Can an Air Conditioner Catch on Fire?

No homeowner ever wants to experience a house fire. Even a small blaze can cause significant property damage and injuries, so most people do everything possible to avoid them. 

Fire prevention is especially critical when using space heaters, and most people know the risk of using them incorrectly. But can an air conditioner catch on fire? It might be surprising to learn that your AC unit could be a fire hazard under the right conditions.

TropiCool, Westerville’s professional AC maintenance leader, explains why air conditioners can create a fire risk and what you can do to prevent a tragedy. In the meantime, if you have any issues with your AC, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (614) 532-4748

5 Reasons an AC Unit Can Be a Fire Hazard

When you consider the number of moving parts inside the average air conditioning unit, the amount of heat it produces, and the fact that it uses electricity, it’s easier to see why it’s at risk of catching fire. Some of the most frequent problems that lead to fire include the following. 

1. Electrical Problems 

Faulty wiring is one of the most common reasons for an air conditioner fire. Incorrectly connected wires and or units that draw too much power can cause a short circuit and a spark that can cause a fire if it lands on something flammable. Damaged wires can also result in a fire, so regular maintenance is essential to keeping electrical components in good shape. 

2. Overheating 

Can an air conditioner catch on fire just because you use it on an especially hot day? If you neglect regular maintenance, it’s possible.

When the outdoor temperatures soar, it’s tempting to crank up the cooling system to keep your home more comfortable. But when you do this, you’re putting additional strain on a machine that’s already working hard to keep up. Add in the fact that the coils and filter may be dirty, mechanical parts may require adjustment and lubrication, or your unit may have undiagnosed problems, and there’s a chance that the air conditioner could overheat from working so hard and start a fire.

3. Dirty Filters 

The most common advice that air conditioning technicians offer homeowners is to change the AC unit filter regularly. This can mean replacing the filter as often as once a month in some homes, but on average, they recommend a fresh filter every 60 to 90 days. Filters remove contaminants from the air so the cool air coming from vents is clean, but as the dust and debris accumulate, it blocks airflow into the unit. 

Whenever air cannot flow freely through the unit, there’s a risk of a fire causing backdraft or overheating.  Even if it doesn’t cause a fire, the extra heat puts additional strain on mechanical parts and affects the air conditioner’s performance.

4. Improper Storage

Storing items like paper, cleaning products, aerosols, and sprays close to the air conditioner creates a fire risk. Not only does an AC unit give off heat that can cause these items to ignite, but it may also create sparks that can lead to a fire. Keep the area around the outside AC unit clear of leaves and other combustibles as well, since a spark could easily set them burning. 

5. Improper Installation 

Attempting to install or service an air conditioning system without proper training is usually a recipe for disaster. Air conditioners are complex, and without in-depth training and experience, it’s easy to make mistakes that can damage the equipment, prevent it from working correctly, or even eventually cause a fire. It’s better to leave air conditioning work to the professionals to protect your home and family.

Choose TropiCool for Reliable Air Conditioning Maintenance

The best way to reduce the risk of your air conditioner catching fire is to invest in professional maintenance. TropiCool recommends a complete inspection and service visit at least once a year to ensure the unit is in top condition. During a maintenance visit, the technician will clean and lubricate critical components, check wiring, ensure the unit has enough refrigerant, and check for any potential trouble spots that require repair. 

Get in Touch Today 

If learning the answer to, “Can an air conditioner catch on fire?” has you concerned about your home’s cooling system, call TropiCool in Westerville, OH, at (614) 532- 7478 for a maintenance appointment. Don’t risk DIY AC repair or an overheated unit on the next brutally hot day, and call us for peace of mind.  

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