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Effective Subrogation in Investigating House Fires


When a house fire occurs it can be daunting for an insurance company as they pay out for the homeowner and then try to recover the cost based on a product or installation defect. CED Investigative Technologies has investigated many fires where the insurance company seeking subrogation was searching for cause and origin.

CED was recently retained to investigate a gas explosion that was responsible for the total destruction of a newly constructed home. The natural gas supplied to this home fueled three appliances in close proximity. The gas was connected to the hot water heater and the furnace in the basement which were both electrically ignited for the gas to

start. The third unit was a gas fireplace with a standing pilot light on the first floor which was the suspected origin for the fire.

After being contacted by the carrier, the CED expert immediately traveled to the scene of the explosion. After conducting his examination and documenting the scene, the engineer removed all three of the components and the gas supply line, allowing destruction of the remaining structure to proceed while maintaining the evidence for more detailed analysis. At the CED laboratory, the engineer closely examined all of components of the gas system and arrived at a surprising discovery. The plumber who installed the gas hot water heater used a metal thread protector to connect two pieces of the pipe together instead of a pipe coupling. This thread protector failed to seal the pressurized gas line allowing gases to escape and travel to the first floor. The standing pilot in the gas fireplace caused the ignition.

This subrogation was successful because CED found the exact cause of the fire. The insurance company subsequently recovered most of the cost of the home replacement due to the negligence of the company that installed the hot water heater.

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