Tragic Church Fire Shows Importance Of HVAC Maintenance

Sometimes it takes a tragic incident to remind us that the cost of a faulty HVAC unit can be more than just no AC on a hot day or no furnace on a cold day. HVAC units have so many parts, circuits, tubing and wiring that even a minor glitch (like a frayed wire, for example) can quickly turn tragic.

Sadly, worshippers at the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Portsmouth, VA found out the hard way that HVAC problems are not something to take lightly. Firefighters responded to a 911 call at the church, and when they arrived they found the walls and floors of the church on fire. It took them about 30 minutes to get the fire under control.

What makes this case especially tragic is that the church is over one hundred years old, and is firmly rooted in the community. Repairing the damage cause by the fire is estimated at several thousand dollars.

How did the fire start? Investigators aren’t sure exactly how the fire began, but they know that it did start in an exterior HVAC unit and flames spread to the interior walls from there. Investigators say the cause is either electrical or mechanical.

Even though we don’t know exactly what went wrong with the HVAC unit, there are still some basic tips you can use to avoid an HVAC-related fire in your home or building.

  1. If you suspect something is wrong, call an HVAC professional right away. Signs there might be something wrong include strange noise, AC/Heater not working properly, strange smells, etc.
  1. Get your HVAC unit inspected and tuned up regularly. This doesn’t cost a lot of money and doesn’t take a lot of time, but can save your house from a fire. The HVAC professional will inspect all the tubing, wires, motors and other components to ensure nothing is broken or worn. The electrical circuit will also be tested to make sure there are no shorts – something that can be very dangerous.
  1. Replace parts when needed. If your technician tells you that a component of your HVAC unit has outlived its usefulness, get it replaced as soon as you can. Something like a new AC or furnace can cost a lot up front, but you’ll save money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs and a potential fire. Plus, today’s AC units and furnaces are much more energy efficient than they were a decade or two ago. This means you’ll save money on your energy bill as well.

What happened at the Portsmouth church is tragic, but luckily no one was hurt. And the incident can also be used as a lesson for the rest of us that our HVAC systems aren’t something we can just ignore.

If you have any concerns about your house’s HVAC system, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll send an experienced technician to assess the problem and recommend the proper solution. Even if you think it’s something minor, don’t put off calling a professional.

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