The return of cooler temperatures raises your dependence on home heating equipment each fall. If your furnace isn’t working properly, it might become a fire hazard and threaten your family’s safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating systems like furnaces are a top source of home fires, leading to approximately 50,000 blazes, 500 civilian deaths and more than $1 billion in direct property damage annually. Space heaters and fireplaces cause the majority of fires affecting heating equipment, but central heaters, like furnaces, are liable for around 12% of these blazes. Learn the primary causes of furnace fires and how to avoid them.
Older furnaces are more vulnerable to safety problems as they may be configured differently and settle into disrepair through the years. That being said, whether your furnace is more than a decade old or brand new, you should be aware of these causes of furnace fires.
A furnace motor can overheat in different ways. Here are the biggest risks:
Yard waste, animal nests and other obstructions can obstruct the furnace flue, lowering oxygen. This causes soot accumulation and improper ventilation, limiting efficiency and raising the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire escapes the heat exchanger and burns the parts in your furnace. If this problem persists, your heating equipment may be seriously damaged, and the fire may even spread to areas outside the furnace.
The heat exchanger is a restricted combustion chamber where the heat produced by your furnace is exchanged to the air circulating through your home. A heat exchanger clogged up with soot or corrosion has the same effect as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and a higher risk of flame rollout.
Various problems can happen if corrosion damages the heat exchanger. First, it affects suction inside this chamber, leading to less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it releases fumes, including carbon monoxide, into your home. Inhaling CO gas can be fatal, 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.
Furnaces depend on a precise combination 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 in the heat exchanger, accelerating the rate of corrosion.
Conversely, high gas pressure can lead to excessive heat in the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to combust. Such fires can readily spread to other areas.
Based on the various 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 fixing a problem with your furnace? Whatever is happening, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is here for you. Our HVAC experts can inspect, clean and test the system to ensure safe operation. If anything looks out of place, we’ll suggest a repair or a modification, offering you peace of mind that your furnace is unlikely to catch fire. For more info or to schedule furnace maintenance, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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