According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating, cooling and air conditioning (HVAC) systems caused thousands of home fires (that resulted in at least 29 deaths) in the year 2010. As a homeowner, it's good to know how these fires start so that you can prevent them. Here are four HVAC-related malfunctions that can lead to fire outbreaks:
Dirty Air Filters
Air filters are meant to clean the air entering the air conditioner. This means the filters trap debris in the air, and this debris needs to be periodically removed. If you don't do this, then the debris will end up clogging the unit's blower motor. Unfortunately, motors generate heat that needs to be carted away. When the motors are clogged with dirt, the dirt act as an insulator, making the motor to overheat and possibly catch fire. Keeping the system clean, particularly the filters and motors, will reduce this risk of fire.
Leaking Air Handlers
When an air handler starts leaking, it can short circuit the electrical components near it. An electrical short circuit can easily lead to a fire. Fortunately, this is something you can prevent by keeping the drain lines clear at all times. You also need to empty the drainage pump to prevent overflows.
For systems with gas-powered furnaces, gas leakage is one of the most obvious and dangerous causes of fires. Your system may experience gas leakage, for example, if its fuel supply connections aren't tight enough or are damaged. Using a non-professional technician or relying on DIY services can easily lead to such malfunctions. Use professional preventive maintenance practices through a place like #1 Air Source to keep yourself safe from dangers of gas leaks.
Different electrical malfunctions in the HVAC may also lead to fire outbreak. For example, the unit's vibrations can loosen some electrical wires, cause a short circuit and lead to a fire. Other electrical malfunctions that can cause fire include dirty fuses, wrong fuses, and faulty capacitors, among others. The only way to preempt such problems is to have regular inspections and maintenance of the system.
As you can see, a common theme in HVAC fire prevention is regular maintenance. That is the only way to catch and rectify teething problems before they can cause critical damage. You can buy a service contract from an HVAC company or schedule regular maintenance and pay out of your pocket; whichever option you choose, make sure the maintenance schedules are followed.