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Heating Inspections

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Types of Heating Systems

Steam, hot water, forced warm air, and electric heating systems all function in the same basic way. Each system is equipped with a control, a heat producer, a heat exchanger, and a heat distributor.

  • The control, called a thermostat, signals a need for heat.
  • The signal turns on the heat producer, usually an oil or gas burner or an electric heating element.
  • The heat warms the transfer medium (air, water, or steam) in the heat exchanger.
  • If the heat exchanger heats air, it is a furnace.
  • If the heat exchanger heats water or produces steam, it is a boiler.
  • The transfer medium moves by gravity or is forced through ducts (warm air) or pipes (water or steam) to the heat distributors located in the living areas.
  • The heat distributors in a forced warm-air system are registers.
  • The heat distributors in a hot water or steam system are convectors or radiators. In a hot water radiant heating system, the water moves through tubing concealed in the ceiling, walls, or floor.
  • Return ducts or pipes carry the medium back to the heat exchanger.
  • When the temperature reaches the level set on the thermostat, the thermostat automatically shuts down the system.

Electric Boilers and Furnaces

In an electric boiler or furnace, the heating elements are immersed directly in the transfer medium, either water or air. Maintenance of such a system is similar to that required for a gas or oil-fired boiler or furnace; problems with the electric heating elements are best left to a professional.

Duct Heaters

Designed for installations in the ducts of an existing forced warm-air hearing, duct heaters can be turned on at the same time as the blower or can be operated by a separate thermostat located in an area requiring supplemental heat. The heaters must be controlled so they don’t turn on unless the blower is running.

Baseboard Heaters

These heaters require no pipes or ducts. They connect directly to the electrical system in the house. A good choice for a room addition or a hard-to-heat area, a baseboard heater has its own thermostat and safety thermal cutoff switch.

  • Some baseboard heaters use resistance coils that glow red-hot.
  • Others have a resistance wire that heats a ceramic tube.
  • Still others have the heating element immersed in a sealed tube. Fins that radiate heat into the room surround the tubes.

Most baseboard heaters are very reliable. If you do have a problem, you’ll have to call in an electrician.

Wall and Ceiling Heaters

Suitable for bathrooms and other small areas, these resistance-heated units are mounted in a wall or ceiling and are wired directly into the electrical system. Clean the heater occasionally. Replace a defective one.

Radiant Heating Panels

These may be electrically heated glass panels mounted in walls or ceilings or special gypsum board panels embedded with electric resistance wires and installed in place of regular gypsum board. Both kinds are wired into the electrical system and are controlled by a thermostat. Once installed, they provide trouble-free service for years.

Steam Heat

A hallmark of many older homes, steam heat begins in a boiler fueled by gas, oil, or electricity. The boiler turns water into steam, which rises through pipes to radiators or convectors. There the steam gives up its heat and condenses into water, which returns to the boiler.

Hot Water Heat

In a hot water heating system, water heating in a boiler travels through a network of pipes to the heat distributors (usually convectors or radiators) where the heat is given off. The cooled water then returns to the boiler through the return pipe.

  • In older homes, the movement of water is governed by gravity. Warmer, lighter water rises and takes the place of heavier, cooler water.
  • The more modern hydronic systems employ a circulating pump to move the water under pressure. A thermostat governs the operation of the pump as well as the burner.
  • An expansion tank, usually mounted above the boiler, contains air and water. The air acts as a cushion to maintain heated water at the proper pressure.

Recall Information:

    If you are purchasing a home built between the ages of 1983-1992 it may contain one of the furnaces involved in the CPSC Recall below. We carry a list of these serial numbers with us along with other inspection tools to the home inspection and inspect and perform a function test on the heating and cooling system.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Office of Information and Public Affairs
Washington, DC 20207
Originally issued July 9, 2001
Last Revised July 11, 2006
Release # 01-189
Furnace Recall Hotline: (877) 347-6456
CPSC Consumer Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: Ken Giles, (301) 504-7052

Note: model number added and settlement of private litigation announced.
Opportunity for remedy from litigation has expired.
CPSC Announces Recall of Furnaces in California
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is announcing a recall of about 30,000 furnaces sold in California. Seven firms are offering to repair or replace certain furnaces, which were sold under their own labels, but were manufactured by Consolidated Industries Inc. The units involved are gas-fired horizontal furnaces equipped with steel “NOx” rods installed above the burners and are commonly called NOx rod furnaces. These furnaces pose a substantial risk of fire.

CPSC has received 50 reports of fires associated with the 140,000 horizontal furnaces manufactured by Consolidated Industries Inc. No injuries have been reported.

All the furnaces can be identified by the steel rods installed above the burners. The firms participating in this recall are Amana Company, L.P., of Amana, Iowa; Bard Manufacturing, of Bryan, Ohio; Carrier Corporation, of Syracuse, N.Y.; Goettl Air Conditioning Inc., of Phoenix, Ariz.; Goodman Manufacturing Company L.P., of Houston, Texas; Heat Controller Inc., of Jackson, Mich.; and The Trane Company, a division of American Standard Inc., of Tyler, Texas.

   Private labelers sold these furnaces in California under the following brand names and model numbers, which are written on a label on an outside panel of the furnace.

 Amana Company Amana GSE50DN3X
 Bard Manufacturing Bard ESG040D36B
 Carrier Corporation Sunburst by
 Carrier Southern California
 HAC 040N(D,E, or F)3RXC
 HAC 050N(D,E, or F)5RXC
 HAC 060N(D,E, or F)4RXC
 HAC 075N(D,E, or F)4RXC
 HAC 080N(D,E, or F)5RXC
 HAC 100N(D,E, or F)5RXC
 Goettl Air Conditioning Inc. American Best
 HAC 040N(D,E, or F)3RCX
 HAC 050N(D,E, or F)3RCX
 HAC 040N(D,E, or F)3RXD
 HAC 050N(D,E, or F)3RXD
 HAC 040N(D,E, or F)3RXC
 HAC 050N(D,E, or F)3RXC
 HAC 060N(D,E, or F)4RXC
 HAC 075N(D,E, or F)4RXC
 HAC 080N(D,E, or F)5RXC
 HAC 100N(D,E, or F)5RXC
 HCC 040N(D,E, or F)3RX
 HCC 050N(D,E, or F)3RX
 HCC 060N(D,E, or F)4RX
 HCC 075N(D,E, or F)4RX
 HCC 100N(D,E, or F)5RX
 HBA 040N(D,E, or F)3RX
 HBA 060N(D,E, or F)3RX
 HBA 080N(D,E, or F)4RX
 HBA 100N(D,E, or F)5RX
 HBA 120N(D,E, or F)5RX
 Goodman Manufacturing Company Franklin Electric
 Hamilton Electric
 HBA 040 ND 3(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HBA 060 ND 3(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HBA 080 ND 4(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HBA 100 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HBA 120 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCA 040 ND 3(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCA 060 ND 3(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCA 080 ND 4(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCA 100 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCA 120 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCA 140 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCC 040 ND 3(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCC 050 ND 3(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCC 060 ND 4(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCC 075 ND 4(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCC 080 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 HCC 100 ND 5(X, RX, XC or RXC)
 Heat Controller Inc. Comfort-Aire GSH40-T3N-X
 The Trane Company Trane
 American Standard
Home, hardware and specialty stores, and independent contractors sold these furnaces in California from January 1983 through December 1992 for about $2,000.

Consumers should check to see if their furnace is part of this recall immediately. If so, or for more information, consumers should call toll-free at (877) 347-6456 anytime, or contact the recall web site at Consumers should have the brand name, model number and serial number of their furnace available when they call or contact the web site. The recall program offers free inspection and repair of the furnaces. Consumers can elect to receive a new furnace, free of charge, except for installation costs.

CPSC issued a safety alert warning about these furnaces in September 2000. Consolidated Industries (formerly Premier Furnace Co.), which was liquidated under Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws, manufactured approximately 140,000 of these furnaces for sale in California between 1983 and 1994 under many different brand names. About 110,000 of these furnaces were manufactured and distributed under the Premier/Consolidated labels. They include the brand names Consolidated, Premier, Addison, and Weatherking. They are not covered by this recall program. After Consolidated filed for bankruptcy, class action was pursued, and a settlement was ultimately reached in early 2002. However, claimants were required to file a claim by January 13, 2003. Potential claimants who missed the deadline have no remedy available. Even though no remedy is available, CPSC staff believes that the Consolidated, Premier, Addison, and Weatherking furnaces are defective and should be replaced or repaired.

These furnaces are normally installed in attics, although some may be installed in crawl spaces. The great majority of these furnaces were installed in homes in California. Some, however, were installed in home in Nevada, near the California border.

The Commission is warning consumers to have their gas-fired furnaces inspected by a licensed heating contractor to determine whether the furnaces are subject to this safety alert. The contractor also should determine whether the burners and/or heat exchangers of units are damaged, or whether wood under or near the furnaces shows signs of damage, such as charring or blackening. If this is the case, the furnace should be replaced immediately or repaired.

Consolidated or Premier furnaces with model numbers starting “HAC”, “HBA”, “HCA”, or “HCC” and ending with an “X” in the last three characters (e.g. X, RX, RXC, RXD) and Addison Products Company Addison and Weatherking furnaces models beginning with “GHC” and ending in either “CC” or “DX” are included in this safety alert.

More information:

Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard or can injure children. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals – contributed significantly to the 30 percent decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC’s web site at To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC’s Web site at