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Saving lives???

more than just cleaning is to determine the exact cause which based on the info you have given you have not.

This unit needs to have a determination as to correct input based on the orifice sizes and the pressure along with a combustion test. There is more to this than(error) THAT Mr Davis teaches and if you do not do the entire job you will have the same thing again or worse some one will die. Did you determine that the gas valve shuts off on safety, does the limit shut off the equipment. If this is off a garage is the air contaminated and in fact is there sufficient air for combustion.

Next issue Tim you look terrible no protective gear no mask to keep from breathing in carbon. It is not cancer causing according to research I have done but will cause upper respiratory problems. You need to wear throw away clothing when cleaning equipment and plug all openings into your body including safety googles, ear plugs and insure nose and mouth are protected.

What is the Make, Model and input of this unit and seeing it is on natural gas there must be a meter, did you clock the meter.

What are your combustion readings?

What was the draft before and after the draft hood?

Did you do a pressurization test for the boiler room?

I realize Jim feels a lot of that is foolisheness but I feel it is important unless you have been trained by Jim to understand all that is required from his perspective.


  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    So I am just getting ready to kill a system and swap a candensate tank, and I get a call that the FD was called last night to a 3-plex and a CO detector went off. I am told the FD measured 70ppm right outside a boiler room off od a small garage, and after letting it air out, said the concentration was not enough to necessitate evacuating the building. I get there today, and boiler is on, pilot running. I fire it and am at once nearly overcome with CO, so we let it air out, and pull the hood. (I stopped testing at 1,500ppm in the vent) The HX is totally covered with soot...totally. No passage was open and no air through it. How could anyone with a brain have left that boiler running all night??? Pics to come, I am just home for my pressure washer...Lives could have been lost after the FD came & left. Flame was rolling out on all sides, and it was left in service!!!! (I am ONE BLACK DUDE right now...)

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Firemen are

    not technicians all they understand is UL 2034 many times and no more.
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    Well, here's what I found. I could not see across or through the sections when we got the hood off, and some soot was 1/2" thick. What a mess...sure runs great now...

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    The REAL question is...

    What caused it to carbon up so badly. Under good normal operating conditions, that is NOT a normal consideration.

    Environmental dust?


    Sudden mis-adjustments of gas pressure?

    Negative pressure in the building?

    SOMETHING caused this combustor t go upside down...

    Even professional fire fighters make mistakes, especially to the untrained eye. Hence more need for proper training of the firefighters to recognize a seriously dangerous situation.

    Good on you Timco.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    Boiler room is off a drafty garage. Draft is -.01. GV was changed at some point recently, but press was 3.77, which I adjusted to 3.5 based on the GV lable. Boiler has no manifold press lable. Soot may have been from any time in history, snowball effect? This baby has never been cleaned...pressure washer did a great job.

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,697
    Outstanding work TIMCO

    Look, I just recertified on wed with CAPTAIN CO....the no-holds barred light-heavyweight champ in the industry, JIM DAVIS. Jim would tell ya HISSELF you CAN'T TRUST ANYONE!!!!!!!! to do the right thing in this situation, but YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As prior legal precedent has showed us.....The last CONTRACTOR to see the system is left holding the bag! Superbowl catch. bro. Mad Dog

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  • bill_97
    bill_97 Member Posts: 172
    saving lives

    I was on call for a oil company and had 3 plugged boilers in one night. That was a great night and I knew it was time for a career change
  • Now I see,

    what you meant Tim!
    I`ll repeat Matt`s posting!

  • C`mon Tim,

    "protective gear no mask to keep from breathing in carbon. It is not cancer causing according to research I have done but will cause upper respiratory problems. You need to wear throw away clothing when cleaning equipment and plug all openings into your body including safety goggles, ear plugs and insure nose and mouth are protected."

    How are we to do business if restrained to plastic bubble type work gear? We inhale more carbon daily by stepping out our front door due to car exhaust.
    I feel alot of this is blown-out of proportion now days.

  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    I always use ear protction, but you are right about the resperator. I had one old mask and stopped using it when it got wet. Unit is a Basmor, need to get BTU when I go back to clock meter, which I did not do. Did not take combustion readings because my O2 sensor & calibration gasses are not here yet. Draft is -.01 above hood, did not measure under hood. I always turn on tester outside & walk into boiler room, then close door to do testing. .00 in boiler room. No car is ever parked in garage (too messy) and boiler room is off garage.

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Jim Davis
    Jim Davis Member Posts: 305
    30 years and 50,000 tests is just a perspective?

    First let me say Fireman are number 2 on my stupid CO list. As a group nationwide they help contribute to more repeat CO poisonings and mis-diagnosis second to only one other group of people. Gas companies are Number 1 and continue to be the worst I have found!!!!! Okay there are a few exceptions but they are not on the East coast. Just in the last week a Gas Company said it was okay for a furnace to produce 10,000ppm of CO as long as they didn't measure any in the space while they were there.

    Foolishness is questioning someone who has dedicated 38 years of their life to the HVAC industry.

    Drafthoods were invented for gas companies in the 30's so pilots wouldn't blow out and equipment could still run when the flue gets plugged so utilities could sleep knowing everyone died warm.

    Add to the list Code Officials #3 on the list that enforce unsafe rules that aren't even mechanically logical. Even ASHRAE in the year 2000 stated that Codes do not allow for professional designed systems.

    There is absolutely no truth or complete explanation left out of my training or diagnostic procedures.

    A draft test was taken here along with a gas pressure which provides minimal information other the the draft is low which means the building and the flue are fighting each other. Only combustion testing information can determine the true problem.

    Certainly didn't expect such a poor comment after all this time.
  • TimS
    TimS Member Posts: 82
    wow Tim

    ooohh wooow Tim , I missed out on this mess. It could have been me . I'm glad you answered this call, absolutely you saved lives ! You may get sick I always do. May God bless you . Thank you Most boiler rooms are in the home or basement then I would have read this in the local paper instead of on the wall.
  • Jim Davis as I read your post

    I wondered what you are talking about so I reread the entire posting WOW my "than" should read "that" see correction. Sorry about that amazing how one typo can change the meaning.
  • Jim Davis
    Jim Davis Member Posts: 305

    Mistake and apology accepted, but foolishness still not part of testing procedures.

    It is frustrating and aggravating that 3 groups of people that know little or nothing about equipment operation, how to do thorough CO investigations are considered the experts by the public.

    Now I have a letter from GAMA that states they do not condone the improvement of safety on equipment in the field.

    Sorry Tim, I just needed to blow off some steam. I do appreciate your efforts also.
  • ScottRW
    ScottRW Member Posts: 33
    CO and Firefighters

    Mr. Davis, I write this with all due respect.
    As a firefighter, I feel compelled to comment on your note. I believe the reason that we're so high on your "stupid CO list" is because when things go bad, we're the ones that get the call in the middle of the night. Usually when we get the alarm for a CO check, it's because the homeowner has a CO alarm that won't quit making noise, even though he's tried to reset it several times. This is the positive side of this type of call. We actually get to talk with the homeowner.
    The negative side of this call is a neighbor or family member has gone by to check on someone who didn't show up for work, and all occupants are DOA.

    We enter the residence in question in bunker gear and SCBA with our 4 gas monitor, and check CO. Typically, we advise the homeowner to find another place to stay for the evening (assuming it's after hours), and to call a professional to check out the appliances for whatever could be wrong. We also ask our dispatcher to notify the utility company (number 1 on the list), that there is a problem. This is our SOP. We are not trained nor do we carry the equipment for draft testing.
    We usually don't hear about the positive outcomes from sending a family to a hotel for the night, like they all lived. But we do read about it in the papers the next day if there really was a problem and the H/O didn't take our advice.

    I know that all fire departments don't have the same SOP's, and that each officer handles things just a little bit differently than the next, but as a group, we are some of the most dedicated well trained bunch of people working today. We all have room for improvement. Thanks for your time.
    Lt. Scott Weston
    Hauser Lake Volunteer Fire District
    Hauser, Idaho
  • I hear you Jim but we must

    hang in there an hopefully reach as many as we can. I have been trying something new lately. I have been training insurance companies who in turn require those they insure such as gas companies and propane dealers to purchase and get trained on combustion testing and gas safety equipment.

    I am also working with the local training officers of the fire departments.

    We also recently had two homeowner classes one well attended the other had only one in attendance also trying to educate everyone about gas safety and CO issues.
  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578

    I have a son that is a full time fireman and he readily admits every fireman he's has talked to has little knowledge of CO and it is more of an inconvience to them.

    I agree that fireman along with policeman are the bravest people you will ever meet. My comment and experience with fire departments on the CO subject are fact. Having displayed at the National Fireman's Convention a 2 years in Indianapolis only solidified my position. Every fireman that came near the booth either said "Oh yeah that crap" or turned and walked the other way. And I also have many articles that state the number one cause of injury to fireman at fires is CO poisoning.

    Also have tried to do free training for fire departments over the years and there was no interest.

    The current UL Standard for CO alarms was written to guarantee people are sick and need of emergency care before they go off just to keep fire departments from making nuisance runs. I have that information in writing from 20/20 ABC News, which they attained from CPSC.

    Like any occupation, there are exceptions to the rule. But more often that not I read where the occupants are told to just go back inside after the space is ventilated and leave again if the levels get high again.

    By the way, Hotels are on my list as the single most dangerous building in the country when it comjes to CO poisoning. Almost 80% of all hotels I have tested in the last 30 years have tested with potential CO problems.

    Did you know that giving CO victims 100% Oxygen on the way to the hospital can cause additional brain damage or death?

    I am not blaming fire departments for the problem. The problem is consumers are led to believe firemen know this stuff really well. If only Low Level CO Monitors were allowed or regulated there would be know need for fire departments to respond at all.

    The medical field is just as depressing on this subject. Most CO victims are left in emergency rooms for observation rather than actually receiving treatment.

    I applaud your departments efforts on having aleast some type of SOP, but that is rare. Unfortunately a utility or a Professional(contractor with matching uniforms) may not provide any additional relief.
  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578

    Did you know that every time a contractor tells their insurance company that they do CO testing the insurance company wants to raise their rates?

    A law suit in Georgia still in progress as far as I know, has insurance companies claiming that CO is pollution and all policies have an exclusion that states this is not covered.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    Back to that boiler...

    In my neck of the woods (Cleveland), I've come across many boilers from that era built like that one which have what I've seen referred to as "derated manifolds." I started seeing them regularly when I was starting out, but the frequent flame rollouts couldn't be right. From the beginning, I used the analyzer to adjust the pressure. Quickly, a pattern developed. These all dialed in at about 2" w.c. manifold pressure. I took to marking the max manifold pressure clearly on the boiler jacket, so no one gets killed in the future if I'm not doing the work.

    I've only seen bad soot a few times and each was with this low manifold pressure setup along with lousy draft. [edit: low pressure manifold mis-adjusted to 3.5" w.c.]

    I mention this since the boiler in question here is of the same era and construction of those I've encountered with the lower manifold pressure and soot under the conditions you have there.

    Just my experience on this. Hope its helpful.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    Here's one I'm finishing up

    at a church. Its pretty much what you encountered. There was even soot on the outside of the jacket. The manifold pressure could be 2" max. Was nearly 4" when I arrived. Draft at .01.

    Check out the baseboards of the choir room above the boiler room:
  • Terry t

    What is the make and model of that boiler and what are the specifications from the manufacturer for proper operation. Jim Davis is in the Clevland area and I wonder if he is familar with this set up?
  • Plumdog_2
    Plumdog_2 Member Posts: 873
    I agree Jim

    Gas Co. personel can be really mis-informed, to put it mildly. And I DON'T mean Timmy. Just yesterday I saw a boiler in a confined space where the Propane co. guy had blocked off the combustion air and told the homeowner with much authority "you don't need them holes". 2500 ppm and rising.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853
    A modest proposal...

    I propose that we, the industry, led by the known leaders of CO issues (Timmie, Rudy and Jim) make a simple video. This video would show the typical signs (roll out scorch marks, indications of hood roll out, condensate on the windows etc) of the typical scenarios that we see on a daily basis. I suspect that we could hire the likes of Dave Yates and Company to do the actual filming necessary to put this whole thing together. It could then be put on to a CD or DVD for distribution throughout the WORLD, primarily to first responders.

    This could be a collaborative effort of the CO detection/prevention/education industry. If you can't get them to come to you, bring the presentation to them, in a setting where they are comfortable. Right in their own fire stations and homes.

    I suspect that the NFPA would be willing to kick in some grant money to facilitate the professional production and assist in the distribution.

    Think of the lives we could save...

    Does anyone know of anything like this that might already be out there?

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Jim Davis
    Jim Davis Member Posts: 305

    The problem here Mark is there is no typical. I have seen spotless equipment that has been dangerous with absolutely no visual signs. That possibly is the problem, the fact that everyone might be looking for something that is normal and that just isn't that easy. Although I teach that the most common sign of equipment operating improperly is rust, but that does not necessarily mean it has a CO problem at that time.

    Unless someone has a CO meter with a probe and can place it inside the flue or heat exchanger, no evaluation is truly possible. I still get fooled to this day by appearances and try to make assumptions.
  • Gotta start somewhere jim...

    if you teach a man to fish, he will discover BEER!
    maybe if we teach them the basics they will take the Initiative to further their CO educatio .

  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,853

    I hear where you are coming from, but these guys are not in the business of testing. They are in the business of being first responders. Something as obvious as scorch marks up the side of an appliance can be a dead give away. Especially one as marked up as Timco found. These guys probably didn't recognize it as an issue because they see the same thing on their old crusty appliance!

    We need to also make them ask questions, like "Did you have any exhaust fans running when the CO detector went off?" As you taught me, a perfectly clean burning appliance can turn into a killer in the blink of an eye when the GenAire grill their talented brother in law installed the previous weekend is turned on without some means of relief air...

    But we can't expect these guys togo into a house with a Testo and sample the flue gasses in the breach. It's not their job. Their job is to perform a preliminary diagnosis, and if unsure, back away from the appliance, condemn it from the gas meter (shut it off) and give them the names of competent contractors that CAN come in and do a proper and through job of detection, analysis, correction and prevention.

    But, if they don't know what to look for, they can't see the forest for the trees.

    If there aren't flames coming from it, it's not on fire...

    You have always stated "TEST, TEST, TEST!"

    RIght here and now, as it pertains to first responders, I say, "TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN!!!"

    If you TRAIN them, they WILL know the obvious signs to look for. It doesn't HAVE to have flames shooting from it to be deadly.

    Are you in? I would donate my time to write the script, and finding appliances to fill the role of potential killer shouldn't be a problem.

    Anyone else up for the challenge?

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • As one who has been

    training Fire Depts, Natural Gas Companies, Propane Companies for 50 years now. All who are on the list of those who do not know or do dumb things. It is very difficult to reach everyone with the message.

    I still have folks who should know better entering building that have an odor of gas not knowing what percentage is there and they could kill themselves. Many of them are plumbing and heating contractors who should know better. They do not have Combustible Gas Indicators to determine if the environment they are enetering is safe. Natural gas and propane can have lower explosive limits as low as 2% (Propane) and as high as 14% Natural gas. They do this everyday and every so often we have an incident.

    Carbon Monoxide is odorless etc so we can't detect it with the senses. How much more should we have testing before entering.
  • ScottRW
    ScottRW Member Posts: 33
    CO monitoring

    Tim, one of my concerns is for the guy with the monitor. (One of your employees maybe?) What precautions is he taking before entering a potentially lethal situation? You guys don't have SCBA to don prior to entry. So how do you deal with that situation? The initial post talked about 10,000 ppm, waaaay off the scale of being safe to enter without breathing protection. I see the tech as a potential victim as do you.
    I applaud your efforts to want to train techs. These guys are actually called as often than we are (fire dept.). Can you afford to buy a 4 gas meter for each van, or 1 even? The expense is certainly justifiable. In our area, we call the local utility company and they show up with a sniffer to pinpoint the origin of the CO. They will shut down the appliance and then repeat what we have already told the h/o. Get this fixed before relighting. Problem is, we can't make them leave or NOT relight. All we can do is educate them. Sometimes though, you can't fix stupid.
    I'd be interested in whatever video or other teaching tool you come up with in this regard. If there is someting I can do to pitch in and help with it, I'd be happy to. Perhaps review it with other training officers here in the West. Thanks for all you do.

    Scott Weston
  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578

    Fire Department have medical personnel and need to diagnose people first. The new Rad 57 CO pulse Oximeter can almost tell instantly if people are CO poisoned and that is their most important job. They need to find out which contractors in their area have some type of actual CO training. Many areas have nobody, so no matter what the real problem might be the people would still be at risk. At least if they check the people, valid proof of a problem will be known.

    Unless fire departments want to learn the whole story I don't think feeding them partial information works any better for them than it does for contractors.

    I have never felt comfortable something is better than nothing when it comes to CO. Saving one out of 10 lives is better than nothing but saving all 10 should be the only optionI believe partial information creates more mistakes than no information.
  • All my training is directed

    as far as gas above the Lower Explosive Limit ( I use 2% gas as the danger point) and CO that if there is a dangerous situation do not enter the facility and get all personnel living or working there out. The first person at the site has to initiate evacuation immediately. Waiting for permission or for fire dept or utility does not work.

    Procesure for techs on CO 10 to 24 PPM in the air enter proceed with testing and caution, 25 to 49 PPM open doors and windows and proceed again with caution to locate source, 50 to 70 PPM (UL 2034 Alarm Point) evacuate and contact first responders.

    I encourage all my students to carry a personal protective alarm device set to 9 PPM.

    As far as shutting off equipment I teach techs to disconnect the fuel source either gas or oil so there is no flow of fuel. Shutting of valves and switches is not adequate. Court cases I have been involved with on this subject the judges prevailing determined that safe to the court was removal of the fuel source by disconnecting and capping off. It is also necessary to red tag the equipment and I personally send a registered letter to the party whose equipment I shut off advising them it is unsafe to operate until repair or replacement has occured.

    As far as cost to purchase test equipment it will cost them a lot more when someone dies, maybe there own employee. It is also necessary on a lot of new high efficiency equipment to use a tester to set it up correctly. Truth is all equipment should be tested and adjsuted at time of installation. We talk about being "green" the best green I know to wake people up is what we carry in our wallets, a law suit is a lot more expensive than a tester. Lets face it the oil guys have been testing for yers I do not hear them complaining about buying equipment.

    We need to get the gas equipment manufacturers and there association GAMA to wake up and put some pressure on the testing process.Try this on the front page of the I and O manual "IT IS MANDATORY THAT A COMBUSTION TEST BE CONDUCTED AT TIME OF INSTALLATION OR WARRANTY IS VOIDED".
  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578

    The firswt manufacturer of furnaces that mandates combustion testing will go out of business because most of their customers will switch brands. 98% of contractors don't test on a regular basis now or don't know how!

    GAMA still believes in eyeballing according to an article in their magazine in 2005.

    A.O. Smith was the first manufacturer that ever required a combustion test on their commercial waters heaters before they would validate the warranty. Must most still didn't test, they just made up numbers that fit into A.O. Smiths parameters.
  • Ken Field
    Ken Field Member Posts: 127
    This topic needs much more discussion.

    It only surfaces after an incident. I think the most important thing we could do is to have the system that causes a problem be checked by someone who is actually certified to test and adjust gas equipment for CO. Not just a tech who relights it. I have used a micromanometer to check pressures between boiler/furnace rooms and adjacent areas and have found some strange occurrences. I have those tools from being involved in building science otherwise I would not have them either. As buildings get tighter we will see many more CO problems arise. Residents with low level detectors will live to tell their storu, others may not. Jim Davis and his teachings changed my life and the lives of my employees. I have tried and proved many of his uncommon methods first hand and learn something new on every troubleshooting call.

    Ken F

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  • Mark Custis
    Mark Custis Member Posts: 539

    I would not be working if I had a nickle for every gas fired unit that I have been the first person to remove the manifold or supply tap on. I wonder why they install the manufature's plates with the info printed as to correct pressure.

    Tilting burners does work and I am still alive 15 years after I was taught what to do and how to do it.

    ^^^^^waves to Jim from Sheffield Lake.
  • ScottRW
    ScottRW Member Posts: 33
    Jim, I did some checking today to find out which departments

    in our immediate area have the Rad 57 pulse ox. One on the larger departments has none, and two of the other large departments have two each. So that means in our area of approx. 3100 sq. miles, we have 4 Rad 57 Pulse Ox's. I will in the next week begin checking with the local heating contractors to see who has had any training in CO, and how they handle a situation like the one that started this thread.
    I woud like to thank all of you who have entered into the fray here, and opened my eyes further to this very lethel problem.
    Thanks, Scott
This discussion has been closed.