Please choose a Location

Can Furnaces Catch Fire?

The return of cold temperatures boosts your dependence on home heating equipment in the fall. If your furnace isn’t functioning properly, it could become a fire hazard and jeopardize your family’s safety. 

As reported by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating equipment is a major factor of home fires, contributing to nearly 50,000 blazes, 500 civilian deaths and more than $1 billion in significant property damage every year. Space heaters and fireplaces cause most of the fires involving heating equipment, but central heaters, including furnaces, are responsible for about 12% of these blazes. Learn more about the most likely causes of furnace fires and how to prevent them. 

Causes of Furnace Fires

Old furnaces are more exposed to safety hazards because they may be manufactured differently and slide into disrepair through the years. Nevertheless, whether your furnace is more than a decade old or brand new, you should be aware of these causes of furnace fires. 

An Overheated Motor

A furnace motor can overheat in different ways. Here are the most common risks:  

  • A clogged filter can block airflow and force the motor to work more. Eventually, the motor might overheat, raising the risk of fire. 
  • Dirt can accumulate around and cover up the motor, forcing it to retain heat, which can cause a fire. 
  • Exposed or damaged wiring can cause the voltage to get too high, increasing the risk of an electrical fire. 
  • Excessively tight or worn motor bearings can heat up when the furnace starts. Without the appropriate lubrication, the bearings could eventually catch fire. 

Blocked Furnace Flue 

Yard debris, animal nests and other obstructions can obstruct the furnace flue, lowering oxygen. This results in soot building up and bad ventilation, limiting efficiency and increasing the risk of flame rollout. Flame rollout is when fire escapes the heat exchanger and burns the parts within your furnace. If this problem remains, your heating equipment may be seriously damaged, and the fire may even spread to areas outside the furnace. 

Clogged Heat Exchanger 

The heat exchanger is a closed combustion chamber where the heat created by your furnace is moved to the air circulating through your home. A heat exchanger clogged up with soot or corrosion has the same effect as a blocked furnace flue—reduced performance and a higher risk of flame rollout. 

Cracked Heat Exchanger 

Numerous problems can happen if corrosion breaks the heat exchanger. First, it affects suction in this chamber, leading to less airflow and increased flame rollout. Second, it releases fumes, like carbon monoxide, into your home. Breathing CO gas can be deadly, so never dismiss your carbon monoxide alarms. CO gas can also flash back to the source of the leak and ignite if a flame is found. 

Improper Gas Pressure 

Furnaces need an accurate combination of natural gas and air to ensure safe and efficient combustion. Too little pressure is often because of clogged burner orifices. This problem makes the burner flames more likely to roll out. It also leads to unwanted condensation inside the heat exchanger, increasing the rate of corrosion. 

On the other hand, high gas pressure can lead to excessive heat inside the furnace, which can cause the soot inside the heat exchanger to combust. Such fires can quickly spread to other areas. 

How to Prevent Furnace Fires 

Based on the different ways a furnace can combust, here are the steps you can take to prevent furnace fires: 

  • Change the air filter consistently: Check the filter each month and change it when it looks dirty or every three months, whichever comes first. 
  • Keep an eye on the furnace flue: Examine the exterior vent for obstructions and take care of any you find. 
  • Don’t keep combustible items near the furnace: Things such as cardboard boxes, paper, clothing and other combustibles should be kept at a minimum 3 feet away from the furnace and all other heating equipment. 
  • Add a flame rollout switch: This safety system recognizes if a fire or hot exhaust gases are inside your furnace’s burner compartment. If the rollout switch trips, have your furnace inspected promptly to diagnose and repair the problem before it produces a furnace fire. 
  • Schedule yearly furnace maintenance: It isn’t always easy to recognize if your furnace is performing unsafely. Whether you notice warning signs or not, don’t forget furnace maintenance every fall. 

Schedule Furnace Services Today 

Is it time for your yearly tune-up? Do you need help fixing a problem with your furnace? Whatever is happening, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing is here for you. Our HVAC pros can inspect, clean and test the system to ensure safe operation. If anything seems off, we’ll recommend a repair or a modification, providing you peace of mind that your furnace is unlikely to catch fire. For more information or to schedule furnace maintenance, please contact your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today. 

Savings For You

See All Offers Here >
Offer

$50 OFF ANY REPAIR

  • Save $50 on a Paid Service
  • Written 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Plus, ask how to save an additional 15% and waive your trip charge!
print
Offer

MAKE NO PAYMENTS FOR 30 DAYS!

  • Upgrade to Worry-Free Comfort with the Advantage Program and make NO payments for 30 days!
print

© 2024 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.

Chat with a Service Experts Professional