Can a Window Air Conditioner really explode? And 4 Useful ways to totally avoid it?

Today I was sitting in my room looking at the window AC. And I wondered whether the AC can explode or blast. And to clear the thought I looked up on the internet and found this shocking video and some statistics.

The AC mechanic trying to fill gas inside the AC compressor, close to the AC died on the spot and the other one was injured badly.

Some statistics about AC explosion:

AC explosion is not common and immediate deaths are little rare, for that matter. But, here are some incidents that happened in the previous years.

  • Young AC mechanics were killed on the spot (3 such cases) due to blast in the compressor while repairing the domestic split AC unit. (Source)
  • One incident in Chennai took place, where the cause of death was suffocation by inhalation of gas in a closed room. Freon is a gas that leaks out of the AC due to some technical error. This gas must be stopped from leaking by an expert. Otherwise, it may be inhaled by you and cause death. (Source)
  • A fire in a window AC caused a 46-year-old to die. (Source)
  • Three people in a family died after the explosion of the window air conditioner at a residence in TN (Source)

Before we dive into the various reasons for AC explosion and how to prevent them, let’s learn some basics about the coolants used in an AC. Find useful information Here!

What could possibly cause the explosion in an AC

  1. Because of inexpensive and inappropriate “coolant gas”
  2. Metal bits in the Compressor
  3. Lack of compressor oil
  4. Neglect in safety norms at the time of operating the Discharge Valve

Use of inexpensive and inappropriate “coolant gas”

Majority of the cases that involve the explosion of an AC happen because of this reason alone. This is done for earning some extra bucks during the off-season.

R12, R22, and R134 are some of the safest coolants or refrigerating agents used in an AC. They are safe because they do not catch fire on coming in contact with Oxygen. And this is exactly the reason for it being expensive.

Another cheap and unsafe option is propane gas. Some AC mechanics or technicians use the propane gas as a cheaper alternative for making extra money. It may also be lack of knowledge on the part of the technician.

Propane is a good cooling agent but is extremely inflammable. Thus, it catches fire quickly. Therefore, they forbid the use of propane in an AC compressor.

Metal bits in the Compressor

Keeping the compressor in an unobstructed space is very important. Similarly, it is good to keep the compressor clean and maintained. If there are some particles and pieces that enter the system, it may cause unnecessary pressure on the valves leading to an explosion.

These particles may mostly be metal bits that may run through the whole system of the compressor. Then, eventually due to the pressure inside the compressor, it may lead to a blast.

Lack of compressor oil

This is also a major reason for the explosion of the AC. Lack of Oil in the compressor puts extra amounts of load on its machinery and leads to friction. And eventually, the pressure is so much that some part of the compressor has to give away by way of a blast.

Reasons for it are 1) Less amount of oil inserted at the time of installation or 2) The oil got reduced by way of friction due to a leak in the coolant gas from the system.

Neglect in safety norms at the time of operating the Discharge Valve

The pressure relief valves have a set threshold value at which they operate. If they are used at a higher pressure they will blow off an d lead to an explosion.(source)

Situation Analysis: Some technicians after getting a complain they go to attend the call.

Suppose the gas has been stored in the valve by the previous technician and the valves were switched off. The new technician started it directly and he was not able to discharge the pressure. The Allen key wall was switched off. Due to this, the technician died of the blast.

some technicians check the leakage test with the nitrogen gas and with the help of pressurizing. They do it without vacuuming it completely. Once the leakage is cleared proper vacuum has to be done.

When does the AC explode

Basically, when the pressure valves are closed from the outside and there is a lot of pressure from the compressor working. Then, due to the machinery of the compressor produces heat. It can fire up the refrigerant gases like propane that catch fire immediately and cause an explosion that may be deadly to people nearby.

How do I stop/prevent my AC from blasting?

  1. You should try to keep the space around your outdoor unit free and clear with any materials or debris at least 3 feet away.
  2. The AC compressor should not be started unless the Allen key valve is on
  3. Also when you store the gas in the AC switch of the smaller discharge valve (smaller pipe)
  4. So that the all of the gas gets reversed And comes into the outdoor unit do not wait for more than 30-40 s
  5. After that switch on the valve of the bigger pipe

Additional care to prevent AC hazards

How to identify a gas leak leakage problem in AC? Step-by-Step

  • Firstly open the front panel of the split AC with the AC switched on
  • After that remove the filters and you will be able to see the coils inside.
  • There will be a layer of ice deposited on it indicating that the gas level is low in the AC.
  • This will be significantly more visible after 5 to 10 minutes. Rather it is recommended to wait for 10 minutes minimum to avoid false negative.

Checking with the outdoor unit for gas leakage: Step-by-Step

  • If the outdoor unit is within a reachable height for you then you can try doing the following procedure
  • Go towards the compressor and check if the fan is on.
  • If the fan is on try to identify whether the air is hot or cold. Ideally, if everything is right the air coming from the compressor should be hot air.
  • I would advise that for safety purposes where rubber footwear at all times while touching the electric equipment.
  • Also so big before trying to operate on the equipment try to touch the wires to check if there is any current coming from the AC.
  • If all the safety rules have been followed then you can try to recognize two pipes coming from the compressor.
  • The two pipes will be one big and one small pipe.

Once the pipes are identified

  • When the AC is switched on the thin pipe gets chilled. This is where the entire flow of events starts.
  • You have previously identified two pipes the thin pipe is where there will be ice formation which will cause a white layer on the thin pipe.
  • This means that there is a gas problem in the AC. However, you would still want to wait for 5 to 10 minutes (it is recommended). Sometimes the thin ice goes away from the pipe surface. If it does then there is some other problem in the AC.
  • Moving forward the thick pipe will take 8 to 10 minutes to get chilled. Practically you can feel it with your own fingers. There will be dew formation on the pipe surface. If this happens then there is no gas problem.

Now, when the technician comes he will check the gas pressure with gauge. so that you will be able to verify the pressure reading before and after the servicing is done.

Does gas top up in the AC fix your AC cooling problem?

  • First of all gas filling only is can be done in a window AC and not in split AC at all.
  • If anybody is claiming that they will top up the gas in a split AC e just move to the opposite side and run! They are fraud trying to take your money.
  • What they do basically in the gas filling is there just fit a valve in the outdoor unit. But this is actually just a fraud.
  • To avoid this fraud ask the technician to check to show you the pressure and the amperes of the machine. They can show you the pressure in the pressure gauge. With the help of your mobile camera take a picture of the pressure reading. If before and after reading match the technician is trying to deceive you.
  • Moreover, you have you can ask him to treat the leakage first and then fill the gas in the AC.
  • This is much better than trying to top up the gas and not finding the leakage.

Explosion-proof AC

Atexxo air conditioners have started a range of explosion-proof air conditioners. Their AC units use the European approved R-410A refrigerant. This company mainly works on industrial application of this technology as yet. (source)

Benefits

  • For high ambient temperatures
  • Suited for 24/7 operations
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Standard “Blue Fin” anti-corrosion treatment

Conclusion

It is better to be safe than sorry!!!

Always try to use the best company AC. Never fail to call the experts for servicing of the AC. A small step gone wrong can lead to a big accident that may end-up taking a life.

Also, the indoor and outdoor units need to be cleaned regualrly. The Ac should be regualrly checked for leakages. Long-standing problems always prove to be fatal. So, I would advise you not to be casual with these devices and try to take perfect care of them. So, in turn they will take care of you.

Hope you find this information useful. Thanks!!

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