CASE STUDY #3 - Investigation of a Furnace that Caused a Fire

 

Challenge 
A two-story home burned. The insurance company investigators were trying to figure out how the furnace could start a fire six feet away from it in the supply air metal ducting. The furnace needed to be “ruled in” or “ruled out” as the cause of this house fire. If a gas (furnace) burner has “incomplete combustion” one byproduct can be methane gas. Methane gas is combustible.

Goal of the Client

To determine if this furnace was the cause of this house fire.
Why did this furnace not start this house fire?
If this furnace was not the cause of this house fire then how did this fire start?

Results
At the fire scene, the furnace was temporarily wired and operating for temporary heat. Appliance Analysis, Inc. was able to inspect the furnace in question. A visual inspection found that the left burner ignition was a little delayed. This delay was due to all the dirt and debris in the air from the fire and the burner/heat exchanger being dirty.

A combustion analysis was performed and all of these readings were found to be normal. This furnace did not start this house on fire.

 

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