Furnaces Need Yearly Scrutiny

I totally agree with Jerry Hanen of Palmer’s Plumbing Service, Inc., of Youngtown, AZ [“Check Gas Heat Units Frequently,” Jan 14]. Tim McElwain [“McElwain’s Reply,” Jan 14] needs to be corrected on the carbon monoxide issue! The checks he gave for a one-hour quick checkup were doing a poor service for the customer and not doing a proper job — plus opening him up to a possible lawsuit.

My guys use both an infrared inspector camera and a Kane-May SG-1 single gas CO detector. The proper way to check a gas furnace is to check for gas leaks with soap solution and then do a high-limit test, checking all functions of the t-stat and ductwork while the furnace is running for approximately 20 minutes.

Then check with SG-1 for CO inside the living space, but first calibrate outside per manufacturer’s instructions. Then we use the inspector to check the heat exchanger for cracks. We also do a through-the-plenum inspection. To say the cracked heat exchanger is not dangerous and doesn’t leak CO into the home is totally wrong! Every heat exchanger we say is cracked, the gas company usually always backs us up and shuts the gas off to the appliance!

And to say, “It has been my 40 years of experience that yearly inspections are not necessary” — well, that statement is irresponsible and dangerous! From experience, like Jerry Hanen, I have found hundreds of furnaces from 5 to 10 years old that were cracked. Houston is a very humid and hot place to say the least. Apparently Riverside, RI, is not hot and humid, and for McElwain to suggest that he is an authority on other parts of the country is placing one’s foot in one’s mouth. Every region of the country that I have lived and worked in, the gas company always recommends that the gas furnaces get checked for CO every year.

John Conley, President, Admiral Services, Houston, TX

To Err Is Human

I read John R. Hall’s column on the squeaky-clean tech [“Finding The Squeaky-Clean Technician,” Jan. 21] and I couldn’t agree more. Some of those guys that need a “hand up” have been my best, most loyal technicians. Everyone has had a problem or two. Real character comes in correcting and not repeating past mistakes. We’re all human.

Verlon L. Wulf, President, Carolina Cooling & Plumbing, Inc., Surfside Beach, SC

Publication date: 02/18/2002