Cleaning Exhaust Fans
Article by Home Inspectors of Middle Tennessee LLC, January 2016 Monthly Tip
Cleaning the bathroom exhaust fan is not only a good idea, it’s good for you! How so? When the bathroom fan is clean and functioning most efficiently, it will help remove more moisture from the air, which helps prevent the growth of mold and mildew. It’s not difficult – it just takes the determination to get it done.
One way to make the job less messy is to vacuum the cover before removing it. Much of the accumulated dust will be removed rather than raining down on everything and anyone within range. In fact, vacuuming the cover every few months will go a long way towards keeping it functioning properly.
But if the job has been neglected for years, it’s time to pull the fan cover off. This can only be done once the power to the bathroom has been disconnected. The cover may come off with a gentle tug or a few screws may need to be removed first.
The exposed portion of the fan can be wiped down using a cloth or mild soap. Dry everything thoroughly. The fan should be treated gently, however, because it can be damaged by over-zealous cleaning or handling. The cover can be wiped down or set to soak for a few minutes before drying it and putting the cover back on.
While the cleaning supplies are still within reach, it might be a good time to look into cleaning the kitchen exhaust fan as well. There is often grease build-up in and around the fan and filter, and a good cleaning will reduce any potential fire hazard as well as make the fan sparkle.
Once again the power to the fan needs to be turned off and the filters removed from the hood. If the cover is removable, it can be taken down gently and set to soak in warm, sudsy water. If not, it can be wiped down with a rag or sponge. Any filters that are removable should be taken out and similarly placed in soapy water.
The fan can be removed and placed on some newspaper to allow access to the blades. The blades can be wiped down with a sponge, some ammonia and some TLC. The motor should not be exposed to water, however, and the fan should be dried when the job is finished. Once all parts are clean and dry, the fan can be reassembled and power turned back on.
Thousands of fires are sparked each year by clogged dryer ventilation and an estimated 35 million dollars in damages are caused every year by dryer fires. The dryer venting system should be cleaned regularly to prevent property damage or worse, catastrophe.
There are special brushes that are made particularly for the job. While a vacuum attachment can be used initially, all parts of the dryer vent system should also be cleaned with a special brush. These brushes work better than a vacuum attachment alone because as the brush is turned and rotated, it will separate the lint from the sides of the vents and ducts where it can be removed. Be sure to detach and clean the flexible or rigid ductwork that connects the dryer to the outdoors.
Source: John Swygert, Home Inspectors of Middle Tennessee, LLC, www.NashvilleTNHomeInspections.com; January 2016 monthly eblast tip
Kenneth Bargers, REALTOR® | Pilkerton Realtors
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