Common gas furnaces pose risk to the public

November 29, 2022

Vancouver, BC (September 15, 2021) – Technical Safety BC, the organization responsible for overseeing the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment across British Columbia, conducted a comprehensive investigation into commonly used Carrier Gas furnaces, and found that a design flaw resulted in numerous dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) exposures in recent years. 

Technical Safety BC carried out this investigation following multiple incidents in which eight people were hospitalized across BC due to carbon monoxide exposures caused by failures in a common product line of residential gas burning furnaces.

“Carbon monoxide exposure can be deadly, which is why we recommend owners of Carrier furnaces immediately install a CO detector and contact a licensed contractor to inspect their unit,” said Eric Lalli, Leader, Incident Investigation. “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.”

Although the manufacturer ceased production of these furnaces in 2011, many furnaces remain in operation throughout the province.

Contractors and homeowners should be aware of carbon monoxide risks—which can include serious illness, severe side effects, or death—and check their homes for Carrier Gas furnaces produced between 1989 and 2011 as they may require updates or repairs. British Columbians who have them installed in their homes should seek the expertise of a licensed gas contractor to look for potential safety hazards.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can be hazardous to health and potentially life threatening if not detected early.

Technical Safety BC determined that the Carrier Gas furnaces had a common design feature that contributed to the failures, specifically, polypropylene lined secondary heat exchangers.  This component was found to be susceptible to corrosion, which interfered with combustion airflow, which in some cases produced CO. 

Carbon monoxide was detected in occupied living spaces, having escaped the furnaces due to corrosion holes in the heat exchangers or due to corrosion blockage that allowed CO to circulate back into the home in certain venting configurations. It was further determined that built-in automatic safety devices did not reliably detect the conditions produced by the corroded secondary heat exchangers.

About Technical Safety BC
Technical Safety BC (formerly BC Safety Authority) is an independent, self-funded organization that oversees the safe installation and operation of technical systems and equipment. In addition to issuing permits, licences and certificates, it works with industry to reduce safety risks through assessment, education and outreach, enforcement, and research.

Media contact
Technical Safety BC