The MTNL fire was caused by a short circuit in the AC unit.


In addition to posing a threat to your life and of your family members, a house fire can leave you in financial ruin and destroy irreplaceable items such as family photos and documents. A faulty air-conditioning system places you at risk of just such an occurrence. Linked to a number of deaths, injuries and several amounts of rupees in property damage, fires caused by air conditioners (ACs) are more common than previously thought. The fire in the MTNL building, Bandra was one such incident we can learn from.


Most air conditioning fires are caused by a short circuit in the wiring that causes the appliance to overheat and subsequently light up. Frequent power surges or fluctuation in the amount of voltage the air conditioner receives can also overheat the unit.

According to research, these AC unit fires can be caused by some of the following:

  • Maintenance/Cleaning

Without regular maintenance, an air conditioning system risks catching fire, typically in instances where filters are worn out or accumulate dust and dirt particles. Dirt and particles can also collect on vital parts such as air vents, coils and fins, obstructing air flow and resulting in damage.
Likewise, overworking a system that isn’t maintained can also result in strain to the electrical system.

  • Load

Setting up an air conditioning Window/ Split unit to an outlet that may not be able to handle the capacity can also lead to fire. Often, people try to plug AC units into outlets incapable of handling that amount of power. To avoid this issue, match the AC unit’s amperage with the appropriate size electrical wiring.

Another shortcut that can prove destructive is altering a new unit to fit an old outlet. Most AC units are equipped with a third prong meant to ground the appliance. Removing that third prong to fit the plug into an old outlet can ultimately lead to fire.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid overloading electrical outlets, particularly during the months when the units are in constant use.

  • Equipment and Parts

When vital parts of the unit begin to malfunction, consumers need to contact a professional. Parts, such as fans that start to degrade, may pave the way for the accumulation of heat within the AC. Those rising temperatures could potentially ignite nearby areas.

  • Faulty Wiring

When getting ready for soaring temperatures and preparing to set up your AC unit for the season, make sure to thoroughly check wires for nicks or wearing. You want to make sure that the wire is completely intact to prevent any issues with the appliance catching fire. That means avoid using AC units that have wire damage patched up with electrical tape. Moisture that manages to get around the tape will likely cause an electrical surge. Experts also discourage using air conditioners with extension cords or surge protectors.

How to reduce fire hazard

Routinely maintaining your air conditioning unit and having it inspected at least every couple of months will help you catch problems with the unit before those problems result in a house fire.

  • Clean/change your filters: reduce the risk of dust builds up, smelling units, fire etc. Clean/change air con filters regularly.
  • Examine electric-powered equipment: Regularly inspect air conditioning cords for cracks, loose connections, or broken plugs, and replace any damaged equipment.
  • Maintain your AC units: All mechanical and electrical equipment needs regular proper maintenance. Have your AC system maintained by a professional at least once a year or sooner. This depends on the level of contamination from dust, mould, bacteria, insects and rodents.
  • Monitor exterior unit: Make sure that leaves, dirt, debris and insects haven’t clogged your exterior unit.

In case you notice a burning smell, a spark or worn out wires please refrain from using the electrical equipment and give us a call at 9769 069 069 –

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