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Protect Your HVAC System with Duct Detectors!

Do you have a forced air HVAC system in your Houston, Texas building? If so, are your ducts protected from fire and smoke? Smoke from a fire in one room could travel through your ductwork into all of the other rooms in your building, or an overheating fan motor can spark a fire in the ducts and you wouldn’t even know it – unless you had a duct detector installed!

What is a duct detector?

According to the NFPA, the primary purpose of Houston duct smoke detectors is to prevent injury, panic and property damage by first identifying the fact that smoke is traveling through your building’s ductwork – and then immediately shutting down your building’s air handlers.  A duct detector is, as the name suggests, a small electrical device installed in your HVAC ducts that detects smoke circulating through the system. What’s interesting about duct detectors, however, is what they actually do when they sense smoke – not only do they emit an audio alarm and send a signal to your alarm panel, but they also shut down the air handlers to stop the flow of the smoke and some systems will even will close dampers in your ductwork, thereby preventing the smoke from escaping.

Alternatively, your duct detector can be programmed to only stop the supply fan in your building while keeping the return fan running. This method actually helps pull the smoke laden air out of the building.

Duct detectors are extremely useful in cases where you wouldn’t normally be able to see a fire that starts. For instance, if the fan motor in your ductwork overheats and sparks, it could potentially start a fire that could bring down your whole building before you had time to react. A duct detector would be able to pick up on the fire much more quickly than a regular fire alarm or smoke detector and would not only alert the people inside your building, but in many cases would be able to effectively prevent the spread of the smoke or fire until the fire department arrives on scene.

Special Considerations for Duct Detectors

While duct smoke detectors are highly effective at responding to smoke hazards in your ductwork, there are some important things to keep in mind about them:

  • Duct detectors are not meant to be a substitute for area smoke detectors
  • Duct detectors are not meant to be a substitute for early warning detection
  • Duct detectors are not meant to be a replacement for a building’s regular fire detection system

The NFPA supports these points by saying that the protection that duct smoke detectors provides is intended to prevent the distribution of smoke through the supply air duct system and, preferably, to exhaust a significant quantity of smoke to the outside. They go on to note, however, that neither of these functions can guarantee the early detection of fire or the detection smoke concentrations before the concentrations reach dangerous levels. As a result, it is important that you only install duct smoke detectors as a supplement to your existing fire protection system.

If you own a building in the Houston, Texas area and you want to upgrade your level of fire protection, call Kauffman Co today. We can install a duct detector system in your HVAC ducts to make sure that you are protected on all sides, and of course, we can service and maintain your existing duct detectors!

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