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If you walk into a building and detect the presence of incomplete combustion, ie aldehydes are you t

At one time I carried a reliable CO detector on my belt at all time.  I would walk into a convenience store etc. and the alarm would sound with a digital readout of ppm co.  This was one of the 2 year count down devices, that expired once the time had run out.  Explain to the store manager there was a problem and show them the readings, suggest they have the cooking equipment or heating units checked.  

I currently do not carry it anymore as I have not been as active in the hvac service field.  Still in the trade, just a different focus.

This winter I walked into 2 different stores and smelled the aldehyde smell, one time another tech was along and detected the same smell and knew what it was.  Explained to the store personal to have the heating system and cooking equipment check/serviced.

What else is a person to do?  You do your due diligence by informing the manager, Is there more?

Where is the industry going?  If I notified the manager and someone is sickened by there refusal to act.  Where are the consequences? 

What is the lowest CO levels we as an industry are going to accept?

Are there laws protecting us once we make such complaints?

Sorry about the rant, something I had to bring to the forum and ask.

Thank you,

Minnesota Wayne


  • MJS
    MJS Member Posts: 18
    You did more than most

    I think you did your civic duty and then some. Telling someone of potential danger is always right.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    Drop a dime...

    on their utility purveyor. They have a HUGE stake in the attached liability.

    If it is strong enough to smell, it is strong enough to cause problems with extended lo level exposure.

    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.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,551
    First of all so everyone

    knows what aldehyde's are: The impingement of flames on cooler surfaces will cause the flame to cool and an odor is created which is almost a kerosene like odor that is aldehyde it is a definite sign of Carbon Monoxide. Keep in mind CO is odorless, colorless and undetectable by human senses. If you smell aldehyde then CO is definitely present.

    I have carried a personal protective CO detector on my belt for years and could relate many stories as to the many times I have picked up CO in some very unusual places.

    I also often stay in hotels both for my business and when ministering in different churches.I test every room before i stay in the hotel and again I could tell many stories about how dangerous hotels are. Just one word of warning never stay next to the boiler room or above it.

    To answer the questions posed I will tell you what I do: If I am able when walking into a building to have 9 PPM or higher then something is wrong. I will definitely let the manager know what I have detected.

    If the level is over 9 PPM and climbing I will let someone know and get out of the building myself. If no action is taken then I call 911 and get emergency personnel on the scene. I stay and identify myself as a foreign odor expert and they can go from there.

    As for levels of CO forget ANSI  Standards for flue gases which are somewhat high. The maximum on CO in a flue sample air free is 100 PPM for oil and for gas unless manufacturers specs state otherwise (some high end equipment is a little higher than 100 on high fire). In a living space residence 9 PPM is maximum in the air. OSHA for work environment allows 35 PPM as a maximum. I personally treat them all the same.

    Watch out for forklifts in Lowes and Home Depot. Watch out for construction heaters on job sites. Both are big CO problems.

    As far as law goes as an Expert Witness in court cases I can tell you that if you do nothing and can be found negligent you are in big trouble. I take the stand I will do everything I can to protect life, limb and property and my lawyer can handle the rest. I have never had a problem being reactive.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,839
    A question for Tim and anyone else interested in responding.

    Tim, Why is it that boilers with an input above 399,000 btuH are exempt from the requirement for spill switches and roll out switches?

    This has confused me forever, and I have even asked for input from my column to no avail.

    Why is it OK to expose people to CO from big appliances, but not small appliances?

    ANSI Z21 covers most residential appliances no?

    Thanks for any input.

    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.
  • Tim McElwain
    Tim McElwain Member Posts: 4,551

    I sent you an e-mail but am now able to post:

    Boilers over 400,000 are covered by ANSI Z83.3 and various insurers such as Factory Mutual and UL. Those boilers have a number of safeties required such as low and high pressure gas switches. Also many of them use Ultra Violet detection systems which are very sensitive to burner conditons. Even more so than say a Cad Cell on oil. On most of them using power burners a roll out switch would not be feasible. As for spill switches I have never seen any on large boilers but can't see any reason why they could not be added to a system.
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