Common gas furnaces linked to carbon monoxide exposure

Carrier Gas furnaces produced between 1989 and 2011 had a design flaw that allowed CO to circulate back into the home.

Vancouver Sun 2 minute read September 16, 2021

Certain Carrier Gas furnaces, which are commonly used in B.C., have a design flaw that has caused several dangerous carbon monoxide exposures in the province, according to a Technical Safety BC report Thursday.

The safety authority launched an investigation after eight people were hospitalized in separate incidents because of carbon monoxide exposures caused by failures in the line of residential gas-burning furnaces.

Lead investigator Eric Lalli said Technical Safety BC is recommending owners of Carrier furnaces immediately install a CO detector and contact a licensed contractor to inspect their unit.

“These furnaces have the potential to release elevated levels of CO for some time before being detected, and British Columbians may not be aware of the potential hazard present in their homes,” he said.

Although the manufacturer stopped making these furnaces in 2011, the agency said many B.C. residents are still using the old ones.

Technical Safety estimates there are hundreds of these furnaces still in operation, if not thousands, based on response from gas contractors interviewed in 2020.

Carbon monoxide risks can include serious illness, severe side effects or death.

Carrier Gas furnaces produced between 1989 and 2011 may require updates or repairs, so anyone who has one should call a licensed gas contractor, the report said.

The report found that the Carrier Gas furnaces during this time period had a common design feature that contributed to the failures, specifically, a problem with the polypropylene lined secondary heat exchangers.

This component was found to be susceptible to corrosion, which interfered with combustion air flow, which in some cases produced CO, the report said.

Carbon monoxide was detected in occupied living spaces, having escaped the furnaces because of corrosion holes in the heat exchangers or to corrosion blockage that allowed CO to circulate back into the home in certain venting configurations, according to Technical Safety BC.