The return of cooler temperatures increases your dependence on home heating equipment every fall. If your furnace isn’t operating correctly, it could grow to be a fire hazard and threaten your family’s safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a top source of home fires, leading to almost 50,000 blazes, 500 civilian deaths and more than $1 billion in direct property damage each year. Space heaters and fireplaces cause most of the fires involving heating equipment, but central heaters, including furnaces, are accountable for around 12% of these blazes. Learn more about the primary causes of furnace fires and how to prevent them.
Older furnaces are more vulnerable to safety hazards since they may be configured differently and slide into disrepair over the years. That being said, whether your furnace is more than a decade old or brand new, you should know about these causes of furnace fires.
A furnace motor can overheat in various ways. Here are the main risks:
Yard debris, animal nests and other obstructions can clog the furnace flue, restricting oxygen. This causes soot buildup and weaker ventilation, limiting efficiency and increasing the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire escapes the heat exchanger and burns the parts inside your furnace. If this problem persists, your heating equipment may be seriously damaged, and the fire could spread to areas outside the furnace.
The heat exchanger is a sealed combustion chamber where the heat produced by your furnace is moved to the air circulating throughout your home. A heat exchanger clogged with soot or corrosion has the same result as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and an increased risk of flame rollout.
Numerous problems occur if corrosion damages the heat exchanger. First, it affects suction inside this chamber, leading to less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it emits fumes, such as carbon monoxide, into your home. Breathing in CO gas can be lethal, so never ignore your carbon monoxide alarms. CO gas can also flash back to the source of the leak and ignite if a flame is lit.
Furnaces require an exact mixture of natural gas and air to produce 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 produces unwanted condensation within the heat exchanger, increasing the rate of corrosion.
On the other hand, high gas pressure can create excessive heat inside the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to burn. Such fires can readily spread to other areas.
Based on the listed ways a furnace can catch fire, here are the steps you can take to prevent furnace fires:
Is it time for your annual tune-up? Do you need help taking care of a problem with your furnace? Whatever the reason, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing 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 perform a repair or a modification, offering you peace of mind that your furnace is unlikely to catch fire. For more details or to schedule furnace maintenance, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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