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Bray oil fume

Hi:

I have an older solar space heat system using Bray oil as the working fluid. (An antifreeze/anti-corrosion water mixture is the storage medium.)  I have a leak somewhere and have noticed a slight "hot engine" odor lately (several months now). Is this the Bray oil or the tank fluid? What is it's health effect? How much should I be worried?  Thanks for considering this.
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Comments

  • BillWBillW Posts: 137Member
    Possible leak in old system

    I am not familiar with the specifics of "Bray Oil", but if your odor smells like an overheated car, I would guess that it contains ethylene glycol and some corrosion inhibitors.  Ethylene glycol is toxic to humans if ingested or inhaled as a aerosol (spray mist).  It is very toxic to cats and dogs. My thoughts are that the corrosion inhibitors have failed, and that a metal fitting somewhere may be leaking, or a pipe or tube may have failed.  I suggest you find the leak, or get a pro in to find it ,and repair it immediately.  Solar systems need routine maintenance, and some of the older systems may have reaching the end of their usefulness. 
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  • BillWBillW Posts: 137Member
    Possible leak in old system

    I am not familiar with the specifics of "Bray Oil", but if your odor smells like an overheated car, I would guess that it contains ethylene glycol and some corrosion inhibitors.  Ethylene glycol is toxic to humans if ingested or inhaled as a aerosol (spray mist).  It is very toxic to cats and dogs. My thoughts are that the corrosion inhibitors have failed, and that a metal fitting somewhere may be leaking, or a pipe or tube may have failed.  I suggest you find the leak, or get a pro in to find it ,and repair it immediately.  Solar systems need routine maintenance, and some of the older systems may have reaching the end of their usefulness. 
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  • memnosinememnosine Posts: 7Member
    Bray oil fume

    I'm not up on Bray oil either, but I do know it's a high temp hydralic fluid -developed for the space shuttle- and I can't identify any particular odor. I've also gazed at the heat transfer tank and smelled nothing, nor have I seen any sheen on it's contents. The heat storage tank is 400 gallons of water with a "corrosion inhibitor" added. The tank is filled with clear green liquid, open to he basement through a pressure release stand pipe. 
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  • BillWBillW Posts: 137Member
    Odor issue with solar heating

    I was going to advise you to post your questions on the "Solar" thread on this website, and I see that you already have.  Possibly you are smelling the fluid you describe as "clear green" like most automotive anti-freeze is, from the atmospheric vent in the basement. There is no sniffer that would detect ethylene glycol, but any lab could tell you what's in that fluid.
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