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Explaining co to home owners

that may have been an old cook-stove designed to burn coal, wood or a combination of either with gas too! Best to pay for a chimney inspection and gauge the size of the flue for what's now connected to ensure its adequately sized for the BTU load before dropping in a liner.

If Tim's willing to visit, he'd have my vote of confidence and be worth whatever he charges. One of the sharpest guys in the business I know.


  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    Explaining co to home owners

    I have been having a hard time explaining the dangers of high co levels.

    A lot of home owners will not let us test as part of the pre season checkups. We do inform them ahead of time if the co is high or unstable we do shut down the equipment. This they do not want to hear since up till then they have had no issues.

    There opinion is if it is all venting up the chimney what is the issue since it has never been an issue before.

    It is true that a boiler vented properly and running at safe levels will change if the draft becomes compromised and carbon dioxide is brought back into the combustion chamber then you will start making more carbon monoxide. In short a safe running piece of equipment becomes unsafe due to a change in conditions.

    Even the unsafe but properly venting equipment is a higher hazard at that time but not effecting anyone since it is properly venting to the outside. If it has always been that way what is the problem?

    So how do you get people to think you are not selling snake oil?

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  • Leo_16
    Leo_16 Member Posts: 37
    This one is difficult

    This one is difficult because you can't even get a lot of techs to be aware of it. Ever mention to installers to be careful on job sites with all those unvented heaters they use. I have been laughed at for mentioning it. It has to start with the professionals before it goes to the nonprofessionals.

  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,035
    personal protection

    You have the right to protect yourself in your work environment. Carry a low level CO monitor on you. If it shows any CO, discuss how you require a work environment free of toxic gases.

    Don't use scare tactics about CO--just stick to the facts. You are there for a full comprehensive annual service or troubleshooting, either of which require testing.

    As for the service, you should have a Standard of Practice delineating all the checklists, tests, and issues you inspect and perform. You cannot have any homeowner hold you hostage. If you fail to inspect or test certain things, it puts YOU at liability. Tell them your service first and foremost incompasses an inspection. That inspection determines if the unit is installed properly, operating properly and there are no issues with durability, corrosion, component failure or damage. You will be held accountable to those stds. should there be an incident so to exclude them is business suicide. Same with performance testing. This tells you if the equipment is operating to spec. or not. If you fail to test and walk out as they want, then something goes wrong, you have no leg to stand on.

    I recommend you assert yourself as a professional trying to deliver the service and care they deserve. If they want to try to tell you how to perform your job, it's time to fire them as customers. Follow it up with a certified letter return receipt stating you have been discharged by this customer, have been refused permission to test and inspect the unit, which is for their safety so you cannot properly inform them of the condition of their unit or any possible hazards and you will not be held liable for their negligence and lack of due diligence as homeowners. Understand you will not get them back as customers and do not want them back. You want to insulate yourself from them. Once cheap charlie walks in and does what they ask, he now owns that unit. Sorry Charlie.

    Never let homeowners extort you.
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549

    I have a Testo personnel alarm one me when I walk in the door. If that reads anything game over.

    Before we arrive at the job we have the home owner review our procedures and sign a waver accepting or rejecting the testing. If not the invoice is marked verbally refused.

    Some important points (gas boilers / furnaces).

    1) At best one in a hundred techs in my area have any testing equipment. They do a quick check for draft mabe check limits and take a rage across the top to make it look clean

    2) There is no law stating that I must test for co in fact there are no formal guidelines for heating systems as there would be for testing plumbing and gas.

    3) I have had several occasions that I did check for co, shut the appliance down just to have other companies of utility employees say hay draft is great fire it up.

    4) The testing equipment itself is relatively new to the trade. For years people have been doing basic service with no testing and incidents of "properly venting" equipment causing any injury is almost non existent. "IF" any appliance regardless of co that develops an issue bringing co or co2 back into combustion and allowing into the residence things will change at that point anyways.

    5) When do you or do you not check combustion. Change a circulator, change a thermocouple, change a thirmostat?

    6) Most equipment still in use does not have any mention in its use or service manuals for testing.

    Our basic pre season call we: Pull apart the smoke pipe check the boiler and flue breach's. Check limits check and if needed clean gas logs, fire box, pilot assembly, check draft and some other equipment specific items. This is more than most techs we see do. At this point testing is optional but it is a hard sell.

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  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981
    I guess.....

    I'm in the minority then....I have been combustion testing equipment on service and installs since I started in 1985....it was, and always has been part of any service.

    CO has been the newest addition, and that was in the very early 90's that it became part of the service. Until then, there were no testers that the company knew of that were available and accurate enough to trust working on oil boilers only. I'm sure there were...but it wasn't spoken of much before then.

    If a customer refuses to let you test for combustion efficiency or CO when doing a service......You're doing a DIS-service and should immediately do an about face before touching ANYTHING! BTW...RUN, don't walk. Chris
  • Jim Davis
    Jim Davis Member Posts: 305

    First thing is you don't warn them of the high levels of CO, you warn them of the low levels of CO. 5-6ppm has a effect on asthma patients. EPA got sued last year for allowing 9ppm outdoors. 27-30ppm causes conjestive heart failure and angina. Long term exposure to low levels of CO can cause Alzheimer's and Parkinson's(Michael J. Fox).

    The industry has a standard that states the maximum CO a heating appliance can produce in the flue gasses in 400ppm. A water heater - 200ppm.

    Most people that are killed or poisoned by CO have had a problem for extended periods of time, not just all of a sudden. Remind people that they might not have died from CO yet but it only happens once!!!

    If you find a flue pipe touching combustibles do we walk away because it hasn't burnt the house down yet? Do people get their brakes fixed after they have an accident?

    Do your customers tell their doctor they don't want a blood test when they get a check-up? or the dentist they don't want X-rays?

    Might want to tell them about contractors that have been charged with negligent homicide because they didn't test.

    Testing wasn't done in the past because the equipment wasn't available to do the testing. This is the 21st century and technology has improved.

    If a customer doesn't want you to do your job, why do you want them as a customer. They won't want to pay for anything. Just had a student confirm 22 Certified Whole House Safety Checks in one day for $179.00 each. Another student just saved a families life. The doctor said they would have died if he hadn't tested.

    Have the customer sign a paper that they refused to allow you to do CO safety testing and that a copy will be given to their insurance company if an incident occurs. This should void their insurance and keep them from coming after you. Well, that is after yoy explain how you let the customer tell you how to do your job.

    Consumerss that don't care about their own lives probably don't care much about ours and would be the first to sue us if anything happened. FIRE YOUR CUSTOMERS!!!!!
  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67
    I am newly co paranoid

    I never gave it much thought until recently. I have a 1950's gas stove that vents into the kitchen. There is a pie plate cover over the chimney vent hole that I'm eyeing suspiciously these days. Shouldn't there be something a bit more substantial behind it? Non-combustible of course.

    I've started searching for old stove vents for the stove. It seems that they don't exist and have to be hand-made or individually manufactured.

    I've had these situations for years and they have never bothered me, as far as I know. But now I have a 6 month old baby who spends a lot of time close to the ground, so I worry more. And I do have asthma since about the age of 30.

    The cats are OK though.

    Anyway, I WANT to know what the co levels are in this house. Yes, it is scary that an appliance could be shut down. But it is scarier to go to sleep and never wake up. this isn't what most of us mean when we say things like "I hope I go in my sleep."

  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578

    CO is lighter than air and ends up on the floor last. With a small child any level of CO in a house is not safe. Find a Certified CO Contractor and have you house checked. They know how to test ovens and everything else.
  • Angela

    you and I keep getting connected up. I am getting ready to have an evening training session in Warren RI for homeowners on gas safety and equipment efficiency. Get in touch with me and I will get your info and let you know when it will be held.

    In the meantime if you have the Gas Doctor come he will check all of those things for you.
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 1,035
    acceptable chimney

    Angela, your stove must vent into a chimney or vent that is suitable for the class of service. Old 'pie plate' covers are not accepteble means of sealing old breechings. What's more, there may be other penetrations higher up. You best bet for the chimney is to have a pro inspect it with a video camera. Ask for a Level II inspection. This is in addition to checking out the stove itself, makeup air, clearances to combustibles, and combustion analysis.
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67
    Cooking stove

    My stove looks like #8:


    It is screaming cool. But it is not a restaurant grade appliance.

    This is a modern cooking stove with safety mechanisms, etc. I have had them checked out before by gas company guys and they have never set off their equipment. Not recently though, and I haven't had them over for Thanksgiving dinner.

    I'll leave my carbon monoxide detector next to it for awhile and see what happens.

    I wanted to try to vent it, because when the big dinners are going on, with both ovens and all 4 burners going, venting would probably be a good idea. But it will not be easily done, I would have to have something fabricated, and it will probably be prohibitively expensive. I looked into it the other day, and didn't get far at all. Nobody vents these.

    In the end, my awareness will probably just lead to opening the window when I'm doing heavy duty cooking.

    The pie plate thing is pretty weak once you understand what it's for. And yet you see them ALL THE TIME. I suppose the appropriate thing is to have a mason brick it up, huh?
  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67

    yes, that's me.

    also me on jacking up a radiator, on a bunch of other threads too. i am a bit of a heatinghelp.com junkie these days. Happens every year right about now (heating season is a comin').
  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67

    Hi Tim,

    I will call you about this. I am interested in attending.

    I had the Gas Doctor here Thursday. Didn't think to have him wave his wand all around though. They did the service on the gas boiler next door. Had to replace a few parts, unfortunately. And I met with the boss about my boiler, that estimate should come on Mon. or Tues.

    I had a great exchange with the service man, Tom. Told him that I wanted to cut in at .5 and set the differential at 1. He said he would set it at some other numbers (I forget which-- I think he wanted to cut in at 1 or 1.5 and set the differential for 2). We went back and forth about it, pleasantly of course, until I mentioned the books and said that Dan H. says to cut-in at .5 and so, right or wrong, I want to try it. That's when I won. He has read Dan's books too! The boss disagreed with the setting but said he should be sure and note it on the service invoice, which he did.

    The final setting was cut-in at .5 and differential at 1.5. So I guess I compromised a little. The system seemed to run great.
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    I ask Jim and Tim and others to check the sticker shock posts.

    If you are this concerned you should get a liner for the boiler and a new stove. There are problems with co money cannot fix.

    Find a person good with financial numbers. Pay an accountant for one or two hours of time. Take the low interest loan info if available to him along with the estimated savings and costs. I do not like to borrow money but in business sometimes a little debt helps you make more than you borrowed.

    Financial stubbornness can be a good thing but sometimes you are needlessly hearting yourself.

    In the mean time get yourself some of Jim Davis's NCI low level alarms or the ones from co experts. Still not a substitute for safe systems.

    What state are you in?

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  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67

    I'm in Rhode Island.

    Look, I'm not THAT concerned. I am just SOMEWHAT concerned. I mean, I just read the information that came with my co alarm. Such pamphlets can freak a person out plenty.

    And there was that thread on ventless fireplaces, which my tenant's have. I like to be a good landlord and not hurt people, so it's got me thinking about all these things...the pie plate vent covers in our kitchens, the ventless fireplace, the unvented gas kitchen stoves, the (apparently) unlined chimney that has a gas boiler, an oil boiler, and two gas water heaters venting into it.

    We all feel fine, I just want to keep it that way. On the other hand, I'm not about to go full scale paranoid and throw my beautiful stove out. Or my beautiful old house, for that matter. if I was that type of person, I'd never have bought a house like this, with all of it's lead and asbestos and leaky imperfections. I would not be proud of my snowman despite its many shortcomings (and I am).

    I do appreciate the professional advice very much though.
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549

    does this stove have a room heater and is it meant to be vented into a chimny. Best for a conventional range is a good vent hood venting to the outside. Cook tops create co especially with a pot impinging the flame.

    Look into low level alarms the box store UL listed are not worth the paper the instructions are written on.

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  • Angela_2
    Angela_2 Member Posts: 67

    it was never meant for heating-- no room heater. I THINK that they were designed to be vented, except that there are chrome vent covers on top, one for each oven. So why a vent cover if the intention was for a steel pipe to go into it?

    so it's not clear. i know that those of us who have these stoves don't vent them. I plan to post an ad to find out if there are exceptions. I just thought of doing it since the chimney and pie plate cover are right there behind it, begging for a gawky hunk of metal. but the salesman at the duct company said they don't make those sort of vents anymore, I would have to squinch and bend it to fit myself, or have something made.
  • World Plumber
    World Plumber Member Posts: 389

    Is the chimney lined. If it's not a lined chimney. It should not have gas appliances venting into it. Either have it lined or install a power venter. If you have oil into it also you need to use the stainless steel linner and the gas should enter above the oil. Best not to mix the two. But you have to work with what you have. Do you have spill switches on the gas appliances?
  • Mitch_6
    Mitch_6 Member Posts: 549
    World Plumber

    See the sticker shock thread and you may get a fuller picture although I do not know if the boiler is on the same chimney she is talking about for the range.

    Better is a good vent hood to cover the cook tops as well.

    We also do not know how old this range is or what shape. If it is anything like the description of the boiler on the other thread it is most likely a co factory.

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  • Angela you are getting a lot of advice

    some correct some not so correct. You are living in an older home which typically may not have a liner in the chimney. If you are planning to install any new equipment into that chimney here in RI it will have to be inspected when the permit is pulled. Depending on the equipment being installed it will need to be lined or perhaps go with side wall vented equipment.

    Your gas cooking stove can not be vented into the chimney as it is a cooking only and does not have a heater. At one time the opening into the chimney with the "pie plate" covering it was for a gas on gas kitchen heater or perhaps even a kerosene heater gas stove combination. Have the hole blocked up by a mason.

    The old snowman with asbestoes will have to be removed by a professional abatement company, my son who owns a costruction company has someone who does that here in RI. It is not cheap by the way.

    I would recommend you get a CO experts carbon monoxide tester if you contact me I will direct you to how to purchase one or two depending on your needs.

    Contact the Gas Doctor to do a CO test on your ovens to insure they are operating correctly. If you have the typical older type kitchen set up we have here in RI a vent hood may be difficult to install. There are some alternatives I can talk to you about.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    how appropriate

    this thread is.

    I just finished replacing a 25 year old gas 80+ furnasty in a condo with a Rinnai tankless/Rinnai hydro air handler. The HX on the old was riddled with cracks, some a foot long.

    Next door condo, lady asks me to service HER identical furnace. I told her that before I did anything, I would remove jackets and check for cracks. She said that last year, "someone" had told her she should think about replacement. I also offered to work a number for something in case, at least a 90+.

    She told me to go away, and never set foot on her property again, I was just trying to sell her a new furnace. BTW this "lady" is a local real estate broker.

    I guess she won. Can't save them all.

  • Agreed

    Tim is the best in the business IMHO. Angie, you're close to the training center- it would be a shame not to attend Tim's homeowner class.

    Dave is also correct about what originally went into the opening where the pie plate is. This is not the place to vent a cooking appliance of your vintage or newer.

    But you DO want to have your stove tested for CO, and any problems corrected. Here's what my experience was:

    When I first got my digital analyzer some years ago, the first thing I tested was the kitchen stove in my house. That old Norge stove was installed for my grandmother in the late 1960s, and she cooked many a great meal on it. As a kid, I got a warm, fuzzy feeling when she was cooking.

    I now remember that warm, fuzzy feeling and realize how lucky I was. That was a symptom of high CO from the stove. The oven was over 1100 PPM (parts-per-million), and the top burners weren't much better. The house was rather drafty at that time so the CO didn't build up like it could have. Note that CO testing as we know it today was unheard-of in the 1960s, so the high CO I found wasn't surprising.

    With some adjustments, I got the CO down to about 20 PPM or so. Grandmother's old Norge continues to serve The Lovely Naoko and I quite well. I test it once in a while to make sure it's still burning properly.

    I later bought a second analyzer so I'd always have one available while the other was in for servicing. That's how convinced I am that testing is mandatory.

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