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black soot all over fins and up the wall and ceiling

tracy jo
tracy jo Member Posts: 2
Help. I just bought a house with a steam heat boiler and the lady was not living there at the time, but when they started up the boiler a black soot like substance is all over the walls where ever there is a finned pipe. what is it? Is there anything I can spray on the finns in order to clean them or do I need to replace them?


  • Al Letellier_9
    Al Letellier_9 Member Posts: 929

    It sounds like you have an issue with the boiler. This is typical soot tracing throughout the house from a boiler that is not running correctly. Cleaning up this mess is a job for a professional. The boiler needs immediate attention and a clean up is a long and involved process best left to the pros. I see a lot of this in my insurance and home inspections business and you should contact your insurance company and/or the realtor if you think you bought the house in this condition. You may have some recourse if the sale was very recent.
  • roger provencher
    roger provencher Member Posts: 14

    Are you sure it is from the boiler and not other sources. are you finding soot in the cellar or boiler room.any odors in the cellar. burning candles in the house, one bad burning candle can soot the whole house and the heating system gets the blame
  • Al Corelli_2
    Al Corelli_2 Member Posts: 395
    One time..

    Went to a house. The lady told me her baseboard (HWBB) was leaking fire onto the walls. Said the "furnaceman" was there and said the "furnace" was OK.

    I ask a couple of questions, and find out that she is a candle collector, and she burns a couple of them each day.

    She would not believe that "just a couple" of candles could make this mess on her walls.

    "Its coming from the baseboards!"

    I slowly backed out of the house.
    Thank you Dan, for teaching me that.

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
    Al Corelli, NY

  • Guy_6
    Guy_6 Member Posts: 450

    I had a similar situation with a friend of mine who is a painter. He called and said that his first floor tenents have soot on the walls, and that his furnace must be gone. I opened a convenient spot in the ductwork and found nothing but light dust. We went up to the apartment where 3 - young ladies lived to investigate further. There are Monastaries with less candles! The cheap ones seem to soot more, leaving traces in the upper corners of the rooms, and on cold spots, outlining roof joists.
    He later asked around his painting buddies, and was soon a believer in what I had told him.
    Many of the candles use aromatic OILS for scent, thus to some degree burning oil with a very weak flame, creating soot just as an old, low speed oil burner did. Not enough heat off the flame for complete combustion. There are cases of exotic birds keeling over from the poor indoor air quality caused by some of these candles.
    That being said, I think that I'll go blow mine out....
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,030
    search this forum's archiives


    This is just one of many postings on this subject. Tons of discussion already done. Just let your fingers do the walking!
  • tracy jo
    tracy jo Member Posts: 2
    black soot

    Thank you for your reply. Next question. I am not sure that she burned candles or not but the black is all over the fins and on the inside of the covers. I didn't notice this when I looked at the house and they told me that is happened when they lit the boiler. My boyfriend pointed out that there was kills and spray paint in the room. He thought that maybe they painted the out side of the base board shields,that they didn't tape off the fins and the over spray burned up causing the the black streaks. We also have a hot water boiler at our other home that we just had hooked up today and I asked him about it and he said that he thought that it would have just been dust that burned up. seems like a lot of black for dust. Any other thoughts? maybe I could send you a picture?
    Thank you
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