– By Steven R. Napoles, Esq. (originally published in Winter 2001)
In September, 2000, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning for 190,000 furnaces sold in California from 1983 to 1994. The CPSC warning covers gas-fired horizontal forced-air furnaces manufactured by Consolidated Industries (formerly known as Premier Furnace Company). The warning specifically focuses on the substantial fire risk that the Consolidated/Premier furnaces present.
These furnaces were sold under a variety of names including: Addison, Amana, American Best, American Standard, Bard, Century, Comfort Aire, Coleman, Consolidated, Franklin Electric, Goettl, Goodman, Hamilton Electric, Heat Controller, Janitrol, Johnstone, Keeprite, Kenmore, Liberty, Magic Chef, P.F.C., Premier, Sears, Sunbelt, Sunburst, Sundial, Sun Glow, Trane and Weatherking. The defective furnaces can be identified by the presence of steel control rods installed above the burners. These particular models are normally found in the attic, but may also be installed in crawl spaces. The CPSC warning recommends that anyone who owns one of the furnaces have it inspected by a licensed heating contractor to determine if any problems exist. The CPSC also recommends that the fire danger posed by the defective furnaces can be reduced by:
1. Protecting the wood surfaces around the furnace by covering decking and rafters with a non-combustible material, such as cement board, extending one foot around the furnace; 2. Provide an airspace beneath the furnace (this should be done by a licensed contractor); 3. Make sure that the furnace is installed properly and serviced by a licensed contractor on an annual basis; and, 4. Install an ionization type smoke detector inside the attic or crawl space where the furnace is located.
Unfortunately, Consolidated/Premier, the manufacturer of the defective furnaces, has filed for bankruptcy and the availability of repair by the company is uncertain. For more information on the CPSC warning or affected models, log onto the following website: or call the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772.