By Emma Harrington
Last updated on: January 5, 2021 at 5:12 pm
When you think of devastating household fires, heaters are the culprits that often spring to mind. But recent RAA Insurance claims data shows that malfunctioning air conditioners are in fact the worst offenders.
Surging summer temperatures spark a significant rise in Adelaide home fires.
Since 2015, the number of home fire claims in summer has been more than double the number of claims made during winter, RAA Insurance records reveal.
RAA Claims Manager Hayley Cain says – excluding bushfires – there have been 346 home fire claims in the summer months compared to 144 claims in winter.
“Almost 85% of those summer house fires were caused by malfunctioning air conditioners,” she warns.
“Many homes now have some form of air-conditioning, which not only provides relief from hot weather but can also be an essential device for protecting the elderly and young from heat stress.
“However, the use of electrical cooling equipment carries the same fire risk as other electrical equipment.’’
Ms Cain says cooling equipment, such as air conditioners, evaporative coolers and fans, can be dangerous if not properly maintained.
“The equipment can overheat if used continuously during heatwaves and cause a fire,’’ she says.
Ms Cain urges homeowners to follow advice from the Metropolitan Fire Service to reduce the potential for fire in the following ways:
- All electrical cooling equipment, both permanently installed systems and portable equipment, should be regularly serviced by a licensed tradesperson according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Clean or replace return air filters in reverse cycle air conditioners (both ducted and split systems) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Don’t leave your air-cooling equipment running unattended.
- Watch for signs of your electrical cooling equipment overheating. Keep a spare, well maintained fan that can keep you cool while resting overheated cooling equipment.
- Keep portable electrical cooling equipment away from wet areas to avoid the possibility of electric shock.
- Children and pets must be supervised when cooling equipment is in use. Keep an eye on children and pets, particularly when portable equipment is within reach.