Electrical Fire In a Packaged HVAC RTU – Field Service Highlight

Especially in the summer and winter, a properly maintained HVAC system is an absolute necessity for keeping office and business spaces livable. In the video below, we sent one of our expert technicians to a customer’s site after the packaged Rooftop unit HVAC system in their building ceased functioning to diagnose the problem and get the system back up and running as quickly as possible.

What is an RTU in an HVAC?

The rooftop makes an ideal space to fit some, most, or all of the components of a building’s HVAC system. As the name suggests, a packaged Rooftop Unit (RTU) fits all of the necessary components of an HVAC system, including the AC evaporator and condenser coils, AC compressor, and heat source, into a single package installed on your building’s rooftops.

Depending on the situation, a packaged RTU can have several advantages to split-system HVAC units, in which some components may be packaged inside the building. For example, RTU HVAC uses less energy and doesn’t take up any indoor space, and installation is usually simpler and less expensive. There are disadvantages, too, though: RTUs are exposed to the elements, for one, and because they’re on the roof it can be all too easy to fall prey to the trap of “out of sight, out of mind” and let the unit become neglected.

Packaged HVAC RTU Diagnostic

Our field service technician’s inspection showed that our client’s RTU had stopped working due to an electrical fire inside the unit. There was carbon buildup around the wires, and some contactors had gotten stuck and were welded together from the heat of the fire. While some of the contactors could be freed, they would all have to be replaced. As well, two wires were beginning to break away from their connectors, leaving them exposed. These wires would also have to be replaced. There were a few crimped wires as well that needed closer inspection to determine whether or not they needed replacing.

A closer and more thorough inspection of the HVAC’s electrical systems would be necessary to determine the root cause of the fire. Afterward, replacing the fire-damaged components will get our customer’s RTU up and running again.

How to prevent electrical fires in your HVAC RTU

Electrical fires happen when your electrical equipment is overloaded, misused, or just plain worn out. An overloaded HVAC system is all too possible in summer and winter when you’re dealing with extreme heat or cold, and as we’ve mentioned above, RTU packages are the type of HVAC units most in danger of being neglected.

There’s no 100% effective way to prevent all electrical fires, but by being careful, you can make sure the risk of a fire inside your HVAC system is as low as possible. Most electrical fires are caused by a buildup of heat inside your electronic systems, which can lead to electrical arcing and short circuits—often the ‘spark’ the fire needs to ignite. Crimped and fraying electrical wires and cables are a primary factor. Regular maintenance and inspection of your RTU can catch these warning signs and identify cables and wires in need of replacement before they cause problems down the road. There’s no better maintenance than preventative maintenance.

Learn more about our RTU HVAC services

At Chiller Systems Service, we put the right people, equipment, and service on your case to get the job done right. We’ve been installing, repairing, and maintaining HVAC systems for commercial clients all throughout the metro Denver area since 1997, with rapid, reliable, and responsive services to minimize disruption. If you’re having problems with your HVAC RTU, get in touch with us and experience our dedication to complete customer satisfaction:

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