Rochester MN Home Inspector Reveals Some Not So Obvious Fire Hazards

We all know that smoking in bed or on the couch could start a fire due to a lost cigarette ash or leaving candles unattended are potential fire hazards. Not all fire hazards are asobvious or predictable. Some of these lesser known hazards are just as concerning because we don't see them coming until it's too late. Below is a list of the top ten unexpected fire hazards that may be in your home.

Lint build up and heat can be a recipe for disaster in your dryer and dryer vents. It is important to have a smooth bore, metal dryer vent. Clean your dryer vents regularly to insure unrestricted air flow. Replace any plastic or metal corrugated venting with solid metal, smooth bore venting, flexible venting can be easily crushed, and will impede air flow due to it's corrugated design, resulting in increased lint build up.

Laptops can get pretty hot if they their airflow is starved. Leaving a laptop in the bed, couch, blankets can restrict airflow in and out of the cooling vents. If blocked long enough, internal components can heat up enough to ignite and start a fire. Always make sure your laptop is stored on a hard desk or table surface or a laptop stand Stacking those old newspapers in the corner to recycle can be more of a fire hazard than you think.

Storing newspapers too close to a heat source could result in them catching on fire. If you're going to keep newspapers in your house, keep the stacks short and store them in a cool, dry place.

Heating pads and electric blankets might not be a very big concern, but if misused they can be extremely hazardous. Both of these items have the potential to build up excessive heat, resulting in a fire. It is recommended that test devices be used on their lowest setting and nut used for more that the recommended times.

An old appliance may appear fine, but could also be a disaster waiting to happen. Older appliance can have worn or deteriorated wiring and insulation that could start a fire. Check all of your appliances regularly. Check electrical cords and connections to make sure they are in good condition and function properly

How often have you taken your charcoal bag and just put it in a cabinet or storage closet after barbecuing? If the coal is damp, it could self ignite itself and start a serious fire. To help prevent fire, place the charcoal in a metal pail or garbage can and secure it tightly with a lid. Store the container in a cool, dry place that has enough space to let heat escape should the coals self-ignite.

Make sure that you hang oil or solvent soaked rags outside so that they can properly dry after you work on your car, lawnmowers, etc. Oily rags that are piled up can ignite themselves and cause a serious fire. I lay used rags on top of the trash bag on collection day and never allow too many to accumulate.

Do you collect match books and throw them in a drawer? There's a pretty good chance we have all done this. Matches can easily ignite if they rub against a rough surface, and lighters canaccidentally ignite if the wheel moves in just the right way. If you keep matches and lighters in your house, make sure they are out of a child's reach and they are stored in a safe, dry place away from anything that might accidentally ignite them.

Stacking and storing clothes to the top of the closet might not seem like a big deal. However, if your wool sweater or cotton T-shirt touches an exposed light bulb, it could lead to a fire. 12% of all house fires start in a closet because homeowners ignore the closet light fixtures and stack combustible materials close to the glowing, hot bulb. Prevent a disaster from happening inside your closet by replacing an exposed bulb with a properly enclosed light fixtures and keeping your belongings far away from the light bulb.

Dust bunnies are also a potential for danger to your safety. Dust can be a fire hazard if it collects near floor heaters, electronics, computers and sockets. A simple spark can ignite dust piles and cause a fire. Regularly dusting and vacuuming can significantly reduce the amount of dust that lingers near your electrical outlets and appliances. Pay special attention to the back of entertainment centers and any crevices that might collect dust.