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Flood Clean-Up Cautions

BillW
BillW Member Posts: 198
I wish I didn't have to publish this again, but  we on the East Coast just got hammered by another hurricane!  The record storm surge and epic waves and the very high winds are the story this time, not so much the rain, like we had in Irene, although some places in South Jersey got 11 inches of rain.  Floods are a major killer, and the mess they leave behind is tragic and difficult to clean up.  What follows are some cautions to help prevent a disaster from becoming even worse.

Flood water is dangerous and disgusting.  It contains raw sewage, petroleum products, chemicals and all kinds of debris like lumber filled with nails and screws, propane tanks and unidentified chemical drums and buckets, dead animals, and in certain parts of the country, live ones that are dangerous like venomous snakes and alligators.  The force of moving water is elemental, it can move buildings off foundations, literally blow them apart, and travel incredible distances in storm surge or tsunami events.  There is little you can do but get out of the way.

Once the event is over, and the waters recede, the danger is far from over. Highly contaminated water remains in basements and low spots, and debris is everywhere.  Leave it to the first responders to deal with the hazardous or unknown chemical drums and buckets, and propane tanks.  Report anything like that you find to them, and do not handle it.  Next, make sure the gas and electricity is shut off.  Water conducts electricity, and a live wire can kill you from a long distance. Gas leaks have already destroyed 80+ homes on the NJ Barrier Islands by fire & explosions. Have competent authority check a building to make certain it is safe to enter, and is structurally sound before you enter it.

<strong>Every time one of these events occurs, more needless loss of life happens from carbon monoxide!  DO NOT run any gasoline or diesel powered pump, pressure washer or generator in a confined area!  Just today, a local police officer prevented a tragedy by seeing that a family was running a generator in their garage, and made them take it outside.  The homeowner thought he'd be safe with the garage door partly open.</strong>

Once the water is pumped out of the basement, you have about 48 hours to remove all the soaked furniture, carpet, sheetrock, panelling, and insulation before mold growth starts. YOU CAN NOT DRY WET SHEETROCK! It must be removed.  Have an electrician check your panel and wiring, and repair any damage, before the power goes back on.  Follow the instructions from the Red Cross, FEMA or local health officials on how to decontaminate the space.  There are too many variables to make a "one size fits all" decon procedure. Once the slime and mud is cleaned up, then blowers and dehumidifiers can be used to dry the place out. 

After these disasters, don't be victimized twice!  Everyone who can get to the "Big Box" store and buy a pressure washer and a wet-dry vacuum is now a  "certified flood cleanup contractor".  Avoid them like the plague.  Stick with the nationally-advertised guys or a reputable local contractor.

Finally, NEVER try to relight ANY combustion device that has been flooded!  If you do, you are likely to cause a fire or explosion resulting in death or injury and additional property damage.<strong> NO oil or gas control by any manufacturer is safe to use after being flooded.  The only alternative is to replace the device.  This includes water heaters, boilers and furnaces. </strong>

<strong>Stay safe and don't compound an already bad situation.</strong>

Comments

  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,368
    flooded

    If I remember correctly there was a thread about this in the past but because I can not find it I will ask the very relevant question. Is it safe to reuse a flooded boiler, water heater furnace etc if the controls have been replaced? I am assuming that the insulation will be contaminated and should be replaced(probably not cost effective on a water heater).
  • ColoradoDave
    ColoradoDave Member Posts: 54
    Other issues with fuel appliances

    Replacing all the electronics is one thing for a flooded appliance..... what about the gas burners?  Draft passages? Venting flue and connections?

    Other things that need to be considered are contamination of the burner compartment (debris, residues, chemical residues, etc).... getting that cleaned out so it doesn't affect the combustion process.

    How much flooding?  4 inches of water in the basement is alot different situation for your appliance than 3 feet of water.

    In a furnace or dhw appliance... was the "domestic side" compromised... again... chemical vapors, debris...etc.

    It basically comes down to having a qualified professional thorough inspect your entire system ... if he/she is done in under an hour... fire them and get someone else.  Under an hour in the "flooded" situation, not a regular inspection.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Flood

    I find how high the water went, mark it on the appliance, and see what was covered. Anything covered requires replacement; gas valves, burners, manifolds, orifices, safety switches, controls, etc. If the appliance was completely covered, what's the point of an inspection? It's unsafe and must be replaced.



    Last year, we saw a lot of "dried out" water heaters and furnaces. Most of them suffered from small explosions and electrical fires as much as a month later. We spent a lot of time chasing the "local plumber" offering a $100 dry and fire routine. Scary!
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    Flood damaged appliances

    Besides the chemicals and sewage I mentioned, floodwater contains sand, silt and mud, and if the flood was a result of ocean storm surge, salt water.  Insulation is soaked and contaminated. Gas burners and oil burner guns are likely full of fine silt and other debris, boiler sections, combustion chambers and heat exchangers coated with mud and chemical/oil residue. Underground oil tanks may be contaminated with water.  Salt water is death to any electrical component. It is unsafe to relight any flooded combustion appliance, and if you do it, you may be opening yourself up to lawsuits if the device causes a fire or explosion.  Replacement is the ONLY safe alternative.  Contact your local government people to get information for your customers on rebates, FEMA loans, other disaster assistance, and insurance coverage.  Homeowner policies DO NOT cover floods, and unless they had flood insurance, the damage likely is not covered.  Stay safe out there.
  • Jason_13
    Jason_13 Member Posts: 299
    Flooded boilers

    If the boiler is flooded at any extent it should be replaced. If the combustion area gets wet the insulation will start to crumble down the road and the base insulation will need to be replaced. If the jacket insulation gets wet it can cause mold to grow their not to mention what can get absorbed by the types of insulation such as chemicals, petroleum products, silts, bacteria etc. If the boiler got wet------replace it.
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,368
    source

    I know this stuff should be easy to understand and shouldn't need proof but is there any"official" code or regulation or the like that is explicit about the reuse of submerged boilers or water heaters even if the gas control and burner has been replaced(sorry bout runon sentence).
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    edited November 2012
    Technical Data sheets

    Any manufacturer's technical data sheets will have that info for controls, or call their tech support hotline.I don't know if any "government" regulations exist, but common sense must prevail. Don't risk a fire or explosion causing further property damage or injury!
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,368
    reason

    Reason that I am asking is that I am connected to one of the local volunteer relief agencies and I want them to get the word out about danger involved. If I had something concrete then I would have more credence. I can't call every manufacturer and anyway everyone thinks that the manufacturer is trying to make another sale.
  • JStar
    JStar Member Posts: 2,752
    Info

    Check the websites for FEMA, AHRI, and NJ State Police.
  • Steve_210
    Steve_210 Member Posts: 594
    Insurance

    Another thing maybe somebody has mentioned this already and correct me if I'm wrong but if you Re use A flooded Boiler or appliance your insurance company would probably not cover you in a fire
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Some one in the flood zones and power outage areas...

    Needs t contact the local media (radio, TV and print) and warn people about the dangers of using a gas powered generator and the potential of carbon monoxide poisoning. Even if the generator is not being operated indoors, an open window can allow this deadly gas to come into the house.



    Sad fact, but I can guarantee you that people will die after the fact from generator and other carbon monoxide situations (using an LP grill in their home to keep warm, or charcoal grills etc.)



    I hope that some of you responsible contractors back there will do a public service announcement to this affect to the best, most appropriate media. Obviously, people who don't have power won't have TVs will probably not see it, but many people have battery powered radios. Get the word out NOW!



    Devastating...



    ME
    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.
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    CO Danger

    All our local radio & TV stations are broadcasting PSA's about the dangers of running generators etc. in confined spaces, and warning about trying to heat your home with ovens or ranges.  Our power grid and even natural gas distribution in shore areas are a shambles right now, and a lot of people have no contact with the outside world and even some cell service is spotty as relay station generators and batteries run out of fuel or discharge, or the towers were blown down.  Some areas here are in basic survival mode.  Thanks for the concern, Mark.
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    back to front page

    back
  • Joseph_4
    Joseph_4 Member Posts: 230
    Thanks for all the info BillW

    Thanks for all the info BillW. This is the information I needed to hear and see from someone experienced and knows the facts. Now I feel I have some education on the issue

    Joe Hardoon

    HHI Services LLC
  • Joseph_4
    Joseph_4 Member Posts: 230
    BillW Can we print your posts in our local paper?

    It will explain the situation and educate people so when we tell them to throw things out they wont think we are just trying to rip them off. A lot of people are skeptical when you tell them to replace everything
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    Cleanups

     I would prefer that you NOT put this in the local paper,since I do not represent any government agency, manufacturer or contractor.  I am retired after 40 years in industrial health & safety, oil spill and hazardous materials clean-up and HVAC controls, focusing on indoor air quality. I am publishing this based on my experience, and as a public service.  I have no business or financial ties with any manufacturer or contractor. That being said, however, outside of those who know me and have worked with me in the past, I'm just another guy with an opinion.  Your customers probably want something offical from the government, a manufacturer or other authority.  Contact FEMA, whichever manufacturer you represent, or local fire marshals or regulators for the "official" ruling on this.

      You can find the information on relighting/restarting flooded gas/oil/electric appliances on the manufacturer's websites and technical sheets for things like gas valves and spark modules.  The damage to anything electrical by salt water is obvious.  The filth and contamination from dirt and silt clogs burners and heat exchangers. Water ruins insulation  and combustion chambers and the residue coats boiler sections and heat exchangers, AC coils and condensate pans, and leaves behind possibly toxic/infectious residues.  Encourage your customers to contact their insurance companies and FEMA for more information. Ordinary home insurance does not cover floods. People who try to relight flood damaged appliances risk fire, explosion or additional damage.  Their insurance companies may not cover them if a fire results from a flood damaged appliance being re-lit.  Contractors leave themselves open to law suits if their re-lights cause fires or damage.

      I know replacement is expensive, and that supplies are short, and that the reputable contractors and utilities are going to be swamped, and that this couldn't have happened at a worse time, with winter coming on.  I understand customers being skeptical, because the scam artists who always show up after these things happen are already around.  Relighting a flood damage combustion appliance only will compound an already bad situation.
  • Joseph_4
    Joseph_4 Member Posts: 230
    Your posts explain the issues

    I will respect your wishes and pull your post. Is a link to this thread ok with you. However, your post educates people who never had any flood experience. At the end of the day, they will follow FEMA. But let them understand. I have customer/homeowners relighting submerged boilers and the word needs to get out not to do so

    Joe
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 1,368
    gas piping

    Do NOT overlook the need to replace all gas piping that was below the water level. Even a few drops in the gas piping could result in the gas control valve remaining open when it shouldn't which could result in gas explosions. This may happen 10 minutes latter, 10 days latter or weeks later. It is nice to try to have pity on your customers but there are some issues that are life and death and can not be overlooked. No matter how desperate the customer is(no fault on their part) it is your responsibility to ensure their safety. Do not take your instructions from the customer. Brain surgeons do not allow their patients dictate how to perform procedures and neither should you.
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    A link is ok.

    A link is OK.  Thank you for your kind comments.  I just don't want to cause any conflicts with FEMA, Red Cross or state/local authority.
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    edited November 2012
    "Official" info on flooded equipment.

    Please refer to Chris's "homeowners and flooded equipment " post concerning the AHRI link.
  • Joseph_4
    Joseph_4 Member Posts: 230
    Here's the article I wrote for my local paper today. Thanks to all of u out there. And that you Dan Holohan for this unbelievable site

    I wrote this article appearing today thanks to all the information you have all provided. I printed it up and just hand it to my customers. Its saves me valuable time and lets me help more people

    Joseph Hardoon

    HHI

    VITAL INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR SUBMERED/FLOODED WATER HEATER AND BOILER

    I’m trying to advise people what needs to be done regarding their boilers and water heaters that have been submerged under water or flooded. Many of my customers want to know what to do. Instead of discussing it with each person I decided to compile my opinion based on my research.

    As I sit down to write this, I’ve spent the past several days discussing the issues with heating experts and boiler manufacturers. Before Sandy, I’ve never had to deal with floods of this scale. My goals are to do only what is necessary to make the systems safe, get them back up and running, while trying to save my customers as much money as possible.



    FACT: Government agencies such as FEMA, AHRI, and all boiler manufacturers me a statement from Burnham boilers yesterday (Nov 5 2012) say that any gas appliances such as boilers and water heaters that were submerged in water MUST be replaced. They should not be relit by anyone. Government agencies such as FEMA, AHRI, and all boiler manufacturers me a statement from Burnham boilers yesterday (Nov 5 2012) say that any gas appliances such as boilers and water heaters that were submerged in water MUST be replaced. They should not be relit by anyone.

    (My colleague, Ahron Koster, personally spoke to Peerless boilers, Slant Fin boilers, and sent me a statement from Burnham boilers all yesterday



    Even if someone were tell you (as I began telling my customers last Wednsday after the hurricane) before this research that they can save boiler by replacing ALL submerged controls and cleaning pilot tubes and scrubbing boiler sections etc., it is so labor intensive that it would require at least 10 hours labor, and it still could explode. Material cost will never be less than $500 probably close to $1000. And that’s without labor charge. A replacement boiler cost usually in $5000-$8500 range depending on type forced water or steam, how many zones, how large boiler etc. To spend say $3000 on something that will still be full of problems is a waste of money. In addition, any problems you have in the future say G-d forbid it creates small explosion or there is Carbon Monoxide poisining G"F, the insurance companies wont cover it once it went through a flood

    Some of the reasons why boiler needs to be replaced are as follows:
    • carbon monoxide poisioning- the passageways between sections get blocked with salt mud, etc. When boiler is turned on, if combustion gases can’t go up your chimney, they pour into your house instead
    • fire hazard- water conducts electricity. Electrical controls that get wet can short the hot and neutral wire and catch fire
    • explosion-when gas lines get water in them from flood, salt water, raw sewage etc. toxins in them can make natural gas explode
    • wears out quicker- once it get salt water on the cast iron sections, it will wear out quicker causing a leaky boiler
    • chemical contamination- sections that get contaminated cause the combustion process to be altered. Residue on sections from flood can be flammable depending on what it picked up
    • sand, silt and mud- gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion
    • poisioning- the passageways between sections get blocked with salt mud, etc. When boiler is turned on, if combustion gases can’t go up your chimney, they pour into your house instead
    • fire hazard- water conducts electricity. Electrical controls that get wet can short the hot and neutral wire and catch fire
    • explosion-when gas lines get water in them from flood, salt water, raw sewage etc. toxins in them can make natural gas explode
    • wears out quicker- once it get salt water on the cast iron sections, it will wear out quicker causing a leaky boiler
    • chemical contamination- sections that get contaminated cause the combustion process to be altered. Residue on sections from flood can be flammable depending on what it picked up
    • sand, silt and mud- gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion
    • water conducts electricity. Electrical controls that get wet can short the hot and neutral wire and catch fire
    • explosion-when gas lines get water in them from flood, salt water, raw sewage etc. toxins in them can make natural gas explode
    • wears out quicker- once it get salt water on the cast iron sections, it will wear out quicker causing a leaky boiler
    • chemical contamination- sections that get contaminated cause the combustion process to be altered. Residue on sections from flood can be flammable depending on what it picked up
    • sand, silt and mud- gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion
    • when gas lines get water in them from flood, salt water, raw sewage etc. toxins in them can make natural gas explode
    • wears out quicker- once it get salt water on the cast iron sections, it will wear out quicker causing a leaky boiler
    • chemical contamination- sections that get contaminated cause the combustion process to be altered. Residue on sections from flood can be flammable depending on what it picked up
    • sand, silt and mud- gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion
    • once it get salt water on the cast iron sections, it will wear out quicker causing a leaky boiler
    • chemical contamination- sections that get contaminated cause the combustion process to be altered. Residue on sections from flood can be flammable depending on what it picked up
    • sand, silt and mud- gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion
    • sections that get contaminated cause the combustion process to be altered. Residue on sections from flood can be flammable depending on what it picked up
    • sand, silt and mud- gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion
    • gets soaked into insulation causing them to mold. Gets into burner tubes and manifold results in explosions or bad combustion

      If you are a skeptic and think the agencies are just not caring about your situation or maybe the boiler companies are just trying to sell new boilers then listen to my most recent experience at the house of Avrohom and Fryde Rekant of Lawrence, New York. I went to his house Thursday believing I could replace only the controls and clean up the boiler.

      Here is what happened so far: I replaced all electrical controls that got submerged, the circulator pump. Here is what I did concerning the gas end: I replaced the gas valve and thermocouple. I removed the pilot orifice- it was clean. I emptied out water from the pilot tubing and blew out what ever water was left. I removed all the burners tubes and emptied them out from water and wiped them down and put them back. I cleaned the burner manifold tube and soaked the water as much as possible with paper towels and cleaned out the burner manifold orfices. The pilot is burning nicely a clean blue flame.



      PROBLEM :When I turn the boiler on, on a call for heat when the main valve opens up some of the time there’s a delay of 2-3 seconds and the flame lights with a small boom, yeah actually a small explosion. Got the flame explosion 3 out of every 4 tries. Meaning 1 out of 4 was normal and smooth.

      I tried to adjust the pilot flame thinking that the pilot flame thinking that the pilot flame was a little small and I found it already at its maximum before I touched it.

      I obviously did not leave the customer like that. Shut down boiler.That's where I ended last night and that’s where I’m done with thinking I know better than FEMA and the boiler manufactures. He needs to replace his boiler. End of Story. Oh and by the way. He just replaced it before Pesach.

       

      Finally. Please look at the following links on your computer (if you have a generator or power) You will see issues on black and white. Throw the appliances out.

       



      [size=8][color=#0000a0][u]http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/143163/SUBMERGED-Boilers-and-Water-heater-What-absolutely-needs-replacing#p1277915[/u][/size][/color]



      [size=8][color=#800080][u]http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/143072/Flood-Clean-Up-Cautions[/u][/size][/color][size=8][color=#0000a0][u]http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/143163/SUBMERGED-Boilers-and-Water-heater-What-absolutely-needs-replacing#p1277915[/u][/size][/color]



      [size=8][color=#800080][u]http://www.heatinghelp.com/forum-thread/143072/Flood-Clean-Up-Cautions[/u][/size][/color]

       

       

      (I am Joseph in the posts and bn is Ahron Koster)



      I would like to thankTJH for taking this article with its due seriousness. Would like to thank Ahron Koster for calling the boiler companies and using him as a chavrusa to sharpen the "sugya". He’s a great plumber from Kew Gardens He can be reached at 917 613 0193.He does come to work in the Rockaways and Five Towns. Would like to thank the Rekants for their patience and calm demeaner even now as they still have no heat. I can be reached at 718 9866007 or email [email protected]
    . I’m happy to help you out.

    I have a lot of money saving ways to help with your heat in the interum period, but have not had time to write it. Hopefully will be addendum article next week

    You can text me or email me tour questions. Yossie Hardoon-HHI SERVICES LLC



    PLEASE DO NOT HAVE AN UNQUALIFIED PERSON TO WIRE YOUR BOILER TO A GENERATOR. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, NOT ALL ELECTRICIANS ARE FAMILIAR WITH BOILERS. THEY MUST KNOW THE FUNCTION OF ALL BOILER CONTROLS BEFORE WIRING IT. I JUST CAME FROM A CALL WHERE A LOCAL SHUL SENT AROUND A GROUP OF PEOPLE DOING CHESED TO DIFFERENT FAMILIES TO GET THEM HEAT. THE PERSON BYPASSED WITH HIS WIRING THE LOW WATER CUT OFF ON A 24 VOLT STEAM/GAS SYSTEM. THE LOW WATER CUT OFF IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SAFETY FEATURE ON A STEAM BOILER. IN ADDITION, HE WIRED A 120 VOLTS TO A 24 VOLT GAS VALVE. ASIDE FROM DESTROYING THE GAS VALVE, WHICH IS AN EXPENSIVE COMPONENT, IF HIS IDEA WOULD HAVE WORKED, HE WOULD HAVE LEFT THEM IN A PRECARIOUS SITUATION. WHAT IS BETTER, SOME COLD OR THE IRREPLACABLE LOSS OF A FAMILY?

    IN ADDITION, ANYONE WHOSE GAS BOILER OR WATER HEATER WAS SUBMERGED IN WATER SHOULD HAVE THE GAS VALVE SHUT OFF AND NOT TO BE TURNED ON BEFORE A QUALIFIED PLUMBER/HVAC CONTRACTOR CAN COME LOOK AT YOUR APPLIANCE. THIS INCLUDES WATER HEATERS WHOSE MAIN BURNER TRAY GOT SUBMERGED IN WATER. THIS MEANS IF YOU GOT ABOUT 4 INCHES OF WATER YOU SHOULD NOT LIGHT YOUR WATER HEATER BY YOURSELF. YOU NEED A PERSON WITH EXPERIENCE TO WATCH HOW THE FLAME IS BURNING AND BEHAVING BEFORE LEAVING IT ALONE. YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY KNOW THIS EVEN IF YOU KNOW HOW TO LIGHT YOUR WATER HEATER. ANY DOUBTS THAT YOU HAVE, DO NOT PROCEED

     Servics LLC
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