Valparaiso family forced to rely on space heaters after furnace melts

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
VALPARAISO, Ind (WLS) -- The I-Team investigated melting furnace parts and got results for one angry home owner. Consumer Investigative Reporter Jason Knowles has the story of a family who said a broken furnace forced them to use space heaters all winter.

With more chilly days ahead, one homeowner is hoping to get a replacement furnace soon. He turned to the I-Team when he said he couldn't get satisfaction from a popular furnace manufacturer about a melted, potentially dangerous furnace. The I-Team found other customers who dealt with similar problems.

The melted and charred parts of Bob Christopher's furnace in Valparaiso, Ind., is the kind of damage that would be worrisome for any homeowner.

"I was shocked. When I seen all the parts that had melted the wiring that had melted, and this furnace was supposed to be able to shut off on its own if anything like this happened," Christopher said.

Christopher said the problem started in December. When he noticed the heat was not working, he took a closer look at his furnace and found the burned components. He started using space heater and called the furnace company, Carrier, who sent out a representative.

"The gentleman that they sent out had been working with them for 35 years, and he told me this is the worst one he had ever seen. That I was lucky our house didn't burn down," said Christopher.

The I-Team found that in 2008, Carrier settled a class action lawsuit over its high-efficiency condensing furnaces. While the company did not admit to any wrongdoing, the complaint states the furnaces were manufactured with a "secondary condensing heat exchange made" from inferior materials that causes damage to the furnace. A recall was never issued. Christopher said he gave Carrier his model and serial number, and they told him he had one of those furnaces in question.

"My number one concern is that there's people out there right now that have these furnaces," he said.

Christopher said Carrier first only offered to replace a part in his furnace, but there was too much damage. Then, he said, they offered him $500 toward a replacement.

"I would have to buy one of their high-end furnaces, which was going to cost me $1,800 more. I don't have that kind of money," Christopher said.

So the I-Team called Carrier. On the phone its spokesman said the company was already working with Christopher to address his concerns. Carrier offered him a new furnace and installation. Carrier workers came to his home to assess the job and begin the process.

"I'd like to thank Jason Knowles and the ABC 7 I-Team for their help with my problems, with my furnace... I can't thank them enough. Without the I-Team and people like these there is no help for the little guy," Christopher said.

If you own or owned a high efficiency gas furnace, you could get benefits from a class action settlement. Click here to read the full Carrier settlement agreement.

The following gas furnace model numbers are included in the settlement:

58SX* 58DXC 58MXB 58MVP
58SXC 58MCA 58SXB* 58MTA
58DX* 58MXA 58VUA 58MTB

Bryant/Payne/Day & Night

398AAW* 398AAV 398BAZ 490AAV
399AAW* 340AAV 321AAZ PG9MAB
399AAZ 350AAV 355MAV 355CAV
399AAV 351DAS 355AAV 340MAV
345MAV 355BAV 352MAV 398BAW*

*Note: On model numbers 58SX, 58DX, 58SXB, 398AAW, 399AAW, and 398BAW only those with serial
numbers 89 or higher in the third and fourth position (i.e. xx89xxxxxx) are included in the settlement. null
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