Summer Safety Series: Home Cooling Safety - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jun 6, 2019

Summer Safety Series: Home Cooling Safety

In New York the weather goes from one extreme to another. In our homes we’re always trying to even the playing field. Before the warm temperatures arrive, you should inspect the equipment you are using to cool down to make sure you can use it safely!

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):

“During 2011 and 2015, fans or air conditioners were involved in an estimated annual average of 7,800 reported home structure fires, 40 home fire deaths, 280 home fire injuries, and $196 million in direct property damage.

In 2015, fans or air conditioners were involved in an estimated 8,700 home fires. These fires caused 30 civilian deaths, 250 civilian injuries, and $186 million in direct property damage."

Almost all of these incidents may have been prevented with proper care and maintenance of these cooling systems. Use the following tips to prepare and maintain yours:

     Fan: Ceiling fans create an interesting design aesthetic, but they also help to cool down your home! If your home has a ceiling fan here are some steps you can take to maintain it, thus increasing its lifespan.
     Central Air: Air conditioning units need room for airflow. Keep any nearby plants cut back and regularly clean pollen, dust, and other debris from the unit. Also keep your registers inside open -- as closed registers can freeze the AC coils and cause the unit to stop working until thawed. Other tips to keep your unit from over exerting itself include things like regularly changing filters, making use of a programmable thermostat, and keeping windows closed. You should also have your air conditioner regularly maintained by a professional at the end of each season.
     Standalone or Portable Air Conditioning Units:  These units can be great alternatives to window units when your windows aren’t suitable for them. One of the first things to consider when bringing home a portable unit is location. You want to be sure to place the unit in a clean, and dust-free area, as dirt and dust can quickly jam the motor of the unit and cause mechanical errors. After a season of use, a thorough cleaning is absolutely necessary to ensure continued use in upcoming years.
     Window Units: These are one of the most commonly used cooling methods among homeowners and apartment dwellers. Regular maintenance of your unit is the number one priority as it pertains to the safety of you and your family. As a best practice -- be sure to change your unit’s filter every 30-60 days. When replacing or cleaning the filter you should also make it a habit to clean the coils of dust and other debris. While doing that -- check to ensure that no coils are bent or broken, as they can block air flow thus overexerting the unit. When replacing the filter check to see if there is any build up of mold within the unit. If not cleaned properly the mold will become airborne and spread mold spores throughout your home. A simple bleach, dish soap, water mixture can help you thoroughly clean it.

Although it may not apply to fans, winterizing your unit is extremely important for continued use year after year. Follow these tips and you’ll keep your home cool when it’s a little too warm.