and removing all dirt and lint from the cover as well as the fan motor. A vacuum cleaner with an attachment works really well. Check fan motor for signs of heat or damage. Spin blades and make sure motor spins freely and does not get stuck. If you have a problem, we recommend that you replace the fan as soon as possible.
  • Bathroom exhaust fans are designed to be used for brief periods of time and should never be left on indefinitely, when unattended, or away from the home. Residents should consider installing a timer to limit usage and to prevent leaving them on unintentionally for long periods of time. It is best to turn off the fan when you exit the bathroom.