Author Topic: Has your furnace been checked???  (Read 797 times)

Offline John Ulrich

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Has your furnace been checked???
« on: December 10, 2018, 08:14:27 PM »
Almost lost my sister last week.  She sold her home and the buyers had their friend, a furnace guy, stop over to eyeball it for a new one.   His meter spiked in the basement and the main floor was in the danger zone.   This explained why my sister had unexplained headaches and sickness for the last week.  The heat exchanger had split.

This is the second close call.  My best friend wokeup ill and dragged his unconscious wife out of the house.....same thing cracked heat exchanger.
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Offline guzzinka

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 08:39:48 PM »
This is why carbon monoxide detectors are so important, I'm always surprised how many people's homes I'm working on either don't have them at all or they're disabled because the batteries ran down.  I'm glad your sister found the leak before it was too late ...
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 08:43:37 PM by guzzinka »


Online Lannis

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2018, 08:48:25 PM »
That was a close one!

And that's why no automatic fire-making machines in my house.   Two heat pumps and a manual wood stove.

I remember the "whoomph" that would sometimes happen when our old oil burner where I grew up came on, and oil sprayed a bit before the ignitor went.   Cured me of those things.

CO detector coming up, I assume ....

Lannis
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Offline giusto

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2018, 09:31:10 PM »


"And that's why no automatic fire-making machines in my house.   Two heat pumps and a manual wood stove."


Yes very good point....ours is out in a separate garage structure...there are too many other things out to get us

Glad your sister is ok John
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Offline xackley

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2018, 09:39:48 PM »
Better choice: Plugin and battery backup.
https://www.amazon.com/Nighthawk-Operated-Monoxide-Digital-KN-COPP-3/dp/B00002N86A/ref=sr_1_5?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1544499056&sr=1-5&keywords=co+detector

Good:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07D6TSPBD/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1

Both have digital read outs and store last peek readings.

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Offline John Ulrich

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2018, 11:25:17 PM »
I forgot to add that she had an alarm in the bedroom that never went off....... But you need one by the source.....the furnace!
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Online JohninVT

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 04:50:13 AM »
I test furnaces all the time(it's a small part of my job).  There should ALWAYS be a CO detector near any combustion device.  While a cracked heat exchanger is certainly a danger to the occupants, I often see higher ambient CO readings from a propane/gas oven that needs cleaning than I do a furnace with a cracked heat exchanger.

-Never install an unvented heater in your house.  Not ever. 
-Always place a CO detector near any combustion device(furnace, boiler, gas/propane heater, oven, fireplace, etc)
-Service all oil/kerosene combustion devices once a year.  Propane/NG should be serviced every 18 months.
-Insist on the service tech placing a hang tag over your furnace/boiler with the combustion gas readings.  This is the only way to track the combustion gas mix over time.  It helps determine the overall health and efficiency of your system and provides a record for the next tech if you change service providers.
-Keep your oven and burners clean.  Always run the range hood when cooking.         

Online Perazzimx14

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 05:25:48 AM »
Heat pumps pose electrical risks, wood stoves pose  risks (probably some of the highest), boilers, furnaces, fire places, gas logs, kerosene heaters, solar w/ battery back up the sun, all pose risks.

If you are using a heat source to heat you home there is a risk. Death/injury from fire, carbon monoxide, electrical shock can all happen forutunately it happens a very small infrequently.


 


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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 06:59:04 AM »
This is a timely thread

This time next week our plumber is installing a Combi-boiler that will be in a cupboard in one of the bedrooms

I think a CO2 alarm in the room will be VERY prudent

Cheers John
« Last Edit: December 14, 2018, 01:57:42 AM by tris »
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Offline Mike Tashjian

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 07:09:44 AM »
Hot water heaters that are gas or oil fired are common and can be an issue too.  Let's not forget that properly installed equipment can be adversely affected by window openings, wind and other devices operating in a house.  Something like running a dryer vented to the outside can cause draft issues for other appliances in a tight house. Checking the draft while running different combinations of appliances would be good but may not cover every situation that may occur.  The use smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors well placed can save you and your family.  Mike

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 08:58:24 AM »
Always run the range hood when cooking.       

I have had an electric range for years, with a "hood" over it that I never use.   I was thinking of putting a gas cooktop out in the middle of the room, but hadn't thought of putting a hood over it, because I've never used it and have never had any sort of problem.   What's the safety purpose of a hood?   I imagine that most people use it to minimize cooking odors and such, but that's never been a problem .... ?

Lannis
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Offline slowmover

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 09:47:40 AM »
The guy just left.I get an inspection every year.Says the bearings sound loud on the motor and to keep an ear on it.It doesn't cost that much for the peace of mind.

Offline screamday

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2018, 09:50:54 AM »
I have had an electric range for years, with a "hood" over it that I never use.   I was thinking of putting a gas cooktop out in the middle of the room, but hadn't thought of putting a hood over it, because I've never used it and have never had any sort of problem.   What's the safety purpose of a hood?   I imagine that most people use it to minimize cooking odors and such, but that's never been a problem .... ?

Lannis

Never use my range hood either (built in to the bottom of the microwave)......mainly because it doesn't vent to the outside, just returns the air to the kitchen. It does go on automatically when we use the oven/broiler to take heat off the microwave which is above the oven.
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Online Perazzimx14

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2018, 09:52:53 AM »
I have had an electric range for years, with a "hood" over it that I never use.   I was thinking of putting a gas cooktop out in the middle of the room, but hadn't thought of putting a hood over it, because I've never used it and have never had any sort of problem.   What's the safety purpose of a hood?   I imagine that most people use it to minimize cooking odors and such, but that's never been a problem .... ?

Lannis

If it exhausts to the outside they can carry away combustion byproducts as well as odors and or smoke produced  from cooking. If it like mine that exhausts right back into the room with a filter that 2B stones could travel through unimpacted I use the light fixture portion of the fan/light combo and the fan sits dormant.

Offline Wayne Orwig

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2018, 09:59:50 AM »
On a slightly different subject.
I had a major propane leak in my camper. The back side of the microware wore a large hole in the propane pipe. The detector never went off.
That is when I found out the propane leak detectors have a very short life, and pushing the test button and hearing it beep means nothing. You have to replace them on a schedule.
Don't rely on detectors.
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Offline Kiwi_Roy

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2018, 10:10:27 AM »
Our apartment is heated by a natural gas fireplace (flame behind glass), as far as I know it has no heat exchanger although it has a fan that cuts in after a few minutes so I guess it's blowing air around the fire-box.

It get's inspected every year but I'm never home when the inspector calls.
What is the danger of these producing CO?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 10:20:00 AM by Kiwi_Roy »
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Online Perazzimx14

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2018, 10:35:08 AM »
Our apartment is heated by a natural gas fireplace (flame behind glass), as far as I know it has no heat exchanger although it has a fan that cuts in after a few minutes so I guess it's blowing air around the fire-box.

It get's inspected every year but I'm never home when the inspector calls.
What is the danger of these producing CO?

100% chance it produces carbon monoxide. Its a byproduct of combustion and cannot be avoided.

Offline xackley

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2018, 10:51:03 AM »
Our apartment is heated by a natural gas fireplace (flame behind glass), as far as I know it has no heat exchanger although it has a fan that cuts in after a few minutes so I guess it's blowing air around the fire-box.

It get's inspected every year but I'm never home when the inspector calls.
What is the danger of these producing CO?

If it burns a beautiful blue, it is clean. Any yellow or black soot raises the possibility of CO. You need a carbon monoxide detector  no matter what.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 11:16:47 AM by xackley »
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Offline John Croucher

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2018, 11:03:15 AM »
I bought a coin operate laundry business 16 years ago.  For months, I would leave out feeling light head, sleepy, unable to walk, drive, symptoms of a heart attack.  My wife and I discussed the symptoms and passed it off as  working to hard.  I had 3 businesses going at once.  One night,  I staggered out of the building to fresh air and 5 degree F temperature trying to sober up and feeling like I was going to pass out.  I knew if I done so in the building, no one would find me and the fire station was directly across the street.  2 hours later, I finally made the 4 mile drive home.  Several other days of unknown exposure and My Wife and I decided to hit the E.R.  The E.R. checked me out for heart issues only.  No carbon monoxide exposure.  Told me there was nothing wrong with me, go do stress testing.  A few weeks later, I spoke with my Brother the HVAC guy.  He suggested carbon monoxide poisoning.  We met at the laundry with a tester.  It went of as soon as the front door was entered.  Lucky no one ever died in the building. The problem was, in the utility room "was" an open flame boiler with a large air gap on the exhaust vent system.  When the clothes dryers were turned on, the make up air would be pulled in through the boiler exhaust vent system and through the building.  The more dryer units turned on, the greater the back flow of carbon monoxide.  I immediately turned off the boiler unit and proceeded to dismantle and remove from the building.  Replaced it with a 99% efficient unit that reduced the gas usage and had a forced air discharge system that would not back flow.  Lucky I am alive today.  The long term affects of the carbon monoxide poisoning are unknown.  I avoid it as much as possible now.   

Offline John Croucher

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2018, 11:11:21 AM »
Hot water heaters that are gas or oil fired are common and can be an issue too.  Let's not forget that properly installed equipment can be adversely affected by window openings, wind and other devices operating in a house.  Something like running a dryer vented to the outside can cause draft issues for other appliances in a tight house. Checking the draft while running different combinations of appliances would be good but may not cover every situation that may occur.  The use smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors well placed can save you and your family.  Mike

This is a very important point, back flow of combustion.  This is what nearly killed me several times over a several month period. 

My neurologist said that dementia and Alzheimer appears more in patience that lived in homes with gas appliances and worked in high carbon monoxide environments.  Specifically saying working with gas stove in homes and restaurants where the smell of burnt gas is covered by the cooking food.   

Offline larrys

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2018, 02:56:59 PM »
It has been in my experience that propane and natural gas appliances are the biggest culprits for generating CO. If your oil boiler or furnace misbehaves, you'll see soot flying around before the CO count gets too high. A gas water heater or boiler or furnace will run fine with a clogged flue, venting all the CO laden combustion gases through a building.
We had a fatal in a town I worked in, three dead, two almost died from an old propane floor furnace that the flue had clogged.
I have a oil fired boiler. I clean it and tune it myself every two years. Thirty years and counting...
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« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 02:58:24 PM by larrys »
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Offline Kiwi_Roy

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2018, 06:33:46 PM »
100% chance it produces carbon monoxide. Its a byproduct of combustion and cannot be avoided.

If it burns a beautiful blue, it is clean. Any yellow or black soot raises the possibility of CO. You need a carbon monoxide detector  no matter what.

Right Gentlemen, I will get one ASAP

Thank-you John for raising the subject
Actually we have been trying to upgrade our system for the past couple of months, visiting all the showrooms
Because we are in a strata we have to jump through some hoops and the sales people seem confused as to what we need
It seems as though we have very limited options, something about a B vent
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 06:43:14 PM by Kiwi_Roy »
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Online JohninVT

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2018, 06:41:40 PM »
It has been in my experience that propane and natural gas appliances are the biggest culprits for generating CO. If your oil boiler or furnace misbehaves, you'll see soot flying around before the CO count gets too high. A gas water heater or boiler or furnace will run fine with a clogged flue, venting all the CO laden combustion gases through a building.
We had a fatal in a town I worked in, three dead, two almost died from an old propane floor furnace that the flue had clogged.
I have a oil fired boiler. I clean it and tune it myself every two years. Thirty years and counting...
Larry

Not necessarily.  The heat exchanger in a furnace or boiler can't be seen without tearing into the unit.  Soot isn't a good indicator as it could just be a nozzle that's too big or the controller is spraying oil too soon.  Many times the only sign of trouble is when the O2 spikes for a few seconds on a Bacharach during testing.  New propane/NG appliances are almost always Category III or IV and have sealed combustion.  They are the absolute safest combustion devices in your home.  Their draft is unaffected by venting devices like dryers, bath fans and range hoods. 

To answer Lannis's question, ovens and ranges can produce CO nearly as high as a furnace.  I've seen 400ppm from an oven and over 100ppm from a single cooktop burner many times.  If you have a propane or NG oven/range it should have a hood and the hood should be vented to the outside.  You're lighting a fire in your house and cooking over it.  You should always provide a route for combustion gases to be vented to the outside.   

Offline Mike Tashjian

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2018, 08:34:46 AM »
Gas fired heaters are either vent free or vented.  Vent free means the combustion is happening with the air in the heaters space and all heat and byproducts produced stays in the space.  This type usually has a a oxygen depletion sensor that will shut the unit down if the room air goes below a certain Oxygen level.  It does not monitor air quality or factor in the excess moisture that is produced from the burning fuel.  The direct vent style uses outside air and vents combustion gases back outside.  This style uses no air from inside and can have efficiencies at 80% or slightly higher depending on length of vent pipes.  Vented heaters can also use inside the space air for combustion and still vent outside. Some will have a dedicated vent from outside to supplement combustion air usually near the air inlets of the unit.  If you are using a unit for actually heating your space the vented style is by far the best option and your air quality should not suffer from using it.   Another point made about range hoods. Most that do not vent outside still serve to help filter grease and odors from the cooking area and if large enough can provide some fire resistance to a stove fire.   Mike

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2018, 10:15:21 AM »

To answer Lannis's question, ovens and ranges can produce CO nearly as high as a furnace.  I've seen 400ppm from an oven and over 100ppm from a single cooktop burner many times.  If you have a propane or NG oven/range it should have a hood and the hood should be vented to the outside.  You're lighting a fire in your house and cooking over it.  You should always provide a route for combustion gases to be vented to the outside.   

Yup, decision time.   My potentially mitigating factors are (1) Just a cooktop, the oven's staying electric (2) State code here doesn't require a hood for a cooktop, even in new construction (3) It's a big, open-plan kitchen with good ventilation (we also have a woodstove in here).   

Thanks for the numbers an' all ... CO monitors which read out the PPM level are cheap, I'll get one and install it now and get a baseline ....

Lannis
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Offline egschade

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2018, 06:52:32 AM »
As others have said, thanks John for an important reminder  :bow: I just checked my CO monitors and both had dead batteries  :shocked: Decided to get new units with a display so I can monitor levels.
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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2018, 10:13:51 AM »
Gas fired heaters are either vent free or vented.  Vent free means the combustion is happening with the air in the heaters space and all heat and byproducts produced stays in the space.  This type usually has a a oxygen depletion sensor that will shut the unit down if the room air goes below a certain Oxygen level.  It does not monitor air quality or factor in the excess moisture that is produced from the burning fuel.  The direct vent style uses outside air and vents combustion gases back outside.  This style uses no air from inside and can have efficiencies at 80% or slightly higher depending on length of vent pipes.  Vented heaters can also use inside the space air for combustion and still vent outside. Some will have a dedicated vent from outside to supplement combustion air usually near the air inlets of the unit.  If you are using a unit for actually heating your space the vented style is by far the best option and your air quality should not suffer from using it.   

Now that's interesting.  We're also looking at a gas heater ("gas logs") to be installed in a wood fireplace.   I was sure that the heating company would recommend a vented unit, since the chimney is already there.   But the gal who came out to make the estimate said the opposite - that a ventless unit would provide much higher heating efficiency, and that a vented unit would barely heat the room at all, and highly recommended the ventless unit, even though all the combustion products stay in the house ... ?   Didn't sound right to me, but ... ?

Lannis
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Offline Ronkom

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #27 on: December 14, 2018, 11:01:46 AM »
When I was a kid we lost a family friend to CO poisoning. He was a local mechanic/garage shop owner & the morning of the first real sub-freezing temps of the year in SouthWestern Pa. he was going from one customers garage to the next starting cars. He'd stop & "chew the fat" (staying warm in the garage) for a few  minutes at each stop. Even though he was out in the open air after each stop the CO built up in his blood. He was found dead in his truck which had rolled off the road into a ditch.  Bummer, left a widow & several orphans.  Been VERY aware of CO all my life. Had the oil furnace serviced & the chimneys swept this fall.
Would be interested in a hand-held tester that I could use around the house ( we have a propane kitchen range w/an unvented hood), What to buy? where to order?
Ron
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Offline Ronkom

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #28 on: December 14, 2018, 11:12:17 AM »
Lannis,
Several years ago went through the exercise of 'net search to find a glass door fireplace insert gas log setup that is 1. vented, & 2 designed w/a "Heatilator" to blow heat into the room.  No joy...much frustration. Alice has brought the subject up again, so I'll be looking, intend to start at our propane supplier. will let you know if I find anything.
Ron
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Online JohninVT

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Re: Has your furnace been checked???
« Reply #29 on: December 14, 2018, 11:20:50 AM »
Now that's interesting.  We're also looking at a gas heater ("gas logs") to be installed in a wood fireplace.   I was sure that the heating company would recommend a vented unit, since the chimney is already there.   But the gal who came out to make the estimate said the opposite - that a ventless unit would provide much higher heating efficiency, and that a vented unit would barely heat the room at all, and highly recommended the ventless unit, even though all the combustion products stay in the house ... ?   Didn't sound right to me, but ... ?

Lannis

She gave you incorrect information.  Just one of many examples would be a Rinnai.  Itís a Category III vented appliance with models that put out up to 38,000 BTUís.  Most whole house furnaces and boilers are rated between 80 and 140,000BTUís so a Rinnai is powerful and efficient. 

Itís my professional opinion that Unvented heaters arenít safe.  Combustion gases should never be allowed to remain in your living space.  You wouldnít park your car in the living room and let it idle while you sat on the couch watching tv. 

 

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