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How do I Avoid an Attic Fire?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are numerous ways to eliminate the risk of an attic fire in your home. An attic fire may occur when wiring has become frayed or torn. Checking the electrical wiring in your attic is one measure you can take. Examining your chimney lining for flaws is another step that can help prevent an attic fire. Ensuring proper ventilation for your attic is also essential.

Some fire safety experts believe the installation of a whole house fan or attic fan may pose an increased risk for attic fires. That said, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of attic fan installation. If you cool your home with an attic fan, be sure it is constructed of quality material, such as metal. Plastic fan parts may pose a fire hazard.

If your home attic houses a water heater or furnace, be sure you have adequate venting. Lack of ventilation may create ideal conditions for an attic fire. It's also a good idea to examine the water heater flue occasionally. Check for debris or bird nests that may block ventilation.

Regular use of a fireplace requires yearly inspection as well. If you wish, you may check for hidden dangers yourself, but is is recommended to have a professional run a sweep or inspection on a yearly basis. Failing to comply with proper chimney maintenance could put you at risk for an attic fire. As part of a chimney sweep, the qualified professional will remove soot, bird nests or other materials that have built up in the chimney.

Another tip for avoiding an attic fire is to simply clean up the area. This is especially true if you have a finished attic for storage use or one that is occupied for entertainment or sleeping purposes. Never leave appliances plugged in when they're not in use and don't overload your electrical outlets. Watch out for loose curtains or window furnishings that block vents. Don't store boxes or other items too close to a vent and, most importantly, do not store combustible items that may ignite in your attic.

If your home's siding has been constructed of flammable materials, this could ignite and put you at risk for an attic fire as well. If you plan to remodel your home, be sure to comply with all safety codes and regulations. Stucco or other options may be safer alternatives to wood siding. Also, consider using materials that are non-volatile for your roofing projects instead of wood.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Drentel — On Nov 01, 2014

@Feryll - I have an attic fan and have never had a problem with the fan or an attic fire. The fan has been installed for years. Buy a quality metal fan and you should be fine. The cheap plastic fans are the ones you have to be concerned about for the most part.

By Feryll — On Nov 01, 2014

I am planning to put an attic fan in our attic to help keep out the moisture and hopefully avoid any issues with mold growing in that space. There is an old fan already up there, but it doesn't work and needs to be replaced. However, I would rather have the mold than an attic fire, so reading this article makes me wonder whether or not I should install the attic fan.

By Animandel — On Oct 31, 2014

I don't know whether an attic is any more likely to catch on fire than another part of your house, but the attic is a place where a fire can get out of control in a hurry.

A family in our neighborhood was burned out of there home when a fire started in the attic and quickly spread. The family members said they heard the smoke detector in the attic sound, and they were going up to see what was causing it to go off. Like most people would, they assumed it was malfunctioning, but they still went to check immediately.

By the time the husband got half way up the pull-down attic stairs, the fire was already too hot and had spread too much for him to go any farther. Fortunately, the entire family got out of the house safely.

They later learned that the fire was sparked by an exposed wire, and the reason it spread so quickly was because of all of the newspapers, and other old papers and fabrics stored up there. There were also a lot of cardboard boxes. And once these items began to burn it was only a matter of time before the fire retardant insulation burst into flames as well.

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