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Before you settle in for a long winter's nap, make sure your home is as safe as it can be. By checking your house for common fire hazards, you can minimize your risk and make sure that your property is safe from problems like electrical shorts, clogged dryer vents and more. Here's how to get started.
What's in it for you?
- Reduced likelihood of fire damage
- Increased safety
- Peace of mind
How to Reduce Fire Hazards in Your Home:
- Clean dryer vents of lint. A clogged dryer vent is filled with combustible material that can easily ignite. In addition to cleaning your lint trap with every load, make sure the vent pipe is clear as well. To do this, remove the exterior vent cover and use a flexible vent brush from your local hardware store to clean out excess lint.
- Check for loose outlets. Your electrical outlets can wear out over time, increasing your risk of sparking, shocks, and fire. Check each outlet by plugging in a lightweight appliance. If the plug seems loose or falls out, replace that outlet with a new one.
- Clean up the kitchen. Cooking fires are a major cause of house fires in the U.S. Make sure your countertops are clear of flammable items near the cooktop and oven by keeping towels, papers and debris at least two or three feet away. It's also a good idea to keep a small fire extinguisher under the sink to put out a grease fire in a pinch.
- Upgrade your circuit breakers. Faulty wiring can cause sparks inside your walls, which can lead to dangerous hidden fires. Replace circuit breakers with AFCI breakers, which are more sensitive to sudden surges. To do this, turn off the main breaker and remove the circuit you want to change. Disconnect the black wire first and follow it to the panel to find its corresponding white wire. Disconnect the white wire, too. Connect the white wire to the new breaker's terminal, labeled "neutral" or "white," then connect the black wire to the terminal labeled "load" or "black." Connect the coiled wire to the place where you disconnected the old white wire earlier and pop the new breaker in place on the panel.
Pro Tip: If replacing circuit breakers feels overwhelming, hire an electrician. A professional will make quick work of this task to bring your electrical panel up to speed.