In the early 1900s, gas floor furnaces were commonly used to heat homes and businesses. While these units provided a source of cost efficient heating, mechanical and safety issues led to using more reliable methods of heating. However, if these units are properly maintained, they can be safely operated. Though not as safe as modern furnaces, improvements through the years have made them relatively safe when combined with routine safety inspections to insure their operational integrity. While your gas floor furnace might be producing heat, there could be a hidden danger!
Most floor furnaces are installed with the majority of the furnace protruding into the crawl space under the floor of a conventional wood frame structure where they are out of sight and mind. The integrity of the operational controls and vent system cannot be easily assessed as it requires a crawl under the house. Often we find rusted out vents, draft diverters, and burners that need attention in order to make the furnace safe.
Most local utility companies are not willing to do this, so a well trained technician from a firm like Dial ONE Schilling Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning is usually the only option. Along with a thorough under house inspection, a comprehensive heat exchanger inspection should also be done from inside the living space. Special care should be taken to make sure the pilot access cover is in good condition and in place while operating the furnace. The condition of the grills and grates should also be assessed.