Fire Protection in the Ducts: How to Slow the Spread of Fire in Your Vacaville Home

blog-icon-hvacNothing is scarier to a homeowner than the prospect of a house fire. Fires destroy homes, tear apart families, and threaten lives. In our two decades on the job, we’ve been lucky to only have a handful of clients experience home fires. It’s certainly on the minds of many, though. True, fires are becoming rarer with the advent of modern building techniques and materials. But if your home is older, you’re at higher risk for fire than someone with a house built in the last 15 or so years.

Fire prevention is a holistic science, with important pieces of the puzzle coming from several different trades. New electrical codes require circuits to trip more easily than before, which helps lower the odds of electrical fires. Fire blocking inside your walls prevents fire from traveling easily in key areas, such as soffits and stairwells. And rigorous standards for insulation and sheetrock mean that builders are thinking more and more about the materials they use and what kinds will slow the progress of fire. In an age where much is still built from wood, our modern houses are pretty fire-proof. Your HVAC system plays a key role in fire safety as well. In fact, no other system in the home that can do as much to prevent fire can also hasten its spread.

HVAC Equipment and Ducts

It’s no secret that house fires are sometimes caused by HVAC equipment. The risk is higher if your furnace runs on gas, but overall the risk is very, very low. Gas problems and electrical shorts cause most of these blazes, and they’re easy to prevent if you have a good HVAC company on your side. Regular maintenance and prompt repair of issues will guarantee your system is in good working order and not putting your home or family at any undue risk. We like to remind people that your clothes dryer is much more likely to cause a fire than your HVAC system, so be sure to regularly clean out your lint traps.

Fire Dampers

An important piece of fire prevention and control are fire dampers, which are installed in your ducts. These heat-triggered traps will close if a fire starts burning nearby, meaning that ducts that are open will automatically lock down at the first sign of a fire. These dampers have “burn times” from 1 – 3 hours, which is how long it will take a fire to eat its way through the damper and get to the rest of the ducting. In turn, this gives you invaluable time to get your family to safety and call the authorities. It also gives firefighters more of a chance to save the majority of the house. Many times the damper itself is enough to stop the spread of fire in that direction; with no air flow to fuel the flames, the fire can die down near the damper and not burn through it at all.

Your home may or may not be already equipped with these dampers. If not, it’s definitely worth considering, especially in older homes. The next time you have your HVAC system worked on, ask the technician about dampers and where it would be appropriate to install them. While the odds that you’ll need them are thankfully low, they can literally be a lifesaver if a fire does happen in your home. Doing these simple things  keeping your HVAC system maintained, cleaning lint traps, and installing fire dampers  can prevent tragedy. Questions? Contact us for answers to your HVAC fire queries and to learn other ways to keep your home safe from the risk of fire.