Flame Roll Out - Get Your Furnace Inspected

Discuss & collaborate on issues of public safety and fire prevention.
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Flame Roll Out - Get Your Furnace Inspected

Postby pkneeyahx » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:11 pm

I just thought I would share my story on this forum. I have recently been subject to a very potential and dangerous situation. We bought our home almost exactly a year ago. When the building inspector went through he did a very thorough job. He instructed us to get our furnace inspected, and we were going to.. we just got busy with other things, spring, then summer came and we forgot all about it.

Until this winter when we started using the furnace again. Last winter it made little bangs on startup, but we wrote them off as normal furnace sounds. This year was a bit worse. I best describe it as backfiring. Almost house shaking, and last Wednesday I called up the guys who installed and last inspected it.

Now before I go on, I should add that the previous owner is an area Electrician, and he also stated on the Seller Property Information Statement that he was not aware of any problems with the HVAC systems.

The techs show up and get to work, they were able to recreate the backfire, which is actually more commonly referred to as Flame Roll Out. They ordered the unit red tagged and disconnected the gas line and power to it. First thing they asked was if I had a CO detector, which I do and is a year old and is in the uppermost part of my home, and has never gone off or registered a reading. They then determined that the furnace has a cracked Heat Exchanger. And then they found that the Roll Out switch, a safety feature that was supposed to shut the unit down when this happens was jumped. So.. when it should have shut down, it just continued operating, blowing out flames, flue, what have you into the airstream.

The problem is now being fixed. We're half furious half happy that this potential hazard was spotted sooner than later. We've been in contact with the Lawyer but at 300 bucks an hour, it wont be worth it to cover the cost of the repair. We're looking into small claims ct...

Anyways, the moral of the story is get your furnace inspected yearly, preferably in the summer months!!!! :] I'm about to head into Day 7 with a cooler than desired home. A plate for the new Heat Exchanger is being couriered in.

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Postby tr23 » Fri Feb 09, 2007 8:46 pm

In Ontario bypassing the roll-out for one night, never mind an extended period of time, is illegal and could easily cost someone their gas license due to seriousness of those safety controls. All fuel burning furnaces and fireplaces should be inspected annually for the soundness of their heat exchangers and safety controls. Fire/explosions/electrical shorts and CO poisoning are possibilities, especially with older equipment.
There is a growing belief in the HVAC community that many deaths that are attributed to natural causes, especially among the elderly, or those with respiratory weakness, are actually caused by CO production in the furnace. Any tenant of homeowner who suffers from fatigue, headaches, dizziness or other odd symptoms, should have a full check-out of any fuel burning equipment in the home, and follow-up with annual maintenace.

Not trying to make people paranoid, just pointing out a piece of equipment that people should keep maintained.

"Wisdom begins in wonder."

"It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required." Sir Winston Churchill

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Postby DFCSmash » Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:09 pm

Back bout 20 years ago, my Dad and Mom bought one of those new (at the time) high efficiency propane furnaces. The first two years went okay, then came winter #3. Mom noticed she was doing more cleaning, dusting etc. Dad was feeling a little "draggy", but by the time he got home from the store each night, he felt fine. Winter 4 was worse. About then, ICG found that a series of the Natural Gas unit were having a problem with cracking heat exchangers. When we recieved our FD notification of this problem, I called Dad immediately. After more than a few phone calls, ICG came out and determined that indeed the exchanger was cracked. Removed and replaced the furnace with another "improved model". This one wouldn't always start, and they kept waking up in a house that was at about 45*F. So now they have forced air electric. But the CO almost did him in. It's a good thing my folks were healthy and active 60-somethings, or they likely wouldn't have made it through.

What pissed me, was that even though ICG recalled and replaced all the faulty natural gas units at their expense, the propane units weren't covered. So the folks had to pay for their own replacement. And at no point when the government discovered the problem in the gas units, was there even a heads up notification sent to the owners of propane units. Makes you wonder.

Glad to hear you're alright, sorry to hear about your whole house cooling project in February.
This is of course only my opinion. But then again, what else matters? It is not necessarily the opinion or policy of the department I belong to or the community I live in.

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