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Air conditioners are such a common fixture in our homes in Mesquite, TX, that we don’t think of them as hazards. The thought of a dangerous air conditioner almost seems silly, but it is not out of the question. Air conditioning repair services should be a regular part of home maintenance.
Risk of Fire
The National Fire Protection Association estimates that air conditioners are the cause of approximately 20 deaths, 140 injuries, and property damage adding up to more than $82 million every year. An average of 2,800 structural fires involving air conditioners were reported between 2010 and 2014. Window AC units are about 1.8 times more likely to cause fires than central air conditioning.
Overheating and Combustibles
Excessively high temperatures, especially over a long stretch, strain air conditioners and increase risk of fire. Repair is important
because overheated units or unnoticed electrical issues can spark and start a fire with nearby combustible materials.
Try to keep the area surrounding your AC unit, window or central, clear of anything flammable within at least three feet. Clean paper, leaves and debris away from the outside portion of the unit. Homeowners should consult a certified HVAC professional to handle air conditioning repair and maintenance at least twice a year. Make sure your AC unit is inspected by an air conditioning repair professional before heat waves occur.
Installation and Power Sources
Sometimes the position of an AC unit in a window can reduce the risk of fire. The seal between the bracket and opening can create a barrier to stop flames from entering the house if the AC unit is properly positioned and anchored. Try to avoid placing wiring for window units underneath carpeting or rugs and do not run wires through holes in walls or boards.
Some common shortcuts in AC installation have caused fires. Never alter a new AC unit to fit an old outlet. The third prong on plugs is there to ground the appliance. Removing the third prong to force the plug into an older outlet is very risky. Connecting an AC window unit to an outlet with insufficient capacity can start a fire. Ensure the unit has a sufficient power supply by matching amperage to appropriately sized electrical wiring. Call air conditioning repair professionals for assistance if you’re not sure how to do this.
Overloaded electrical outlets are a common source of fires in June, July, and August. These three months also see the highest levels of air conditioner use across the US, and especially in Mesquite, TX. Never use extension cords for an air conditioner. Its best to avoid power strips as well. Air conditioners use so much power that it isn’t safe to use strip outlets for an AC unit and several other devices or appliances.
Consider hiring an air conditioning repair technician to install AC units. Professionals know how to properly install units and take many factors into account. Window units should lean slightly outside to prevent rain or condensation collecting around the unit and dripping onto electrical parts or wires.
Maintenance and Malfunctions
The risk of fire increases when filters are worn out or hold accumulated dust and dirt. Dirt particles can also build up around air vents, fins and coils.
These particles eventually obstruct air flow and lead to overheating. Change the filter in your AC unit regularly and keep the unit clean. You can also consult air conditioning repair services to handle these tasks.
Malfunctioning parts can leave you without a working AC during heat waves and increase the risk of fire. Fans and other moving parts degrade over time and let heat build up within the unit. Call an air conditioning repair professional if you suspect your AC may need a tune-up and replacement parts.
Check your AC unit thoroughly before setting up for warmer temperatures. Inspect wires for nicks or wearing. Wire must be completely intact to prevent fires. Do not try to fix damaged wires with electrical tape. Moisture around the tape may cause an electrical surge.
Microorganisms and Illness
Poorly maintained air conditioners are not just fire hazards. Allergies and aggravation of asthma or other respiratory issues have been linked to contaminated AC units. The term ‘sick building syndrome’ developed in the 1970s and 80s.
People working in air conditioned buildings claimed the building was causing illness. Symptoms of the mysterious illnesses including nasal congestion, headaches, difficulty breathing, skin irritation, sneezing, coughing, and fever. These symptoms were linked to microorganisms growing in AC units and cooling systems.
The process of cooling hot air produces moisture and condensation. A properly positioned and well maintained AC system channels the moisture
away, but a poorly installed or neglected unit lets standing water become a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria. Some people are more sensitive to microbes than others, so one person in a building or
home may experience symptoms while everyone else is fine. Avoid this problem by letting an air conditioning repair specialist install your AC unit.
Unfortunately, some microbes can cause serious illness. AC units often sit in direct sunlight at least part of the day. The combination of heat, moisture, and years of dirt, pollen, and other particles getting inside the unit can encourage the growth of potentially harmful bacteria, such as Legionella. Call an air conditioning repair professional if you notice standing water in or around your AC unit, especially if the water looks cloudy or has a foul smell.
A properly functioning air conditioner is beneficial for people with respiratory illnesses because it filters outdoor pollutants and lowers humidity. Opening windows sometimes leads to poor indoor air quality for people in urban areas. Older AC models may not provide the same benefits as newer, more efficient models. Call the professionals at K&S Heating and Air to inspect your AC. Highly skilled technicians can repair AC units or help you choose a new model, if necessary.