The return of cold temperatures increases your dependency on home heating equipment in the fall. If your furnace isn’t functioning correctly, it could develop into a fire hazard and endanger your family’s safety.
As stated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a major cause of home fires, leading to almost 50,000 blazes, 500 civilian deaths and more than $1 billion in significant property damage every year. Space heaters and fireplaces generate the majority of fires involving heating equipment, but central heaters, such as furnaces, are liable for around 12% of these blazes. Find out more about the leading causes of furnace fires and how to minimize them.
Causes of Furnace Fires
Older furnaces are more exposed to safety hazards because they could be designed differently and slide into disrepair through the years. Nevertheless, whether your furnace is more than a decade old or brand new, you should be familiar with these causes of furnace fires.
A furnace motor can overheat in different ways. Here are the most common risks:
- A clogged filter can restrict airflow and force the motor to work more. Eventually, the motor may overheat, increasing the risk of fire.
- Dirt can gather around and coat the motor, forcing it to hold heat, which can cause a fire.
- Exposed or deteriorated wiring can cause the voltage to elevate, increasing the risk of an electrical fire.
- Exceedingly tight or damaged motor bearings can heat up whenever the furnace starts. Without the appropriate lubrication, the bearings can eventually light on fire.
Obstructed Furnace Flue
Yard debris, animal nests and other obstructions can block the furnace flue, reducing oxygen. This leads to soot accumulation and weaker ventilation, limiting efficiency and raising the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire escapes the heat exchanger and burns the parts within your furnace. If this problem remains, your heating equipment may be badly damaged, and the fire may even spread to areas outside the furnace.
Clogged Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is a restricted combustion chamber where the heat generated by your furnace is exchanged to the air circulating throughout your home. A heat exchanger blocked with soot or corrosion has the same impact as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and a bigger risk of flame rollout.
Cracked Heat Exchanger
Several problems can take place if corrosion cracks the heat exchanger. First, it affects suction inside this chamber, resulting in less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it emits fumes, including carbon monoxide, into your home. Breathing CO gas can be lethal, so never ignore your carbon monoxide alarms. CO gas can also return to the source of the leak and ignite if a flame is found.
Inadequate Gas Pressure
Furnaces depend on a precise combination of natural gas and air to ensure safe and efficient combustion. Too little pressure is often because of clogged burner orifices. This problem makes the burner flames more likely to roll out. It also causes unwanted condensation within the heat exchanger, accelerating the rate of corrosion.
On the other hand, high gas pressure can produce excessive heat within the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to ignite. Such fires can easily spread to other areas.
How to Prevent Furnace Fires
Based on the various ways a furnace can light on fire, here are the steps you can take to prevent furnace fires:
- Change the air filter consistently: Check the filter monthly and change it when it appears dirty or every three months, whichever comes first.
- Keep an eye on the furnace flue: Examine the exterior vent for obstructions and remove any you find.
- Don’t keep combustible items around the furnace: Things such as cardboard boxes, paper, clothing and other combustibles should be kept at least 3 feet away from the furnace and all other heating equipment.
- Put in a flame rollout switch: This safety component recognizes if a fire or hot exhaust gases are inside your furnace’s burner compartment. If the rollout switch trips, have your furnace inspected as soon as possible to diagnose and repair the problem before it causes a furnace fire.
- Request yearly furnace maintenance: It isn’t always easy to tell if your furnace is operating unsafely. Whether you notice warning signs or not, remember furnace maintenance every fall.
Schedule Furnace Services Today
Is it time for your yearly tune-up? Do you need help taking care of a problem with your furnace? Whatever the case, Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air is here for you. Our HVAC professionals can inspect, clean and test the system to guarantee safe operation. If anything looks out of place, we’ll recommend a repair or a modification, offering you peace of mind that your furnace is unlikely to catch fire. For more information or to schedule furnace maintenance, please contact your local Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air office