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Octopus furnace repair

labratsusie Member Posts: 1
I have an octopus furnace and asbestos-wrapped ductwork in the basement of my home, which was destroyed by fire in November. The entire house must be gutted before reconstruction can begin,. All of the hot-air registers and cold-air returns are in the floor, resulting in a significant amount of water and debris entering my ductwork, furnace and basement. It has been in this condition for 4 months, and I'm not sure when demo is set to begin. The insurance company wants to only clean the furnace and ducts, rather than replace them. Is this the safe and proper thing to do? Please advise. 


  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,271
    If they are metal ducts (i believe they are) then cleaning will be all that is necessary. The problem is access to the ducts for the cleaning machine. Will the cleaning process disturb the asbestos? If that happens, who is going to pay for the asbestos abatement? Some of those machines can really vibrate. Even though the asbestos is on the outside of the ductwork, the ducts are still inside your home.

    Is the insurance company willing to guarantee there will be no airborne asbestos in your home? Will they put that in writing? Will they guarantee the home will be back to "Pre Fire" livable condition? That is the reason for purchasing fire insurance.

    Have you considered getting a Public Adjuster? The adjuster the insurance company sent, works for the insurance company. You can get an adjuster that works for you. I believe that they are well worth the fee.

    Respectfully submitted,
    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org

  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,337
    edited March 2021
    If you go that route, I don't know how good the duct cleaning will be so consider taping filters to the registers to catch rust dust and prevent the dust from spreading around house.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,334
    Is the cleaning contractor going to take the responsibility of possible asbestos contamination? I doubt it.
    I agree with @EdTheHeaterMan Get a public adjuster that represents YOU.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,334
    By chance is there a Disclaimer on the insurance concerning Asbestos Abatement, As in Not Covered?
  • Jon_blaney
    Jon_blaney Member Posts: 279
    Do you have building code enforcement? With this much damage you are usually required to bring everything up to code. I can not believe this will be code compliant.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,654
    Yeah, this doesn't sound like a good idea. I would not accept the insurance companies settlement unless this is inspected and abated properly
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,044
    Assuming this is gas fired, if the gas valve and controls got wet from the fire dept water they must be replaced. Same for a water heater.
    The furnace gas valve could be almost irreplaceable without a lot of modification to the burner and gas train.
    Water would have run down into the furnace air plenum and may be sitting there waiting to grow mold.

    Look for a water line on the wall and furnace in the basement.

    Even if the asbestos got wet it will wash down onto the floor and need to be cleaned up.

    I would almost expect a new heating system out of this claim.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,655
    Doesn't the code itself also require that any appliances that were in the fire get replaced regardless of if they got wet or not?

    Seems like the asbestos paper and coatings would have been disturbed in the fire and the firefighting efforts and should be removed as part of the clean up.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 12,654
    I'm a saver but this is a rip out IMHO
  • labratsusie
    labratsusie Member Posts: 1
    Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. The asbestos and rust are my biggest concerns, which you've all confirmed. I'm definitely going to press this further. I appreciate the feedback.
  • jimna01
    jimna01 Member Posts: 21
    Even if a "public" adjuster concludes that the furnace should be replaced, read your insurance policy about exclusions from hazardous materials. You may still be on the hook for the asbestos . On the bright side when my sister replaced her "octopus" furnace with a modern one, she cut her oil consumption 50% .
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 726
    What's the company ? Fight them on this ...... Do you have code coverage ?

    Crazy -- what are they going to do to make sure there is no smell from the exterior insulation?

    I have had two major fires in my life -- even with everything in place the process is difficult. I don't know how the put a system back in a gutted house w/o replacing. Move the money around and find a way to replace.
  • LeahTerry
    LeahTerry Member Posts: 2
    edited April 2021
    I think that your insurance company is wrong. It's not safe! You should definitely replace the furnace and ducts in this situation. At least, every good professional would recommend you the same thing. I remember when I had almost the same problem with my ventilation system. The insurance company didn't want to get involved, but the problem was very serious. Lucky for me, I was able to find a solution. I hired good specialists who provide professional duct repair services in my city. They repaired everything and now my ventilation system works perfectly. Anyway, I think it's time to change the insurance company...
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,524
    Get your local building code inspector involved. When I worked for the gas company and we were called out concerning fire and water damage the building inspector would require replacement of the heating system under code.