Sunday, October 24, 2021

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Your RV’s roof vent and fan are dirty! Here’s how to clean them

I looked up yesterday to see if the fan vents were open and YUCK! The screens and fan blades were filthy! They were so dusty I was surprised the fan was drawing air out at all. In all fairness, we had just spent six months in the desert and the vent does have a decorative slotted wood trim piece covering it, so I really had to look through it to see the screen…

It was certainly time for a deep cleaning. The dirty screen could only hinder airflow and be harder on the fan motor.

Here’s what I did to clean it:

Steps to a clean roof fan vent and screen

  1. First, I easily pulled off the wood trim piece – it just snaps in place with cabinet grabbers.
  2. I went over the area with a vacuum but nothing budged – the dust was stuck.
  3. I Googled ways how to get the screen off without breaking it. A number of instructions came up:
    1. One person posted that when he changes the screen, he finds the finger indent and starts putting his fingers all around the inside pulling down and swearing softly. When finally getting the “*&$# off” he hands it to his wife to put in the dishwasher and has a beer. At least I didn’t have the expectation it would be easy.
    2. Another person gets on the roof and pushes the tabs down so the screen doesn’t break. That sounded like too much work. Anyway, it would mean taking the bicycle and bicycle rack off the ladder and that really was too much work…
  4. I took the first suggestion and just ran my fingers under the screen starting at the finger indent, gently tugging downward. Without swearing softly, although I do think that would have helped, it popped off without shattering and I was able to really see how dirty it was. Success!
  5. Next, I sprayed the screen with 409, brushed it, rinsed it, and repeated those steps. Then I set it aside to dry. For anyone that loves 409 and noticed it has not been available, Amazon now stocks it again.
  6. I stood on a low stool to wipe off the fan blades. The fan blade can also be taken off but wiping each blade individually worked well.
  7. Next time one of us is on the roof, we will wipe off the inside and the exterior of the vent cover too.
  8. Finally, I reinstalled the screen, popped in the wood trim, and could see the sky again. A breath of fresh air, literally!

Photo Credit Nanci Dixon

Helpful cleaning vent fan and AC filter videos

Both videos below were helpful to me when learning different cleaning techniques. The second one shows cleaning the AC filters too – another thing that should be done!

##RVDT1694

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Tim Slack
1 month ago

Hi Nanci (& Jimmy),
Thx for reporting on your process. We have the same fans and MaxxAir covers. I clean the screens when they start looking ‘fuzzy’, just pluck them down and use a shop brush on them – outside! I ordered the pull-down screens years ago to replace the screw-on ones. Cleaning the fan itself, I use vinegar & water and paper towels, also clean around inside the fan housing. How often is based on what it looks like – since we have a cat, the front vent gets a little more frequent attention. That one’s also closest to the stove so it gets oil particles as well, making the blades a bit more sticky. For a/c, I ordered thin foam filters from Tiffin supply, took off each round louvered ceiling vent and fit the filter directly to the inside of the vent, securely sandwiched between the vent cover and a margin around the perimeter of the ceiling duct in addition to pressing onto the central pivot. I vacuum those as needed. See ya down the road!

Drew
1 month ago

I just clean ours in the kitchen sink with dish soap and brush. The screens are pretty cheap- I ordered 2 more years ago and still have one left. The old ones used about 5 or 6 screws to hold them up there….a much better system in my opinion.

tom
1 month ago

For a quick removal of dust and pet fur from the inside vent screen, gently use duct tape and “dust” it off. Works well enough for in between heavy cleaning jobs.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

The finger ‘indent’ is the way to start taking that ring off, but it feels like it wants to cut your finger off! So, I grabbed my Harbor Freight “trim and molding set” and easily worked my way around the ring. I just did this last week. Only one tab broke off, which turns out to be a good thing. It makes it way easier to put the ring back up, and there’s still plenty of tabs to hold it in place. The other vent had no broken tabs and putting the ring back up was, um, harder.

DPHooper
1 month ago

Another good write up Nanci. I clean mine more often but they are a #!§. Simple Green is what I have used for years in place of 409. It’s a great product.
Now I have to go look for that finger indent.
we use MaxxAir covers over our fans too.

Joe
1 month ago

When on the road I clean the vent fan screens and blades about every 4 weeks, also include the AC filters. Once a year I clean the condenser and evaporator on the AC and check the AC gasket for tightness (about 30 inch pounds) due to it being the largest contributor to roof leaks and damage.

Ken
1 month ago

Yes we were missing the 409. Noticed last winter in Yuma. On this particular job too. HD now has 409 too

Fred
1 month ago

I have Maxx Air vent covers, which do help some to reduce the dirt & dust buildup, but I clean the screen 3-4 times per year & the blades at least once a year.

Brad G. Hancock NH
1 month ago

I installed MAXX AIR vent covers on all 3 of my roof vents. This allows me to keep the vent covers open without the worry of rain. It does reduce the dust issue.