Rebuilt Flame Safeguard Controls : Do you really want to be involved in a law suit?

The title of this article (and idea) was actually inspired by Eric Stromquist. As an antique motorcycle restorer one thing I am very aware of when I am finished with a restoration and crank it up the first time is this motorcycle is an antique and I must be completely be aware of how the functions of this motorcycle are not of the same quality, safety, or reliability, of current motorcycles now being made. MY SAFETY DEPENDS ON MY UNDERSTANDING OF THIS!


Over my 30 plus years as a controls supplier the topic of rebuilt controls has reared its ugly head upon several occasions. I will say in all honestly, I participated at one time

with a different employer the selling of theses controls. The mind set of this employer was purely profit orientated and not of the best interests of the client/consumer involved and one of the reasons I am no longer associated with that employer. Boy…. that lifted a heavy burden off my shoulders.

If I am making tons of profit and my client is saving money what’s wrong with selling rebuilt controls? Un-like the first paragraph of this article where I use the example of my restorations, the safety, quality, and reliability are being shared by OTHERS at a client’s facility and the risks are usually unknown to all involved (even the purchaser of the control).

Facts and knowledge are the best ways of understanding the decision making process so let’s look at a couple of facts…

FACT: Rebuilt controls rarely meet industry safety standards.

New burner controls must pass rigorous safety and operational tests to receive important industry certification, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approval. Many states have adopted their own codes such as CSD-1 issued by ASME. CSD-1 clearly states: 

“The use of rebuilt or remanufactured flame safeguard equipment shall not be allowed. All boiler controls shall be listed as UL (underwriters laboratories), FM (factory mutual), or AGA (American gas association). (Authorized by and implementing K.S.A. 1999 Supp. 44-916; effective May 1, 1987; amended April 28, 2000.)”

 Some of the above groups are NOT willing to approve rebuilt controls they are NOT willing to take the risk.

FACT: Honeywell has NOT authorized ANY independent facility to repair or rebuild Honeywell controls.

A recently updated FM standard allows independent rebuilding or repair of controls with the requirement to meet OEM standards.

TAKE NOTE: Honeywell has NOT authorized ANY independent rebuild or repair facility to repair or rebuild Honeywell burner-boiler controls. As such, there are NO rebuilt Honeywell authorized boiler-burner controls certified by ANY nationally recognized testing agency.

FACT: YOU could be responsible for the losses when a rebuilt control breaks down.

Most insurance companies offer liability coverage only when the controls used are approved by a nationally recognized testing agency such as UL.  Over half the states will NOT provide CSD-1 approval for rebuilt controls. Without the possibly insurance protection, you could be responsible for substantial losses if a component fails and causes a boiler-burner breakdown.


FACT: Rebuilt controls do NOT incorporate new code requirements or design specifications.

Rebuilt controls can ONLY reflect the original requirements and requirements as their original date of manufacture. Other words OLD technology and safety requirements are the best you could hope for.

How do you recognize a rebuilt Honeywell boiler burner control?

As stated NO repair rebuild facility is authorized by Honeywell to repair or rebuild a Honeywell boiler-burner control. By law ALL rebuilt/repaired Honeywell boiler-burner controls MUST have ALL identification originally placed on the control by Honeywell REMOVED including Honeywell logos. The control must have a label placed on the control stating the control is re-manufactured NOT by the original controls manufacturer (Honeywell).

Another perspective regarding the negative ramifications of using rebuilt burner – boiler controls in manufacturing processes can be found in this article in the September 2003 issue of Plant Engineering.


One way to protect yourself from a possible litigious situation is to only buy your flame safeguard burner boiler controls from an authorized Honeywell Flame safeguard distributor.

Think about it, does it really make sense to buy insurance to protect yourself in case of a boiler explosion only to find out that you have negated your protection because you are using controls that are not approved by your safety insurer?

If you are not sure if you have factory approved flame safeguard controls and you are in Georgia or Florida you can contact Stromquist & Company for an on site survey. Others can find an authorized Honeywell Flame safeguard distributor at Controls Group North America.


Here is one last scary fact that I used to make sure all the technicians I used to teach about steam boilers to, was aware of….

By volume steam is 1600 times more than water. What does this mean to you? When a boiler that has 50 gallons of water in the boiler to make steam out of, the steam under pressure is 1600 times the volume of the water in the boiler. 1600 x 50 equals 80,000 gallons of water by volume. If a boiler-burner control fails without the proper safety precautions the expansion of the steam is more than the boiler shell can handle and the explosion can and will be devastating.
These controls are NOT playing with toys. You NEED TO BE AWARE of the consequences and understand why not to be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish. Please be safe out there I truly enjoy you as clients and readers.

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22 Responses

  1. Thank you to Control Trends for this information and their willingness to address a topic that needs more attention. Unauthorized rebuilt combusition products continue to be a serious issue in the world of controls and building owners need to know that saving a few dollars on those products is exactly what was just said, “a very bad idea.”

  2. Thanks Jim for your comments. It is scary to think about the possible safety and legal issues regarding rebuilt ( used) flame safeguard controls.

    I am not a lawyer but we have seen cases were owners that had bought rebuilt flame safeguard controls had huge legal law suits after an explosion because used rebuilt flame safeguard controls were being used on the boiler that exploded.

    If someone other than the manufacturer of the product like a Honeywell rebuilds the control and there is an explosion resulting from the use of a rebuilt ( used) flame safeguard control the original manufacturer of that flame safeguard control is going to have an out from legal action, and the owner is going to have to explain why he or she purchased a rebuilt flame safeguard control when the major manufactures

    If someone you loved died in an accident because someone was using used parts you would be very upset.

    Bottom line using rebuilt or used flame safeguard controls is way to risky for the few dollars you save.

    When it comes to boiler safety be wise and only buy new flame safety controls from authorized distributors.

  3. Eric,

    Your efforts to bring more attention to this serious matter are commendable and quite necessary. Facility Managers and Supervisors may not know the steps being taken to stop the use of rebuilt flams safeguard controls. I thought you might be interested in this Illinois General Assembly legislation filed by Rep. Lisa M. Dugan for July 1,2012:

    Rep. Lisa M. Dugan

    Filed: 3/8/2011

    09700HB1095ham001 LRB097 05696 KMW 52165 a


    2 AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend House Bill 1095 by replacing
    3 everything after the enacting clause with the following:

    4 “Section 5. The State Fire Marshal Act is amended by adding
    5 Section 4 as follows:

    6 (20 ILCS 2905/4 new)
    7 Sec. 4. Rebuilt flame safeguard controls.
    8 (a) Beginning July 1, 2012, the use of a rebuilt flame
    9 safeguard control in forced air heating equipment in any
    10 non-residential structure is prohibited.
    11 For the purposes of this Section, “flame safeguard control”
    12 means a modular burner management system that is designed to
    13 provide automatic ignition and continuous flame monitoring for
    14 use in forced air heating equipment that uses gas or light oil
    15 fuels, or both.
    16 (b) Willful failure to remove any rebuilt flame safeguard

    09700HB1095ham001 – 2 – LRB097 05696 KMW 52165 a

    1 control in forced air heating equipment as required by this Act
    2 is a Class B misdemeanor.
    3 Tampering with, removing, destroying, or disconnecting any
    4 installed flame safeguard control, except in the course of
    5 inspection, maintenance, or replacement of the control, is a
    6 Class A misdemeanor for the first conviction and a Class 4
    7 felony for a second or subsequent conviction.”.


    Ken Smyers

  4. Wow Ken “felony for a second or subsequent conviction” I had no idea about that consequence for using rebuilt flame safeguard controls.
    For those who do not know The Edward Smyers Company is the authorized
    Honeywell Flame safeguard distributor in the Pittsburg area and is a trusted source for all your boiler control needs.
    If you are not sure if you have rebuilt ( used) flame safeguard controls I feel that the Smyers Company just like Stromquist & Company in Georgia or Florida would be glad to do a site survey to make sure you have have the most current flame safeguard controls that are factory authorized

  5. Thanks Donna. I know Federal Corporation not only is an authorized distributor of flame safeguard controls but you guys also handle boilers including Hurst Boilers, Peerless boilers, as well as several other boiler control lines in Oklahoma. I am curious as the boiler experts in Oklahoma if the boiler manufacturers you represent have weight in on how they would feel about rebuilt ( used) flame safeguard controls being used on their boilers?
    Also, as an authorized flame safeguard stocking distributor of flame safety controls does Federal offer on site surveys if customers in the Oklahoma area are concerned that they might have illegal rebuilt flame safeguard controls on their boilers?

  6. Check out Fireye’s position on rebuilt ( used) flame safeguard controls. LIke Honeywell they do not authorize anyone else to rebuild their Flame safeguard controls.
    Here is a quote from the above link:
    “Currently, there are several other companies selling “rebuilt” or “reconditioned con-
    trols. None of these companies have an approval from any nationally recognized testing
    agency. What this means is the following:
    1. Fireye assumes no liability for any incident resulting from the use of a rebuilt
    2. Your insurance coverage should be reviewed if you use rebuilt controls.
    3. The use of safety controls rebuilt by any party other than the original manufacturer
    is in violation of ASME, CSD-1 standard.
    4. Use of rebuilt controls is in violation of National Fire Protection Agency Associa-

  7. I totally agree. Not only are they dangerous and apparently illegal ( did not know this) but they are also a bad business decision. Since a rebuilt control only has the part that is broken fixed they tend to break more often, so instead of having to replace a boiler control every five to ten years you have to replace a rebuilt flame safeguard control every year or so. This is the main reason we stopped using them they break down more than new controls.

  8. It is a comfort to know that when safety is enforced you can drive,walk, or live by a place with a boiler installed and not be concerned.

  9. Jim, we are doing our best to keep the public AWARE of the possible hazzards allowed not only by service people after a buck but end users to do not care or are un-aware.

  10. Hi Eric and Bill,
    Great article and interview regarding rebuilt safety controls! Minnesota is a CSD-1 state but like most states lack the resources to fully inspect every boiler and burner. Many institutions’ managorial people may not know if their repair personnal are using rebuilt controls.These institutions may include; schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other public and private buildings.
    In an effort to save money, are they risking the safety of children, the elderly and anyone else that may work or simply be in the building.
    Eric, thanks for keeping this topic in the news.

  11. Thank you…What is amazing to me is the amount of boiler contractors that still buy rebuilt controls for thier clients because they are afraid of loosing the sale to the rebuilders. We will keep the fires burning….

  12. Jim, Thank you for your comments and insights. Knowing the history of Minvalco as the go to source in the burner boiler and flame safety domains of the HVAC controls business in Minnesota your comments mean even more. Minvalco’s reputation as a leader known for exceptional service and unparalleled quality has been known longer than the thirty years I have been in the HVAC controls business.

    Given the fact that you the authorized source for Honeywell Flame safeguard controls in Minnesota but also the largest Maxitrol distributor in the country as well as the Minnesota premier Bell & Gossett stocking distributor Minvalco is more than qualified to speak as experts on Honeywell as well as other brands of Flame safeguard controls.

    As the local experts in Minnesota on Flame safety controls, Maxitrol gas pressure regulators, Acso valves and Bell & Gossett my question is does Minvalco offer on site surveys at facilities that might be concerned that they have purchased illegal ,used, rebuilt controls in the Minnesota area?

    I feel sure that Jim and his team of HVAC control pros do offer on site surveys to make sure that the boilers in Minnesota meet CSD-1 and are safe.

    Check out Minvalco at if you are in Minnesota Minvalco is who you should be buying your HVAC controls from.

    Jim thanks again for your input.

  13. What “…recently updated FM standard allows independent rebuilding or repair of controls with the requirement to meet OEM standards.”?

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