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A call to arms...

I will raise this issue within my company to include it in our guide specifications under the TAB section, Commissioning and Project Close-Out. We are in MA as is much of our design work. While we cite applicable codes, this seems from so many angles to be a must-do. If not in a code as Ed Wallace pointed out, it should at least be a Best Practice.

Thank you all for making an appropriate fuss about it!

Ever Learning,



  • Wallies...

    We the people, disgruntled by alleged competitors, many of whom haven't the faintest idea when it comes to combustion analysis, must go to the source and request that they make electronic combustion analysis AND reporting MANDATORY upon starting new equipment. If we DEMAND that they take this position in their installation and start up manuals, we WILL see an increase in the amount of CA testing being done, and we will also see a signifcant decrease in senseless deaths due to CO poisoning.

    I ask you to take a few minutes and write your top three heating appliance manufacturers (oil or gas) and ask them to include the following sentence in their START UP procedure manuals.

    "Installing contractor SHALL perform a digital combustion analysis on the appliance at the time of start up, and shall leave a copy of the results of this analysis as a permanent record on the appliance. If the combustion analysis indicates any combustion product is not within the proper range, adjustments shall be made to bring the appliance into conformance with accepted industry standards. Failure to do so shall shall render the warranty on this equipment nul and void"

    Also ask that they append their MAINTENANCE procedures to include the following line.

    "It is recommended that during regular maintenance that a full electronic combustion analysis be performed and the results compared to the results obtained during commisioning of this product. If the results are not within accepted standards, an attempt must be made to adjust, or clean the product to bring it to within accpeted industry standards. In the event that these efforts fail, the appliance shall be rendered un-useable and should be replaced as soon as possible. The results of the analysis should be left with the operating manual as a matter of record."

    I realize enforcement is an issue in certain burgs and burbs, but we have to start some where, and the only thing it will cost the maufacturers to get involved is money for additional paper and ink, and that is worth the price of admission.

    Education is the key, TESTING is the salvation.

    I'm headed out shortly for 7 days on the high seas in the Gulf of Mexico. Houston, Cancun, Roatan, Belize, Cozumel, Houston. Looking forward to doing nothing...

    See you all in 8 or 9 days!

    Happy New Years Wallies!!!

  • J.C.A._3J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981
    I like it !

    I also like your vacation itinerary...The Gulf cruise sounds great right now.

    As to your proposed "legislation", It should already be there. Boiler manufacturers should however, post both exceptable and UNexceptable readings for reference. I can't tell you the number of readings I've gotten, and had to call to find out if they were in the proper range for the appliance.(So many appliances and such limited field training available !)

    Have a great trip Mark. Enjoy your down time and think of us Cold and busy Wallies while having something tropical sounding....Might I suggest a nice bottle of Sausa Hornitos when you pull into Mexico? Great sippin' tequilla! Chris
  • Al Letellier_9Al Letellier_9 Member Posts: 929
    combustion testing

    This is mandatory under Maine State Oil and Solid Fuel Board rules and so is posting the results on the job site anytime a burner is adjusted, cleaned or serviced in any way that effects flame quality. A great idea and a big plus for our industry here, but where's the enforcement? We only have 4 state wide inspectors, and most local areas don't require heating permits, so the problem exists at both ends of the spectrum. I TOTALLY agree with your statement and hope that it becomes reality everywhere. Unfortunately, as in most cases, someone is going to have to get ill or die,or a home will burn, before enough pressure is put on the trades and the enforcers to really do something about it. We as an industry must police ourselves and raise the bar. It takes pride in what you do and a professional approach to our work.
    Thanks Mark for speaking out. Happy New Year.

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  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 14,938
    Another fine idea.

    Thanks, Mark. Have a glorious vacation.
    Retired and loving it.
  • Jim_47Jim_47 Member Posts: 244
    Testing idea

    Mark, cool idea! Problem is, seldom does anyone read the manual.
    How about this, insurance companies should ask for proof that the heating appliances have been cleaned and tested in the last 12 months.
    Funny how people seem to get their car state inspection done to avoid a ticket, but they do not get their boilers inspected.
    Without getting into rates or fees, if it was cleaned and tagged by some company in the last 13 months charge $xxx.00
    If the last time was over 14 months its $xxx.00 x 1.5 = big bucks.
  • S EbelsS Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    Some boiler mfr's

    Some boiler mfr's do ask for a combustion test, (Viessmann) and a lot of them would probably go along with it also. But how does it get enforced? I don't see any answers there. The only poeple who have the power to mandate a combustion test are the ones investing the money. That would be the homeowner and in a round about way, the insurance companies.

    As far a F/A manufacturers go, the big guys in particular, fagedaboudit, it will never happen by their instigation. All they care about is moving numbers. ThermoPride would likely be an exception to this general statement.
  • Mark I applaud your recommendation

    I annually send a very similar letter to over 150 manufacturers and have been doing so for 8 years. I also send proposals on offical document required by various agencies designed for recommended changes to codes. Very interesting I have had two actually respond to my letters in eight years.

    Perhaps a mass mailing would have more impact.
  • S EbelsS Ebels Member Posts: 2,322
    Don't you find it interesting................

    Or maybe strange is a better word. At any rate, have you noticed that there are NO, NADA, NYET, NOT ONE manufacturer chiming in on any of the posts regarding CO. Only when their product is specifically named do we hear a response, which is typically "call the factory". Nothing said about backing a national testing standard for combustion appliances. Maybe they all think we are making a mountain out of a molehill, or the proverbial tempest in a teapot. Or worse, that we don't know what we are talking about.

    Rather depressing.
  • Steve

    I have responded to posts such as the one you just made before. We strongly advise performing a complete combustion test. I have attended one of Jim Davis's 2 day courses and found it quite enlightening. Although I don't agree with all of his methods such as removing a draft hood and installing a dual acting barometric, I do agree with what he is trying to accomplish along with some other very good people in the industry. CO is a touchy issue when it comes down to the manufacturer. We abide by very stringent testing and certification procedures. Our equipment tests at levels far below the industry standards. The key to the equipment remaining at this operating level involves proper installation, proper ventng, proper combustion air, proper service and cleaning and proper gas levels. We advise that it is far more important to find out what issue is causing the CO production and to correct it. Modification of a certified appliance becomes a liability issue for the person doing the modification. Investigate to find out what is causing the problem. It is next to impossible to make an appliance bulletproof to installation issues. Heck, we've even discovered boilers that were installed sideways in the field! That one didn't even set off the CO detector!

    I had the opportunity to pay a visit to a jobsite 2 months ago on the North Shore of the Boston area whereby a CO detector kept going off in an apartment building. They were blaming one of our Power Vented Natural Gas Steam Boilers that had been installed by a very reputable installer. The old chimney was unlined and he felt that a power vented steamer was a good alternative. There was also an existing 75 gallon gas water heater that remained connected to the chimney.

    The CO detector had brought in the Fire Company on three occasions in as many weeks because the boiler room detector and smoke alarms are wired into the station. On all three occasions one of the tenants also stated that the basement was full of smoke. We went there with the installer and the Gas Utility and ran both appliances individually and then together. We tested everywhere for CO and found none. All of the gas pressure settings were dead on with no deviation at all. We did find an open dryer vent termination through to the outside in proximity to a neighbors driveway. We went as far as to park a car with the engine running to see if the operating equipment might have been drawing in the car engine exhaust. Still nothing!

    Having exhausted every possibility we felt that a possible lack of combustion air may have been the culprit because it only seemed to happen on colder nights and at about 7 to 8 pm when it did happened; assumably when the tenants were showering along with the boiler running. While walking around the basement looking at sagging steam pipes and other things that may have been causing some hammer that the building owner had been hearing with the steam system, I found the real problem. I happened to notice an 1-1/2" PVC drain line that was sagging and was laying on top of the lateral vent connector for the 75 gallon water heater. Upon lifting it up I noticed that the bottom had been charred right through the wall thickness of the PVC. Turns out that the gasses being given off from that PVC melting were what was causing the problem and of course the smoke as well. Goes to show that all sorts of things can happen out there but most of it is from external causes.

    Glenn Stanton

    Manager of Training

    Burnham Hydronics

    U.S. Boiler Co., Inc.
  • S EbelsS Ebels Member Posts: 2,322

    I realize you guys (manufactuers as a group) are quick to respond to a specific incident such as the one you detailed and that is not only comendable, but also as it should be. The last half of my post is the issue I was really trying to point out. What are we as tech's and installers supposed to think when we don't see fuel burning appliance manufactuers clamoring for some type of a mandate to test? Is this not an issue of concern for all manufacturers?

    I realize well the amount of effort required to change decades of bad or non-existent habits. There is a huge amount of stationary inertia out here in the field but something, someone, or some group has to get the ball rolling.

    I have to say that the insurance companies are silent on the issue from what I can see also. It would seem to me that they would have a vested interest in the safety of any and all installations of fuel burning equipment. Maybe a consortium (sic) of manufacturers and insurance companies would have enough clout to shake things up and get the ball rolling. Think of that as your homework assignment for the first half of 2006 Glenn. (G)
  • Rodney SummersRodney Summers Member Posts: 748

    mark i agree with your post 100% safety first good idea
  • Carbon Monoxide issues

    are a tough sell to insurance companies as there are too many variables and the lawyers for insurance companies can really shoot holes through even the best expert testimony.
    All the passion of the expert witness and presenting what facts that can be proven still does not win many cases. Now let somebody get blown up by the gas and the insurance company for the utility has their checkbook out. The truth more people die from CO than from gas explosions.
  • Glen..

    Thank you for your response. Is is refreshing tosee ONE of th emajor manufacturers who frequent this board making SOME comment.

    I suspect thaat the REAL reason for lack of input from the manufacturers side is the potential litigation liability associated with the production of CO and related illness/death. I don't know how you guys do it, I really don't.

    Off the record, what would it take for your comapny to consider changing it's I&O manual to include mandatory testing upon start up, and posting of those results prior to getting the final sign off by the AHJ?

    Hope you're feeling better.

    Other manufacturers care to step up to the pump and give some input?

  • mark  smithmark smith Member Posts: 112

    C'mon, Mark ...

    who reads the manual ..??
  • brucewo1bbrucewo1b Member Posts: 638

    Some of us that don't know everyting yet even after 30 years

  • Rookie_3Rookie_3 Member Posts: 244

    There is a lot of print telling you equipment needs to have a combustion test done by a qualified technician and as Al said Maine as well as my state (MA) require a combustion test with a tag anytime anything is done that effects the flame. Mark is 100% correct with his concerns but lets try enforcing existing laws, feel good laws don't change anything. You still have states such as N.H. that don't even require a license let alone mandatory digital testing.
    Glad to see you back Glenn

  • S EbelsS Ebels Member Posts: 2,322

    What about homeowner installs? I'd guess less than 10% of combustion appliances installed in Michigan ever get sniffed by licensed installers. Now let's add in all the homewners who go to the local supply house, pick up a furnace or even a boiler and put it in themselves.
    So what if it says commissioning without a combustion test voids the warranty. How the heck is a manufacturer going to know if it was done or not when they see a smoked part come into their warranty processing center? Are they going to call up Joe HO and ask him what the numbers were?

    I don't see much action or any fruitful results in that direction unless a whole 'nuther layer of "buecrockory" is added to "police" all installations. True, many states require a mechanical permit but when Joe Whoever can just go in, buy an appliance and stick it in under the radar..............well, you get the drift.

    The only way it would work is if there were consequences for the "crime" and a paper trail that could and would tie the installer to a particular appliance.
  • Rookie were is the requirement

    found for combustion testing in Mass? If it is required why do very few ever do any testing of any kind in Mass that is unless it is oil.

    There is very little testing that I know of in Mass on LP or natural gas equipment. I need to be enlightened for what part of the code states this requirement.

    By the way you do not need a liscense in Mass to service gas equipment. The gas fitter liscense is for installation only (piping and venting) no requirement for service.
  • ed wallaceed wallace Member Posts: 1,613
    testing in ma.

    is only required when installing a new oil heat fired unit nothing in the code book on testing gas systems i have talked to oil guys who tell me burners are factory tested no need to adjust air on new installs

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  • John RuhnkeJohn Ruhnke Member Posts: 880
    I agree but not enough..........


    I agree. I just would like to add that maybe it is not enough. The building mechanical codes should be changed so as to add Combustion analysis with a computerized analyser at installation and regular introvals.


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    I am the walking Deadman
    Hydronics Designer
    Hydronics is the most comfortable and energy efficient HVAC system.
  • Dave Yates (PAH)Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    If only......

    All home inspection agencies required their agents perform a combustion test and CO check.....

    All manufacturers did as you've suggested......

    All building inspectors included this as a routine part of mechanical inspections - after they themselves demonstrated personal proficiency and passed a test themselves.......

    Notice was posted at the big box DIY centers - both where the equipment resides and at the registers - explaining the importance of having a professional test performed following their stab at the mechanical trades.....

    The news media would pick up on this issue and promote safety.... How's Sat morn with Campbell Brown sound? I'll volunteer(G).

    If national columnists who bloviate would bloviate on this issue....

    Speaking of massive bloviation.... Instead of another so-called confirmation hearing, how bout the loud-mouths in DC use their air-time to hit this issue rather than grandstanding.....

    OK, so how can we make change happen?

    Write our legislators?

    Write to code officials?

    Maybe, but here at the grass roots where the fertilizer gets dumped in thick layers (at times), we can spread the word to fellow craftsfolk and continue building towards more responsible conduct. AKA - lead by example.....

    We use our testing as a sales tool. In educating consumers about testing, they then inadvertantly take up the cause by asking the other bidders if they're testing! Lose enough bids on this one issue & I expect my compettitors to get mighty interested about testing. Teach your compettitors - teach a class at a local vo-tech school, where the next generation is being taught from books that are outdated or in conjunction with a local supplier at one of their annual dog & pony shows......

    And yes, I'd like to see mfgrs include this on page #1 of their literature, or better yet, on a tag that is to be removed by only the HO. Or even better yet, one of those non-removable mylar decals - right on the front of the unit - indicating not just that the equipment must be tested on installation and annually, but what its target numbers should be so that the consumer has some idea of what the technician's printed analysis should look like.....

    That way, we could drive at both ends from the grass roots and consumer ends. Even Congress would get that message! T'would be a real hoot to hear during a campaign that "Congressman so&so doesn't deserve your vote because he did not vote to pass the mandatory combustion analysis bill!".......

    If every writer in all of the trade mags were to pick one month - say targeting next September when heating is on everyone's agenda - and target this issue in their own words, we could raise a few eyebrows......

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  • LeoLeo Member Posts: 767
    Only as good as the tech

    In Mass a test is required and the results have to be written on the permit for a new oil install. I am friends with the fire insp in my town who does oil burner inspections. I warned him that some companies don't test and I showed him where to look for the test hole. I also warned him of the xyz company that is known to cut corners and hardly tests. With in two weeks he caught them. I don't care how many laws we have hacks will still be hacks.

  • Mitch_6Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    Testing of gas appliances in Massachusetts

    is required under the gas code requiring equipment be installed by manufacturers instructions. Boilers such as the Weil Mclain Ultra have testing peramitors for flue gasses (although state contact the mfg for adjustments if needed)(I have never had an inspector check for this, few even want to see a chimney sweep report)

    As a side note I see lots of oil boiler smoke pipe with no hole but a tag with basic readings written on it.

    I test all my boilers on install gas and oil, just Thursday had a boiler with 12" wc nat on the inlet, dropped to 2.3"wc on start up did not even bother checking the outlet. Just to confirm put my analizer on and found o2 11.3% "under fired".

    Called the gas co they replaced the regulator at the service and also found the vent from the regulator cut off at the sill. Twice this season we have found vents this way could have had 60 psi going into the house. One with the regulator vent from a propane system right next to the fan in the can inlet hood.

    The gas company had just changed the meter a couple of months ago. Did not check the vent and did not clock the meter that may had shown restricted flow.

    Check everything don't trust anything or anyone on face value. Hope you don't miss anything that might hurt someone or get you sued. From what I have seen in the field no mater how careful we are the odds are not in our favor.

    Mitch S.
  • Cosmo_3Cosmo_3 Member Posts: 845
    One more step

    In addition to adding to the I & O about the digital analyzer readings, why can't the Gov require that all Equipment I & O manuals have in plain writing what ranges of co2, excess air, NO, etc the particular piece of equipment should be reading. I know that I know by my experiance what to look for and how to interpret, however I think that having these in the I & O manual would be very beneficial to a service tech who knows how to do his job and use his analyzer, but may not know that for example Energy Kinetics boilers should be set up for 10.5% CO2, etc.

    Just my opinion

    Cosmo Valavanis

    Dependable P.H.C. Inc.
  • Rookie_3Rookie_3 Member Posts: 244

    "I ask you to take a few minutes and write your top three heating appliance manufacturers (oil or gas) and ask them to include the following sentence in their START UP procedure manuals."

    Tim, you must have missed the above line in Marks post. I was talking about OIL.......ROOKIE
  • Cosmo_3Cosmo_3 Member Posts: 845
    How about

    Just was thinking, how about a metal tag like the one that Dept of L & I issues for a commercial boiler install.

    Upon commisioning the metal tag would somehow indicate that the equipment was tested w/ electronic analyzer, and include first readings, as well as installer info. in addition to state seal and cert #.

    Cosmo Valavanis

    Dependable P.H.C. Inc.
  • Anna CondaAnna Conda Member Posts: 122

    > I suspect

    > thaat the REAL reason for lack of input from the

    > manufacturers side is the potential litigation

    > liability associated with the production of CO

    > and related illness/death. I don't know how you

    > guys do it, I really don't.


    One would think that would be incentive, wouldn't it. If the manufacturer requires testing after install, then if there is a CO event post-install, the installer can provide proof of proper function. Protect two birds with one stone, both manufacturer and installer. A genuine win-win situation.
  • ed wallaceed wallace Member Posts: 1,613
    testing gas appliances in ma

    when was the last time any installers in ma saw a test hole drilled in a flue pipe on a gas system? i do not know any plumbers who own effeincy testers

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  • Mitch_6Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    Dear Ed

    Master plumber in Massachusetts
    Plus 3 additional state licenses.
    Took the NCI course
    About to take Tim's course
    own a digital manometer
    own a TSI 630 combustion analizer
    Use it on all installs oil & gas
    Drill two holes one for draft one for flue gas & stack temp

    Now you know a plumber in mass that tests.

    Mitch S.

    P.s. I can say the same about allot of oil installs I see with no drill holes and bogus numbers and its the law to test them.
  • ed wallaceed wallace Member Posts: 1,613

    you are the exception to most plumbers that i know in ma.glad to know there is one plumber who does effiency testing

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  • Steamhead (in transit)Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    Ed, I don't know about Mass....

    but there are some test holes on gas boilers in Maryland...... the ones I've worked on!

    I'll pass this along to some reps I know, who might be able to throw some weight behind this.....

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