The return of low temperatures increases your dependency on home heating equipment each fall. If your furnace isn’t operating properly, it may develop into a fire hazard and endanger your family’s safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating systems like furnaces are a major source of home fires, leading to approximately 50,000 blazes, 500 civilian deaths and more than $1 billion in significant property damage annually. Space heaters and fireplaces cause most of the fires involving heating equipment, but central heaters, including furnaces, are responsible for just about 12% of these blazes. Learn more about the most likely causes of furnace fires and how to avoid them.
Old furnaces are more susceptible to safety hazards since they may be manufactured differently and slide into disrepair through the years. Nevertheless, 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 several ways. Here are the main risks:
Yard waste, animal nests and other materials can clog the furnace flue, lowering oxygen. This causes soot building up and bad ventilation, lowering 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 remains, your heating equipment may be severely damaged, and the fire can spread to areas outside the furnace.
The heat exchanger is a closed combustion chamber where the heat created by your furnace is moved to the air circulating within your home. A heat exchanger blocked with soot or corrosion has the same effect as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and a higher risk of flame rollout.
Numerous problems can take place if corrosion breaks the heat exchanger. First, it affects suction in this chamber, triggering less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it produces fumes, including carbon monoxide, into your home. Inhaling CO gas can be fatal, so never neglect your carbon monoxide alarms. CO gas can also return to the source of the leak and ignite if a flame is lit.
Furnaces require an accurate 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 causes unwanted condensation in the heat exchanger, increasing 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 combust. 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 fixing a problem with your furnace? Whatever the case, 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, providing 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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