"Consolidated Furnaces Are A Fire Hazard"- Fallbrook Home Inspector
If you have a horizontal, gas-fired furnace in your attic and your home was built between 1983 and 1995, you should contact a professional home inspector and have your furnace evaluated. Somewhere between 750,000 and 1.2 million inferior-made furnaces were manufactured by Consolidated Industries between 1983 and 1991. These units were distributed nationwide and many still exist in homes today. As a Fallbrook home inspector, I often find these units installed and in use in many southern California homes. Most times, the owner is completely unaware of the hazard they pose. These furnaces present a serious fire hazard and have been responsible for many house fires.
First, let's identify these hazardous units:
The easiest way to identify one is to look for the "ash tray" plates that were mounted on many of the units. If you see one or two of these "ash trays" on your furnace, there is a high probability it is a Consolidated furnace.
Next, look at the manufacturer's label. If the model number begins with HAC, HCC, HCA or HBA it is not safe to use. These are the most common model numbers used for these units, however, there are also a host of others used. Most of the furnaces were labeled with branded names, so the label may not say "Consolidated Industries". Common brand names used were Premier, Amana, Goettl, Janitrol, Magic Chef, Bard, and many others.
The issue with these furnaces is the inferior design of the burners and heat exchanger. These components were made using a low-grade, cold-pressed steel and inferior manufacturing. Warping and cracking occurs when they are subjected to high temperatures or flame impingement. The welding seams crack allowing open flame into your attic. In 2001, The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall on certain Consolidated Industries furnaces that had NOX rods installed on the burners (to control emissions), however, fire statistics show that even those models without NOX rods are not safe to use. The absence of NOX rods does not make the unit safer.
These furnaces also present a carbon monoxide hazard. Carbon monoxide can be drawn into the cracks and holes in the heat exchanger, which can then be mixed with the supply air and distributed throughout the home. This is a life-threatening situation to the occupants.
If you believe you have one of these furnaces in your home, you should immediately stop using it. Call Steve Stenros- First Choice Inspections, a Fallbrook home inspector, for evaluation of the unit. Steve is a CREIA-certified inspector with the MCI designation (Master CREIA Inspector) and can be reached for appointment at 888-335-3040.