Air conditioners are excellent solutions to keep ourselves cool amidst the heat of the summer months. However, without proper care and maintenance they can go up in flames, causing irreversible damage to your home and property. According to a 2016 National Fire Protection Association report, A/C units cause an average of 140 injuries, 20 deaths, and more than $80 million in property damage every year.
That being said, you can eliminate the risk related to fire by ensuring you maintain your air conditioner properly and have a professional visiting your house to assess it regularly. So you may be asking, “Can a window air conditioner cause a fire?” Here are some common causes for AC units causing a fire, so you know how to keep your air conditioner – as well as yourself and your loved ones, as well — safe from harm.
1. Faulty Wiring
It’s paramount to have a heating and AC repair service provider insulate your AC unit’s wiring with electrical tape and replace the rusted ones. Make sure they leave nothing uncovered. Even a small patch that is not insulated can cause an electrical spark. For added safety, you may skip multiple extension plugs and wires and opt for a single fully insulated wiring. In addition to this, protect your wires from heating up by not placing them on doorways or wallpapers or under carpets or rugs.
2. Overheated Appliances
The load on the system is quite high during the summer months, with electrical appliances like air conditioners being in constant use. Add to that the possibility of fluctuations in the electrical voltage and you get a ticking bomb. To avoid any nasty situations such as a fire incident, it’s best to be safe than sorry and switch off your air conditioner periodically.
3. Wrongly Calculated Amperage
One of the most frequent mistakes when installing an air conditioning unit is the amperage, which is often miscalculated. The problem lies in the fact that the AC unit is not measured relative to the electrical capacity. In other words, your electrical wiring does not match the amperage of the AC unit. Also, beware of prong tools that have been replaced to fit the plugs. Many times, this shift can lead to a fire surge.
4. Delayed Maintenance
Dirt accumulates in the coils and vents of the air conditioner and blocks the smooth flow of air, which increases the risk of the AC unit choking. A fire break out is more than likely to happen in this case. That’s why it’s recommended to service your air conditioner both before and after the summertime.
5. Flammables Within Reach
Check the AC unit’s site before you install it for appliances, bushes, leaves, and other kinds of debris near the outdoor unit. These can increase the risk of your AC unit catching fire.
6. Foul odors that are being ignored
If your AC unit gives off a bad smell, you should not look the other way. It might be a sign that indicates burning wires, which can happen in both newly installed and older air conditioners. In this case, switch the unit off. If you;re using your smartphone (or another Wi-Fi device) to regulate the thermostat’s temp, be extra cautious as it will be extremely unlikely to be able to spot the problem on time.
What to do if your window AC unit catches a fire
Avoid using water to put out the flames as it will only make things worse. The oxygen in the water will fuel the fire and cause it to increase in intensity. It’s best to use a piece of cloth or sand to extinguish the fire until the firefighters arrive.
If you want to act proactively, never let inexperienced technicians install or maintain your window air conditioning units. Non-professional technicians working on your unit boost the possibility of a fire incident as they are not trained to overcome or spot a potentially hazardous situation.