Earlier this year, I talked about an issue I had with my bathroom exhaust fan, and how the problems it caused were ultimately mitigated by the purchase of a temporary electric fan. Since then, I've been rethinking exhaust fans – which are typically found in bathrooms or above stoves – as they can pose big problems for households that are trying to maximize their energy savings and pose a safety concern, as evidenced by a recent story.
For example, it's hard to tell whether or not these home fixtures are functioning at their maximum capacity – keeping cold air out in the winter and the hot breezes out in the summer. The best I've come up with is the tissue paper test that aims to determine if the proper airflow is being maintained (I'm certainly open to suggestions).
However, a recent release from the City of Las Vegas should serve as a reminder for individuals to check their exhaust fans, even if they use electric fans to mitigate their use. On December 8, a family of five was rescued from their burning home by firefighters. After starting in the ceiling, the fire was able to spread to other rooms of the house through the exhaust pipe (which is connected to the fan), causing an estimated $250,000 worth of damage.
According to Firehouse.com, one of the news sources that reported the story, exhaust fans should be vacuumed regularly. This build up could cause the motor to run hot and pose a fire risk, as this component could overheat.
But, regardless of your feelings on the exhaust fans, electric fans can be a valuable asset when used correctly, increasing airflow and helping homeowners get the most from their existing products, and they may be a safer, less expensive option.