Is Your Air Conditioner a Fire Hazard?

Last weekend, the roof of a 42-unit condo at the corner of Somerled and Walkley streets in NDG caught fire. Nobody was hurt, but dozens have been left stranded as the building is waterlogged, and has sustained a lot of damage.

It took 80 firefighters most of the night to put out the fire.

Fire deparment chief Luc Robillard made a statement that it appears that the flames may have started in an air conditioning unit on the roof of the building. The fire spread quickly on the wooden deck structure on the roof.

It’s not the first time firefighters point to an air conditioner as possible starting point for fire. In a report issued by the U.S. Fire Administration, an average of 2,300 fires occur per year in residential structures in the US.

The report states that “Eighty-six percent of residential air conditioning fires are ignited as a result of some type of mechanical failure or malfunction. The leading factors contributing to these mechanical failures and malfunctions is a short circuit (51%) or other electrical failure (22%) in the air conditioning unit. In many cases, air conditioner units run at full capac- ity during the hottest summer months and are not always routinely inspected or main- tained, often causing the mechanical failures or malfunctions that result in fire.”

It’s worth checking the wiring on your A/C unit to minimize the chance of electrical failure. If your unit has been installed using indoor electrical wire, it can wear away from sun exposure, and become a fire-hazard. If your unit is 6-7 years old, have it checked out for faulty wiring, or for a cleaning.

Read more about Residential Air Conditioner Fires (US Fire Administration study)

Find the NDG news story about the fire on the CBC Montreal website: