It’s common practice to have your smoke curtains tested and serviced throughout the year. This ensures your equipment is operational and your building stays in compliance with building codes for smoke control.
But is there more you should be doing with your smoke curtain maintenance to ensure everything stays in working order?
Cleaning smoke curtains should be an important part of ensuring their functionality and longevity. Let’s look at a few ways you should approach cleaning smoke curtains and how you can incorporate cleaning them into your regular maintenance routine.
Before You Get Started: While there are a few different ways you can clean smoke curtains, there are some important things to avoid doing in the process, which are outlined below. You don’t want to compromise your smoke curtain’s warranty.
Remember that all smoke curtains are different and may contain various types of fabrics and coatings. If you have questions about cleaning, be sure to talk to a smoke and fire curtain maintenance professional and always refer to the manufacturer’s specific cleaning instructions
Textile-Based Smoke and Fire Curtains
Textile-based smoke curtains are made from woven fibers and then coated. They are most often used for wall openings and other large spaces like atriums, theaters, schools and auditoriums and housed in the ceiling, programmed to deploy vertically when triggered by a fire and smoke system.
To clean textile-based smoke curtains:
Do not use water.
It is extremely important that these curtains do not get wet. Water can have adverse effects on the curtain’s coating, compromising its strength and resistance to smoke and fire. In addition to damaging the fabric and coating, water exposure also leads to the risk of growing mold and mildew on curtains, since it is so difficult for them to dry completely.
Gently wipe down the curtain using a soft cloth or a very soft bristle brush.
A soft cloth or a very soft bristle brush can be used to clean the curtain’s surface. If you aren’t sure about what type of cloth or brush to use, check the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Use pressurized air.
Pressurized air may be used, but at low pressures only. Using high pressure can damage the curtain’s coating or remove the coating completely.
Polyimide Film Smoke and Fire Curtains
Polyimide film smoke curtains are typically found in elevator openings and are also programmed to deploy vertically when triggered by a fire and smoke system. These curtains are used in combination with an elevator’s fire-rated doors.
To clean polyimide film curtains:
To clean polyimide film curtains:
Do not use water, but you can gently wipe the curtain using a mildly damp cloth.
Like textile-based smoke and fire curtains, you should never use water on film curtains. But depending on the directions provided by the manufacturer, you may be able to use a “slightly damp” cloth. When you are thinking of using this option, it’s best to imagine a cloth that is moist to the touch but should not leave behind water or wet streaks.
Only use mild soap as a cleaning agent.
Some manufacturers will also allow the use of a mild soap with a slightly damp cloth. This should be practiced only if it is a manufacturer-approved cleaning method.
Stay away from harsh chemicals and soaps.
Stay away from all types of abrasive cleaners or those that use strong chemicals and soaps to clean. These high-powered cleaners will damage the film’s coating.
Other Ways to Keep Smoke and Fire Curtains Clean and Operating Smoothly
Depending on your local fire and building codes, your smoke curtains need to be inspected and professionally serviced up to twice a year (this will vary depending on your location). This guarantees your building is always in compliance with codes, standards and insurance requirements.
You don’t have to wait for these professional servicing appointments to conduct other testing and maintenance, however. There are many things you can do in between inspections and servicing visits to ensure your smoke and fire curtains are clean and working properly.
Creating a regular smoke curtain maintenance routine is one way to ensure your smoke curtains are always clean, functional and up to code.
- Assign a team member to routinely check smoke and fire curtains to see if they need cleaning.
- Keep an accurate log of all system checks and note when you last cleaned the curtains.
- Have at least one member of your building’s maintenance team trained by the manufacturer of your smoke management system.
- Operate the curtains monthly (weekly if the curtain is part of an escape route).
- Operate your entire smoke and fire control system every three months.
- Look for obstructions that are in the deployment area of smoke and fire curtains and remove them.
- At each check, note if there have been any changes in the building’s layout and how it could impact the performance of your smoke curtains.