A Fire Sparked By Your Air Conditioning System? It's More Likely Than You Think

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A fire erupting inside your air conditioner seems like a far-fetched thing, but you'd be surprised at how often it happens. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 7,400 home structure fires were linked to air conditioning, fans and related equipment. To keep yourself and others safe, you'll want to know how these fires can happen and what you can do to prevent them.

How Air Conditioner Fires Happen

As it turns out, there are plenty of issues that could place your air conditioner at risk of catching fire. The following outlines some of the more common causes that could eventually lead to a fire:

  • Keeping combustible materials near the unit - Storing gasoline, paper and other combustible materials near the unit can increase the likelihood of it catching fire. Leaves and other debris can also prove flammable.
  • Poor air conditioner maintenance - Allowing dirt and dust to accumulate within the air conditioner unabated can increase its risk of catching fire.
  • Faulty components - An overheating fan blower motor or malfunctioning compressor has the potential to catch fire as it breaks down, increasing your unit's fire risk significantly.
  • Installation errors - Short circuits caused by bad wiring, incorrectly wired components and other installation errors could potentially spark a fire within the air conditioner during operation.
  • Water leaks - Water leaks caused by a clogged condensate drain or drip tray failure could drip onto an electrical part, creating a potential fire hazard.

Fire Prevention Tips

Prevention is always the best policy when it comes to potential fire hazards. Here are a few tips you can use to protect yourself and loved ones from a potential fire:

  • Always keep the space around your air conditioner free of any and all combustible materials. Never use your A/C system's utility closet as a storage area.
  • Have your air conditioner regularly serviced by a qualified HVAC technician. Your HVAC technician will not only clean the unit thoroughly, but also inspect the unit in search of any potential problems that could cause an air conditioner fire later on.
  • If you suspect there's a problem with your air conditioner that could result in a fire, stop using it immediately and call your HVAC technician. Continued usage could dramatically increase the likelihood of a fire being started.

If you're using a portable air conditioner, refrain from using ordinary extension cords or power strips to extend the air conditioner's reach. These devices can easily overload and eventually catch fire. Contact an HVAC services professional to prevent problems, as these experts can conduct essential preventive maintenance.