Tip of the Week: Fire Prevention Guide For HVAC Contractors


Did you know the NFPA says that roughly 50,000 home heating fires are reported every year in the United States? That’s approximately 16 percent of all annual home fires and with the heating season right around the corner, it’s important to teach homeowners how to avoid being a part of that 16 percent!

HVAC contractors should take the time to educate their customers with fire prevention tips. This will help them better understand how to safely use their heating equipment, what maintenance they need, and the safe alternatives they can use. Here are some heating safety tips you can use on your jobs this heating season

Space Heaters: Space heaters are the leading cause of heating-related fires, contributing to approximately one-third of all home fires. Space heaters refer to both portable and stationary equipment, including stoves, gas and electric heaters, and fireplace inserts. Space heaters store combustible materials so when you leave them unattended, fail to clean them or maintain the equipment they are likely to set the fire. Here are some safety tips you can tell the homeowners to keep the use of their space heaters safe.

  • Always keep the three-foot area surrounding the space heater clear, and remove all flammable and combustible items.
  • Have chimneys cleaned and inspected on a yearly basis.
  • Never leave space heaters running unattended, or while sleeping.
  • Properly vent fuel-burning space heaters.
  • Only use space heaters on flat, stable surfaces.
  • Do not use extension cords with space heaters.

You can also recommend a more permanent solution which will allow the homeowners to remove the threat of a space heater fires completely. Here are some safer alternatives HVAC professionals can recommend.

  • If homeowners are using space heaters because their heating system cannot keep their home at a comfortable temperature, this could be due to an undersized unit. Load calculations will let you know if this diagnosis is correct. If it is, you can recommend upgrading the central heating system or install equipment such as a ductless mini-split. 
  • If homeowners are only using the space heater in certain rooms of their home, installation of a zoning system could be the solution to their issue. You should educate the homeowners regarding the benefits of zoning for heating these problem areas, zoning utilizes the central heating system, eliminating the need for unsafe space heaters. Whole home-focused HVAC contractors may also suggest evaluating the home’s insulation and make the recommended upgrades to help retain more heat.

Central Heating units: Central heating systems were involved in approximately 7,500 residential fires, which accounts for 14 percent of the total heating-related home fires. While central heating units are much safer than space heaters, they can still start fires if you do not take care of them properly. 

The leading causes of central heating unit fires are undetermined mechanical failures and malfunctions, failure to keep the unit cleaned properly, and storing combustible materials too close to the heating system. Here are some tips you can tell homeowners to keep their families safe this heating season:  

  • Keep a three-foot area around your central heating unit clear, to avoid all unnecessary issues such as combustible materials being stored too close to your unit.
  • Suggest professional preventative maintenance services and explain what that entails to your customer.  You could say something like this: professional preventative maintenance cleans your system which removes all flammable materials from within such as dust and lint.
  • Suggest a complete system inspection which can allow automatic control issues and other heating system fire hazards to be identified and replaced.

Helping homeowners staying safe during heating season should be a priority for every HVAC contractor. Every service call is an opportunity to educate customers and help them make smarter heating choices which can reduce their risk of heating-related fires at home.

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