t doesn't seem to make sense, but lately there have been a number of reports of air conditioners starting house fires. Earlier this week, the Sun Sentinel reported on house fires caused by leaky air conditioners. The article states that since January 2011, 215 fires in Florida have been caused by air conditioners.
In many of these cases, the AC unit had not been properly maintained, causing water to overflow. The leaking water caused electric wires under the unit to short-circuit and start a fire.
Palm Beach County fire captain Doug McGlynn told the news source that air conditioner drain lines often overflow. "With the summer, and people keeping their AC units running more often, it's very common," McGlynn said.
An Allentown, Pennsylvania, air conditioner also caused a home to go up in flames this week after it had been running for days. In this case, short-circuited on its own after being left on for so long. Local Allentown paper The Morning Call mentioned that the air conditioner was plugged in to a power strip, and advised readers that it is much safer to give such power-consuming piece of machinery it's own plug.
Luckily, accidents such as these are easily avoidable. Experts recommend having air conditioners checked out twice a year to avoid fires. Another good solution is to avoid installing air conditioners where excess water could drip on anything electrical. Make sure that window ACs are plugged in to their own outlet, and that they are turned off once in a while to avoid short circuiting
Following this advice will protect your house from a fire and keep your air conditioner running for a long time.