October 4th – 10th is Fire Prevention Week, marking a great opportunity to learn how to keep our homes, businesses, and other spaces safe from preventable fire hazards. Although the National Fire Protection Association is focusing its efforts this year on educating people about cooking-related fire hazards (since cooking fires account for the majority of home fires), it’s still important to learn how you can limit preventable fire hazards at any business or facility. Some of the culprits worth remembering are HVAC fire hazards, as they never seem to be that important until it’s far too late.
The most common HVAC fire hazard by far is a loose electrical connection. Over time, wiring connections can become loose due to the vibration of HVAC equipment. These connections can generate significant heat due to the reduced amount of conductor material transmitting an electrical load, which in turn may damage or burn wiring insulation. The result is potentially exposed wiring that can short circuit if it touches grounded metal.
Another problematic hazard is a damaged heat exchanger. When damaged, a heat exchanger may no longer completely seal off the flame from other components of a heater as well as the space it’s heating. This can cause carbon monoxide and other combustion byproducts to enter a space that requires clean air, leading to potential air quality issues and ultimately, an explosive fire hazard.
Improper fuel conditions also pose a serious concern. Fuel leaks will obviously create a major fire hazard, but high gas pressure is another issue worth considering. When gas pressure is abnormally high, a heat exchanger may become dangerously hot. This will not only cause inevitable damage to the heat exchanger and other components of the unit, but it’s essentially a fire waiting to happen.
Lastly, it’s important that the area surrounding a furnace is clear of clutter. Since the unit can get quite hot during operation, any flammable materials that are near or leaning on the unit are at risk of catching fire. This is the most preventable fire hazard related to HVAC equipment, since anyone can take the time to ensure that the furnace area is free of other objects.
In general, the best way to discover and amend these fire hazards is to perform regular maintenance of your HVAC system. A technician will not only spot potential fire risks, but they will also ensure that your system is functioning properly and isn’t at risk of breaking down in the future, so maintenance is well worth the cost. And if the maintenance or repair means your HVAC system will be out of commission for a certain period of time, a temporary HVAC solution from Mobile Air & Power Rentals will ensure that your facility still has proper ventilation and temperature control during that process.