HVAC Related Fires and How to Prevent Them

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If you have a relative or a friend who’s been through the extreme misfortune of a house fire, you know it’s one of the most traumatic experiences a homeowner will ever go through. Seeing a family’s possessions, hopes and aspirations go up in flames is utterly tragic. In the United States, over 350,000 homes are affected each year with fires causing billions of dollars in damages. Fires caused by HVAC related issues are particularly frustrating because many, if not most HVAC fires are utterly preventable. It’s ironic that the very appliance charged with cooling your home can also, if faulty or left neglected, be responsible for torching your dreams.

As any fireman will tell you, most fires would never happen if homeowners would simply pay attention to typical home danger zones and fire hazards and practice solid home maintenance preventive measures. Oddly, when queried, most homeowners feel that though they are aware house fires occur, it will never happen to them. Why is that?

Optimism Bias

The term, “optimism bias” (also known as unrealistic optimism) states most people believe they are at less risk of going through a negative experience, like a fire, than their neighbors or someone on the news. The danger of this kind of rosy thinking is it gives people a false sense of security and blinds them to taking basic steps to protect their homes.

Home HVAC Fire Hazards

When a fireman walks through your home, he sees things differently than you do. Here are some of the most common HVAC related fire hazards:

  • Electrical issues are the number one reason for HVAC-related fires. When people purchase homes, they don’t always know the history of their HVAC units. As appliances get older, the wear and tear can cause issues with electrical wiring or circuits. HVAC units pull a lot of power, and they can overheat when they are running full tilt for hours or even days at a time during a summer heatwave. Knowing the condition of your HVAC unit, inside and out is essential to preventing dangerous situations. If your unit has not been serviced recently, it’s a good idea to have a professional check it out. Maybe you haven’t had any problems with your unit in years. Don’t let your optimism bias prevent you from having regular checkups for your HVAC unit.
  • HVAC units in the garage or basement are sometimes incorrectly used as shelves or “temporary” storage areas, which is especially dangerous in cramped quarters. Setting boxes, paints, chemicals, cleaning solutions or anything at all on an HVAC unit is a very bad idea. The area surrounding your HVAC unit should always be completely clear.
  • Improperly installed units with poorly fitted connections can sometimes go unnoticed for years. Many HVAC related fires are the result of a mistake made by an installer which went undetected until some other factor (such as an earthquake) occurs. A good technician will check all the fittings, gas and electrical lines connecting to your unit.

Schedule an AC Home Inspection with a Professional

Springtime is a great season to schedule a home inspection. Don’t wait for the first heatwave to hit when HVAC companies are deluged with calls. Call Cool Blew today!

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