What are the Fire Hazards Connected with Central Heat and Air?

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Central heat and air conditioning systems, also known as split systems, use the same air ducts to transport heated or cooled air to rooms in a home. The system uses a central heating and cooling unit to produce the air that is pumped throughout the home and dispersed by floor and wall vents. Although this system is usually reliable, problems left untreated can result in a fire hazard.

Electrical Component Problems

  • Central heat and air systems share air ducts and some electrical components that enable air generated from a central source to flow throughout the home. Over time, electrical parts can become corroded and frayed, which exposes charged electrical wires in the walls and floors. Unless these faulty wires are identified and replaced, they can start an electrical fire in the home when the system is in use. Routine system inspection can identify damaged electrical components.

Connection, Gas Pressure or Burner Issues

  • The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that homeowners have a professional inspect their central heat and air conditioning systems once per year. The inspection should include checking the gas or oil connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger to ensure each is performing properly. When connections malfunction, they not only negatively impact air quality, but also present a fire hazard. A gas leak can cause a fire when a flame is ignited in the home. Moreover, a dirty or faulty heat exchanger affects burner operation and can cause a fire inside the unit.

Clutter Near the Furnace

  • Do not allow clutter to accumulate around your furnace. Not only does it impact the performance of your heater, but it's also a fire hazard. The area around the furnace can become extremely hot when the heater is turned on. Loose papers, clothing and flammable liquids can ignite when in contact with intense heat for an extended period of time, resulting in a fire.

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