The return of cold temperatures raises your dependency on home heating equipment in the fall. If your furnace isn’t operating properly, it may develop into a fire hazard and endanger your family’s safety.
As reported by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a top cause of home fires, causing approximately 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 affecting heating equipment, but central heaters, such as furnaces, are liable for around 12% of these blazes. Learn more about the primary causes of furnace fires and how to minimize them.
Aging furnaces are more susceptible to safety concerns because they might be configured differently and slide into disrepair through the years. Still, 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 various ways. Here are the main risks:
Yard debris, animal nests and other materials can block the furnace flue, restricting oxygen. This leads to soot accumulation and bad ventilation, decreasing efficiency and raising the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire gets out of the heat exchanger and burns the parts inside your furnace. If this problem remains, your heating equipment can be seriously damaged, and the fire can spread to areas outside the furnace.
The heat exchanger is a restricted combustion chamber where the heat generated by your furnace is moved to the air circulating within your home. A heat exchanger clogged up with soot or corrosion has the same result as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and an increased risk of flame rollout.
Several problems can happen if corrosion breaks the heat exchanger. First, it lowers suction within this chamber, leading to less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it emits fumes, such as carbon monoxide, into your home. Breathing CO gas can be fatal, so never dismiss your carbon monoxide alarms. CO gas can also return to the source of the leak and ignite if a flame is found.
Furnaces require a precise mixture of natural gas and air to create safe and efficient combustion. Too little pressure is often the result of clogged burner orifices. This problem makes the burner flames more likely to roll out. It also produces unwanted condensation in the heat exchanger, increasing the rate of corrosion.
Conversely, high gas pressure can lead to excessive heat within the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to burn. Such fires can readily spread to other areas.
Based on the different ways a furnace can combust, here are the steps you can take to avoid furnace fires:
Is it time for your yearly tune-up? Do you need help resolving 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 ensure safe operation. If anything doesn’t seem right, we’ll suggest 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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