Gas floor furnace

karin_sjNovember 5, 2013

We bought a house that has a very old Montgomery Wards gas floor heater. It seems to work OK but the smell is just horrendous, even after my husband vacuumed it thoroughly and after running it for a long time.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of the smell or what would cause such a bad odor? I'd like to have someone repair it but I'm having a really hard time finding anyone who will tackle this old relic.

Are there any other solutions for replacing this type of furnace with another, besides a full-blown (and very expensive) forced air system?

Any replies/advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Is it natural gas-fired? What is the smell like?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 2:37PM
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Do you have a CO (carbon monoxide) detector? If you do and it is NOT alarming, great.

I had a house with a floor furnace for 6 years. Originally installed in 1944, the unit was suited to the climate and the home construction. If yours heats the house well I would not advise any expensive changes. Just repair or replace the existing furnace. Given the age I would lean toward replacement with a new unit. Based on a quick web search, see

As far as repairs, however, there isn't much to fix on a floor furnace because if the burner runs the furnace is working. If you're getting any kind of smell of combustion you may have a cracked heat exchanger and that means replacement because it is dangerous. As "ionized" asks, is it gas or oil? Either one can produce a smell if not burning efficiently. Once tuned correctly gas burners tends to work right for a long time without much maintenance, while oil burners need periodic adjustment of electrodes, filter changes, nozzle replacement. These *could* produce a smell, *but* most of that should go up the chimney.

Unless you have a cracked heat exchanger, which you would smell and which means you are in danger. I repeat, you are in danger.

If you consider replacing with forced air, remember you will be adding cost and complexity without necessarily improving performance. It's not easy to retrofit good ductwork.

You need to act fast and have a backup heating plan because a technician may be required to test the heat exchanger with smoke and may also be required to shut the unit down if a problem is found. Assuming you are in the northern hemisphere, you should probably find the nearest Cozy or competitive distributor now. They will be able to repair or replace.

Just my two cents' worth. I am not a heating technician.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Thanks for the replies. I had a service person come and look at the gas floor heater and he actually said that he hasn't seen too many that are as clean and in as good of shape as this one is! Apparently, there are no cracks and all of the burners are on and burning evenly.

I put the heater on all day after he left and the smell has definitely gotten better. So, I think I'm OK--at least for this season! But thanks again for replying and sharing your knowledge, Kevin.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 12:40AM
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I've replaced a lot of these with Rinnai Energysavers. There is no cost benefit to repairing these things. They were about 50-60% efficient day one. You will be much more comfortable and no odors.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 10:44AM
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I was raised in a house with two of these gas floor heaters. The smell I remember came at the beginning of the season when all the dust, debris, dead roaches, cat crap and whatever was in the bottom of the heater would vaporize. After a few days the smell would dissappear.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 12:15AM
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Thanks for your message, weedmeister. It's good to hear from someone who has so much experience with these things! I believe you are right because the smell has gone down to nothing after several days of running it. And it actually works pretty well in getting the house warm.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 5:36PM
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