The return of cold temperatures increases your dependence on home heating equipment in the fall. If your furnace isn’t operating correctly, it could develop into a fire hazard and threaten your family’s safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a leading cause of home fires, causing nearly 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 concerning heating equipment, but central heaters, including furnaces, are liable for about 12% of these blazes. Find out more about the primary causes of furnace fires and how to minimize them.
Older furnaces are more exposed to safety hazards because they could be designed differently and fall into disrepair over the years. Still, 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 various ways. Here are the biggest risks:
Yard debris, animal nests and other obstructions can clog the furnace flue, restricting oxygen. This leads to soot buildup and improper ventilation, lowering efficiency and increasing the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire reaches past the heat exchanger and burns the parts inside your furnace. If this problem persists, your heating equipment may be severely damaged, and the fire may even spread to areas outside the furnace.
The heat exchanger is a sealed combustion chamber where the heat created by your furnace is moved to the air circulating throughout your home. A heat exchanger clogged with soot or corrosion has the same effect as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and an increased risk of flame rollout.
Various problems occur if corrosion breaks the heat exchanger. First, it reduces suction inside this chamber, resulting in less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it releases fumes, including carbon monoxide, into your home. Inhaling CO gas can be deadly, so never dismiss your carbon monoxide alarms. CO gas can also flash back to the source of the leak and ignite if a flame is present.
Furnaces require an accurate combination of natural gas and air to generate 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 causes unwanted condensation inside the heat exchanger, accelerating the rate of corrosion.
On the other hand, high gas pressure can produce excessive heat inside the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to combust. Such fires can readily spread to other areas.
Based on the different ways a furnace can catch fire, here are the steps you can take to prevent furnace fires:
Is it time for your yearly tune-up? Do you need help resolving a problem with your furnace? Whatever the case, Midway Services is here for you. Our HVAC experts can inspect, clean and test the system to ensure safe operation. If anything doesn’t seem right, we’ll recommend a repair or a modification, giving you peace of mind that your furnace is unlikely to catch fire. For more information or to schedule furnace maintenance, please contact your local Midway Services office today.
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