The return of cooler temperatures boosts your dependency on home heating equipment every fall. If your furnace isn’t operating properly, it could grow to be a fire hazard and threaten your family’s safety.
As stated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating systems are a major factor of home fires, causing approximately 50,000 blazes, 500 civilian deaths and more than $1 billion in direct property damage annually. Space heaters and fireplaces start the majority of fires concerning heating equipment, but central heaters, like furnaces, are liable for about 12% of these blazes. Learn the leading causes of furnace fires and how to avoid them.
Causes of Furnace Fires
Old furnaces are more exposed to safety concerns as they might 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.
An Overheated Motor
A furnace motor can overheat in different ways. Here are the biggest risks:
- A clogged filter can block airflow and cause the motor to work more. At some point, the motor can overheat, elevating the risk of fire.
- Dirt can gather around and insulate the motor, forcing it to hold heat, which can lead to a fire.
- Exposed or damaged wiring can cause the voltage to increase too much, increasing the chances of an electrical fire.
- Excessively tight or damaged motor bearings can heat up whenever the furnace is on. Without adequate lubrication, the bearings could eventually light on fire.
Clogged Furnace Flue
Yard waste, animal nests and other obstructions can obstruct the furnace flue, reducing oxygen. This causes soot accumulation and weaker ventilation, lowering efficiency and increasing the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire gets out of the heat exchanger and burns the parts in your furnace. If this problem persists, your heating equipment could be badly damaged, and the fire can spread to areas outside the furnace.
Clogged Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is a restricted combustion chamber where the heat created by your furnace is moved to the air circulating throughout your home. A heat exchanger blocked with soot or corrosion has the same effect as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and an increased risk of flame rollout.
Cracked Heat Exchanger
Various problems can take place if corrosion breaks the heat exchanger. First, it lowers suction inside this chamber, resulting in less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it releases fumes, such as carbon monoxide, into your home. Breathing CO gas can be fatal, 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 present.
Improper Gas Pressure
Furnaces depend on an accurate mixture 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 inside the heat exchanger, increasing the rate of corrosion.
Conversely, high gas pressure can produce excessive heat within the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to burn. Such fires can quickly spread to other areas.
How to Prevent Furnace Fires
Based on the different ways a furnace can light on fire, here are the steps you can take to prevent furnace fires:
- Replace the air filter regularly: Check the filter each month and change it when it seems dirty or every three months, whichever comes first.
- Check the furnace flue: Inspect the exterior vent for obstructions and remove any you find.
- Don’t place combustible items close to the furnace: Things such as cardboard boxes, paper, clothing and other combustibles should be kept at a minimum 3 feet away from the furnace and any other heating equipment.
- Put in a flame rollout switch: This safety component detects if a fire or hot exhaust gases are inside your furnace’s burner compartment. If the rollout switch trips, have your furnace inspected promptly to diagnose and repair the problem before it produces a furnace fire.
- Schedule annual furnace maintenance: It isn’t always easy to recognize if your furnace is operating unsafely. Whether you notice warning signs or not, prioritize 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 is happening, Midway Services is here for you. Our HVAC professionals can inspect, clean and test the system to guarantee safe operation. If anything doesn't seem right, 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 Midway Services office