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Common Causes of Furnace Fires and How to Prevent Them

Furnace 6289756

According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires have been the second leading cause of home fires, and nearly half of all home heating fires occurred in the upcoming months of December, January, and February.

As the colder temperatures begin to set in, reliance on heating equipment increases - and so should safety awareness. Here are some preventative measures you can take to ensure safe heating this winter.

Take steps to make sure your motor doesn’t overheat

There’s no doubt about it there’s an increased risk of fire when your furnace is not regularly maintained.

  • One of the most important things to maintain is a clean air filter. If it gets too dirty, air flow gets restricted. This not only causes your furnace to work less efficiently, but it can eventually cause the motor to overheat.
  • Another cause of overheating is the dirt which can collect around the motor and act as (the wrong kind) of insulation.
  • Faulty parts or bad wiring can cause too high voltage or tight bearings.
  • Tight or worn motor bearings can catch heat when dry and eventually catch fire - so bearings need to be regularly lubricated.

Be mindful of flammable materials

Things like gasoline, paper, clothing, drapery, or dried leaves should not be kept near a heating system. Leave at least 3 feet between combustible materials and your furnace or any type of heating equipment.

Don’t handle space heaters carelessly

A few years ago, FEMA reported that heating appliances like space heaters were the second highest cause of residential fires. It’s important to handle them according to manufacturers’ safety guidelines. These include:

  • Not using an extension cord to power your space heater
  • Keeping flammable objects at a safe distance
  • Turning off all area heating devices before leaving your house or going to bed for the evening

Keep your flues clean

Not only do you need to keep your chimney flue clean of creosote (which is flammable), but soot buildup in your furnace flue due to improper ventilation can cause furnace flame rollouts where flames actually escape and roll out of a closed combustion area. Restricted oxygen is a major cause of this buildup, and this can be caused by clogged air filters or obstructions like a bird’s nest or yard debris blocking your outside vent.

Get regular maintenance

There’s a common saying that we should hope for the best and plan for the worst. So keep a fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen and near any heating equipment, and make sure each room is set up with a working smoke detector.

You can also have your furnace regularly inspected with a maintenance contract. It can save you money in the long run and help prevent any furnace fires. For more information, contact the certified HVAC professionals at Drake Heating & Air.

Can a furnace catch fire?
Yes, a furnace can catch fire. The following are reasons your furnace can catch fire: 
  • Your furnace’s air filter is blocked. 
  • Your furnace’s gas pressure is too high. 
  • There is a crack in your furnace’s heat exchanger.
An unmaintained furnace can be a safety hazard to both you and your home. A good way to protect against these issues is to have your furnace regularly maintained. When your furnace is regularly serviced, it is cleaned and inspected often, giving you the opportunity to catch any problems before they become worse. To get your furnace on a maintenance plan, contact us today.
What happens if a furnace overheats?
If a furnace overheats it can cause: 
  • Your energy bills increase. 
  • Your furnace to stop working. 
  • Carbon monoxide to leak into your home. 
An overheating furnace is something you should not ignore. If you don't address it, it can lead to severe health and safety hazards. If you suspect your furnace is overheating, you should have an HVAC technician look at it right away. To get your furnace repaired, call us today.
How do you know if your furnace is going bad?
A few signs your furnace is going bad include:
  • Your energy bills have increased. 
  • Your furnace is over 10 years old and requires many repairs. 
  • There are strange noises and odors coming from your furnace.
When you begin to notice these signs, you should consider having your furnace replaced. Not only does a bad furnace cost you more in repairs and energy, it also doesn't heat your home as effectively. To get your furnace replaced, give us a call today.
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Read Our Reviews!

Amber L.
Amber L.
15:50 19 Nov 21
Kevin Vest was very professional, friendly, and knowledgeable during our annual furnace maintenance! He even helped look into a few other concerns we had regarding insulation in our house. We always highly recommend Drake as a company and their technicians are always the best of the best! Thanks Kevin!
Brad Nischwitz
Brad Nischwitz
03:58 19 Nov 21
They were on time and did a great job re-wiring my furnace and hooking up a new thermostat.
s b (surtonpain)
s b (surtonpain)
20:36 17 Nov 21
Nathan was on time and very professional, he did a great job explaining what he saw, what his tests came back as, and what repairs he recommended.
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