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Help - plastic burned on floor furnace


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Yesterday, while walking our dog, the thermostat kicked in (hadn't worked in a week). I returned home to smoke filled, toxic smelling house and called the FD.

Thank goodness I didn't burn the place down and yes, I'm feeling very stupid. I'd gotten lazy about keeping furnace grate clear since it wasn't kicking on when I wanted to use it. Just brought in a small electric heater and forgot about it.

Now I have a terrible smell and I'm trying to get an idea how difficult this is to clean or have cleaned. There's probably about a tennis ball size quantity melted on unit.

Anyone else familiar with this kind of mess?

FYI, I found this advice on yahoo but am reluctant to start pulling on anything without knowing what I'm doing. Much thanks in advance for any input.

"The furnace still works but she'll have to scrape off the melted plastic.

Take off the floor grill. Remove the rectangle liner. It lifts out. Then she can access the heat exchanger. Use a putty knife to scrape it and try to catch the plastic before it falls to the bottom. There is only a narrow opening around the heat exchanger so she may have to use her arm to fit down in it to clean. There will be dust and dirt at the bottom, even coins, bobby pins, you name it, that she can remove while reaching in there. Good luck."

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Well, it's not something that's happened to me before but my first thought would be to shut the furnace completely off -- including the pilot light. Let it cool completely so the plastic hardens as much as possible. You might even try placing a ziploc bag of ice on it. Then try to scrape/lift it off with a putty knife. If the furnace was dusty or rusty it may not have bonded well anyway. You won't hurt the furnace with a putty knife.

And if that doesn't work I'd try the opposite. Use a hair dryer to gently heat and soften the plastic while trying to scrape it off.

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We once lived in a place with one of those when I was about 7 or 8.

My brother and I used to get a kick out of the sizzle that heat exchanger would make when we dropped a little spit on it and the smell would gross out our sisters. Dropped a rabbit's foot down there once and man that was one nasty smelling thing when all that hair burned off.

We once reenacted a human volcano sacrifice on the edge of the grate using a toy soldier. Man, did that plastic smell up the place until it was completely baked off that exchanger.



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