It is always a good idea to have your commercial air conditioning checked out and maintained. If you do not, more serious problems could arise, such as a fire. In the event that your commercial air conditioner ignites, it is not just the fire itself you have to worry about. Here are the other problems that could occur, inside your building, when your A/C unit outside is on fire.
Smoke Flowing Inside
Tons of smoke could flow through the A/C system and into your building via the ventilation system. Not only would the building smell bad, but the smoke could get thick enough to choke anyone still in the building (if you have not evacuated already). Smoke damage is most certainly a probability, one which could have been prevented.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If your smoke alarms are not fully functional and do not alert you and everyone in the building to a fire, then you should hope that the carbon monoxide detectors are working. A flaming commercial A/C unit can send a lot of carbon monoxide into the building, creating a very toxic breathing environment. Even without flames and smoke, a poorly maintained A/C unit can do this, sending dozens of people to the hospital or home sick.
Other Possible Poisons
While it is rare, it is not improbable for commercial air conditioning units to send other toxic gases into the building when the units are on fire. This would include the refrigerant gases commonly used in your A/C units, which are converted from liquid to gas and then used to cool the air that is pumped back into the building. A malfunctioning (i.e., engulfed in flames) air conditioner could send some of that gas into the building, and it would be truly toxic to anyone that is within a few inches to a few feet of the air vents. Hopefully, somebody would either notice the flames on the air conditioners outside before things get this far, or something else would alert you to the fact that your A/C is on fire and everyone in the building is in danger.
Prevention Is the Best Action
Action is always better than reaction, and prevention better than emergency solutions. It only takes an HVAC technician or contractor a few minutes to examine your units and make sure they are in excellent working order. If they are not, things are quickly fixed and all of the above is prevented. Contact a company like Associated Mechanical Contractors, Inc. to learn more.