3 Carrier 38CKC fires in 1 community in 2yrs
My townhome community is less than five years old, there have been 3 Carrier air conditioning explosion in that time frame all 38CKC models. The most recent one was one door down from my home on Wed July 2, 2008. Both Units exploded, and caught the back of the house on fire within minutes. We had a HOA meeting 2 days ago and they seem to think that there is no need there is not a problem, its all just a fluke. But after the first explosion in 2006 at a different home in a different row, they built the remained of the town homes in the community with bigger units. I guess i am looking for any help I can get, does this sound like and installation issues? a batch of bad units our wonderful builder my have gotten a deal on? or just bad luck? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. The Hoa said we are on our own if we want to have our units inspected and we are not even sure what we should be looking for? Please help.....................................
Did the same company install them?
If these machines had been explodin' across the fruited plain-then its Carrier's fault and time to ante up, but this sounds like a human error.
Originally Posted by topaz7
I am assuming the same contractor installed the AC units for the whole town home community. I was told by the fire marshall to hire a third party inspector to check the install.....
To define explosion, my neighbor was home whne the one on July 2, 2008 happened she is the one who called 911. She was sitting in her living room and heard a loud noise looked out windo to see both units (we have dual systems and the fencing around it engulfed in a huge fire ball. Fire dept arrived with in minutes and it all ready set the back of the hooluse on fire.
i have been doing this work for over 35 years and have NEVER seen a condensing unit explode and cause a building fire. to have 3 of them in a community that new there is something VERY WRONG.
not sure if i would pay to have it inspected or ripped out and replaced......
This is a new one for me also... I have not heard of condensers (or heat pumps) literally exploding. Sometimes a severe electrical short (electrical short is a general term that can be roughly defined as electricity for some reason traveling somewhere it was not intended to go--yeah, that is vague) can cause a loud pop that resembles an explosion sound. The pop is actually a spark. If there is enough current (current is kinda like electrical power), the spark could produce enough heat to start a fire. Note that there are a lot of assumptions here and I would not recommend this theory being taken as fact without an inspection by a qualified (and properly licensed) professional in the appropriate trade.
I would do two things:
First: Do some googling to see if there is a history of this unit (or any other Carrier unit) having this problem. The reason for limiting the search to Carrier is because you have Carrier installed at your townhome community.
Next I would go ahead and get someone independent (and with properly credentials) to inspect the installations. If you indeed find problems, you have a place to start from to file a legal claim against whomever...
Personally, this sounds like an installation issue rather than an equipment issue.
Good luck with this one, there may be some legal procedures to get it resolved...
Please let us know what happens when it is all over, THX!
Last edited by ga-hvac-tech; 07-09-2008 at 12:56 PM.
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The only type of popping with a fire that I have seen is the plastic capaciters blowing and setting the control panel on fire. My neighbors did this and it burned the paint off the top of the unit. This was a Nordyne product. I don't know if Carrier uses thes plastic capaciters.
Can they determine exactly what burned up or exploded first? I would think it would be pretty hard for a tech to determine what may happen in the future without more information.
At this point , with three units doing the same thing I would be leary of keeping the unit also unless it is determined that it is a installation problem.
Its a good Life!
Do you have gas heat?
Are your gas meters in teh same area as the condensers?
Are the gas line vents close to the A/C condensers?
I'd report these to the consumer product safety folks.
A few years ago, capacitors made in China would spontaneously burst into flames on audio amplifiers. It seems that someone in Japan sold only part of the technology for the manufacture of the capacitors.
I'd ask the fire marshall how the last fire started. If it started in the capacitor, I'd ask Carrier to replace all of them asap. If the fire didn't start in the capacitor, then a complete anaysis of the installs is in order.
A class action may be warranted, or a joint suit by the home owners might be needed. First, I'd have the home owners' association contact the Carrier factory and the local jobber through an attorney's letter requesting assistance.
Could be the compressor terminals letting go....but three in one complex, all for that reason? Hard to believe.
Do these fires happen during cooling or heating season? Is the heating component also outside? And as beenthere asked, is it gas heat? Package units or split systems?
A class action suit may help.
Shouldn't take longer then 5 to 10 years to come to a settlement.
In the mean time. Her home owners insurance should pay for the damages done to your unit and home.
Her insurance company should be investigating this themselves.
The gas company has all ready been out from the state office in Richmond, they have ruled out a gas explosion, all explosions happen during the summer months, the gas lines and meters are all on same side A/C pipes run under the meter into the house. Spoke to fire marshall and he siad they usually rule these things an accident and let the insurance companies figure it out. I do not think the insurance is doing anything though because both trach condesers are still sitting out back waiting to be replaced off to the side. need to take pictures. The units are 38CKC split system Air conditoners
The CKC and Bryant twin 561 are the most popular units in town. About every vinyl village and even the rich folks homes have them everywhere. Noisy little suckers but seem pretty bulletproof though we did have to change a comp on one yesterday, right after a lightning storm. Didn't go boom though. Was interesting that there are none of this size little Bristol at the parts house with 150 on backorder!
Most boomin' we ever see out of any A/C is the pins blowing out once in a great while.