Industrial Fan Fires: Know What to Watch
Can Industrial Fans Catch Fire?
Industrial fan fires are unlikely, but they can create sparks that can cause fires if you’re not careful. What causes sparks in industrial fans? The answer to that question is moving parts and ferrous materials.
Guarding against industrial fan fires means attention to ratings, materials of construction, and maintenance. The Air Movement Control Association International (AMCA) provides three levels of spark-resistant fan ratings (AMCA-A, AMCA-B, and AMCA-C) based on materials of construction. We detailed what the ratings mean in our blog on Spark-Resistant Fan Construction.
Ferrous Materials and Industrial Fan Fires
Steel parts are not generally flammable. What can cause sparks? It’s when those moving metal parts coming into contact with one another AND one or more of the parts is made of ferrous material. Ferrous simply means metal containing iron. Nonferrous metals are alloys like aluminum.
Here’s how industrial fan fires can spark up if you’re not taking all the right precautions. Fan wheels rotate at high speeds. They’re designed not to come into contact with nearby fan parts like the inlet valve or the housing behind it. If you don’t install it correctly and carefully, it’s possible to put the wrong parts and materials too close together, creating a dangerous situation in which sparks are possible.
Checking for Damage and Danger
What happens if a fire has occurred in your system? Check all rotating equipment in this special instance of fan maintenance. That means checking the wheel, shaft, bearings, and the motor. That’s because fire can transform things it touches. The fan wheel could be distorted, bearings could be burned. If you try to operate your system without a careful evaluation after an industrial fan fire, your fan could suffer much greater damage and danger. It’s much better to work with the manufacturer to replace damaged parts than to risk the entire fan and system.
How to Avoid Industrial Fan Fires
There are three primary components to avoiding unlikely but possible industrial fan fires:
- Specify the appropriate AMCA spark resistance rating and related materials of construction.
- Install your fan correctly and carefully according to your fan manufacturer’s Installation and Operation Manual (IOM). Our application engineers can provide startup assistance.
- Know what to look for in case of fire, and practice good ongoing fan maintenance, keeping the moving parts from colliding and creating sparks.
Hear it from an Application Engineer
Senior Application Engineer Chet White discusses industrial fan fires, what to look for, and what to avoid in this 2-minute video.
When you’re ready to start your project or update your fan and blower maintenance program, reach out and connect with one of our application engineers to discuss the details of your project.