Denver Heating and Cooling Specialists Warn Leaks Can Turn Into Fires

Denver Heating and Cooling Specialists Warn Leaks Can Turn Into Fires

How can something so cool turn hot in seconds?

HVAC systems are a prevalent source of fires, costing hundreds of millions in property damage. In 2010, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported more than 7,000 house fires related to fans, air conditioners, and other such appliances. Central and room HVAC systems were the most prone, having accounted for a third of the fires.

Denver Heating and Cooling Specialists Warn Leaks Can Turn Into Fires

Reports filed between 2006 and 2010 indicated that big fires were a result of small problems left unchecked. A third of the fires reported were caused by a sudden spark in the electrical system, which can be triggered by a stray leak. Denver heating and cooling experts can think of an ideal culprit: a clogged or overflowing drain line.

The drain line channels the water, the product of the cooling process, from the drain pan to the proper outlet, normally an outgoing sewer line. Sometimes, people recycle the water for non-potable purposes like watering plants and washing cars. Regardless of how you use it, water from the air conditioner must not find its way to the wires.

There are simple solutions you can take to prevent shorting fires with your air conditioner. A mix of water and bleach can prevent algae from forming inside the drain line (all that moisture is the perfect place for it to thrive). Drain pans should be flushed and cleaned at least once a year. For more than six months of continuous use, cleaning must be done more often.

Some AC drain line clogs, however, should be handled by Denver, CO heating and air conditioning professionals like Total Plumbing. For instance, most drain lines have a U-shaped segment called the trap, which acts like the trap in your toilet. The small amount of water retained by the trap prevents fumes from backing up. Its shape, though, makes it prone to clogging.

All the more reason you should call an HVAC repairman if the entire line starts leaking, especially if another appliance—like a water heater—is underneath the air conditioner. The system must be checked by professional services as often as possible for leaks, and problems must be reported immediately. This is a surefire way to keep people and property safe.


“Beware: Leaky air conditioners can spark fires,” Sun Sentinel, July 10, 2012

“Home Fires Involving Air Conditioning, Fans or Related Equipment,” National Fire Protection Association, October 2012)