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Colorado Monoxide Case Moves Toward Trial

SteveSteve Member Posts: 234


  • billbill Member Posts: 429
    Another interesting development

    During this whole thing I've never read about who owns the house. I'm sure their homeowners policy was hit for the policy limit. Whoever the owners are they must feel horrible.

    Taking on a case like this is a complex and expensive matter. Both sides must feel rather confident in themselves.

    My bet- They will settle
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    terrible stuff

    you need to follow the rules when it comes to CO, always clean, prime, and glue your joints, always install a hard wired CO {not wired into the boiler circuit}, always hang the boiler well, and hang your pipes secure, always follow the spacing requirements, ect... And you still can't bet your life that nothing will fail and someone will get hurt or worse... I have seen some crazy practices, and always think to myself, "if these contractors don't care about their customers safety, don't they realize they will go to jail and lose everything if they hurt someone else"....

    I am reminded of the picture that used to hang in RE micheals of the Pressure relief valve coming off the boiler and pointing down into a toy box full of toys {about 3ft off the ground}
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,328
    It will be interesting to see

    whether the use of PVC venting is found to be a Code violation, since it is not listed as a venting material. ISTR one of the defendants in this case or a similar one was the pipe manufacturer, who testified that they had never had their PVC pipe listed for this use. 
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 220
    Why does everyone keep bringing up the PVC not tested comment, your not entirely right

    How Appliances are Certified

    It's the appliance venting system that is certified, not the pipe.

    How would you like to go the route of Canada and require ULC S 636 standards which is PVC and CPVC with labels on it and 5 times the price, would that help you with PVC certifications?

    Gas fired boilers and water heaters are required to be safety certified by a third party testing agency according to the American National Standards/CSA Standards. Boilers are design certified to ANSI Z21.13/CSA 4.9 and commercial water heaters are design certified to ANSI Z21.10.3/CSA 4.3.

    As a part of this certification, the appliance must undergo tests to assure the specified venting system is appropriate for use with the appliance. Each standard includes specific test procedures for Non-metallic venting like PVC/CPVC. The appliance is placed in

    a closet and the water temperatures are raised to the highest permissible level. This generates the highest flue gas temperatures. Under these conditions, data is collected to verify the vent material’s temperature limitations are not exceeded.
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056
    What Is That Temp

    Who defines the temp limitation for PVC pipe? The manufacturer of the pipe? I've searched high and low for test data and it seems to be top secret.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056
    What Is That Temp

    Who defines the temp limitation for PVC pipe? The manufacturer of the pipe? I've searched high and low for test data and it seems to be top secret.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    PVC Venting:

    Steamer is right, you are wrong.

    Charlotte and other PVC pipe and fittings have never listed their Sch, 40 1100 pipe for venting gas appliances. It isn't even listed for liquids over 140 degrees. It is marked on the pipe "DWV", Drain, Waste and Vent. Just because a boiler manufacturer gets their product listed with a product that isn't listed, doesn't make the unlisted product listed.

    I once put plumbing and heating in a barn with living space. The AHJ went nuts on the contractor because he didn't follow the air space separation between the two spaces. It called for double 5/8" sheet rock on both surfaces with a 1" minimum air space between the two. to get the "Listed" 2 hour fire rating. 24" of solid 5/8 sheetrock would not give a 2 hour listed rating because no one ever paid for a 24" sheetrock wall to give ANY fire rating for the wall system being addressed. For $100,000 or more, you might be able to get it listed in a few years, The AHJ wasn't having any part of the problem.
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Member Posts: 6,653
    Temperature limitation

    The important thing to remember, Chris, is that it isn't the material which is certified under ANSI or NSF or CSA or whatever, it's the total system.  Which includes not only the various bits and pieces, but how they are put together and the conditions under which they are expected to operate (there are a lot of systems which are certified for one set of conditions, but not for others).

    The tests which are required push the envelope of the specified conditions as far as they will go, and sometimes seem kind of silly.  But the bottom line is -- if somebody hasn't done the test and certified it, and you try the installation, you are doing the testing -- and are responsible for it.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-McClain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    My very point:

    My very point to my comment. If the manufacturer "suggests" that you use PVC venting for their appliance, first, did they actually get a legal listing if a part of the system isn't approved for use by the manufacturer of the part?

    I say that if you install a listed system, that has been tested and has a UL listing, and you follow the letter of the listing, you are covered and if there is a failure, you are in the clear as to responsibility. But if the manufacturer doesn't have a complete tested listing, with all the ducks in a row, you could be getting the short straw if there is a problem.

    I've done plenty of PVC venting. I never had a problem. I didn't know that there was an issue until I went to a Veissmann school and it was discussed.
  • heatpro02920heatpro02920 Member Posts: 991
    Time will tell, I guess...

    When the court figures this out for us...

    What about the company that made the epoxy, did that get certified, how about the company that made the can the epoxy came in, or the company that sold the epoxy with out posting its limitations in 4 different languages and braille.... Point is, when something like this happens EVERYONE is sued, which is fine, but when you can spend 15+ years in jail for not using the correct pipe on a boiler install, its time to start paying better attention to every detail...

    Where does it end? I bet you I can tell who is at fault with just a few pictures of the install and a materials list.. Was this job inspected, did anyone even pull a permit, were the people licensed and insured?

    I'll admit back when we were doing a lot of swap outs and conversions {before anyone was venting anything without a chimney}, I never worried about hurting someone with a new boiler... Now with these mod/cons and direct vent boilers, I install hardwired CO's on every job, wired into the boiler circuit... And I also throw another {battery powered} co detector on the first floor or stairway top.... Just add the $78 to the install and sleep a little better... But the most important thing to do it follow the instructions....
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,328
    I find it interesting

    that some people won't install gas conversion burners in oil-fired boilers, because they say the resulting unit is not listed- even though the conversion burners themselves are listed for converting oil boilers to gas.

    Yet they don't have a problem with PVC not being listed for use as a gas venting material.

    Go figure.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 220

    UL has nothing to do with it PVC is tested as a system with the appliance and certified as a venting system by CSA. CSA includes and goes far beyond UL standards. Please check me on this, that's why gas tankless and boilers don't have UL typically because CSA exceeds the UL standards.

    Once the system is tested and approved CSA also regulates the installation manual regarding the certified appliance. Rules and guidlines are check and verified.

    No regulation agency can regulate if the installer can or doesn't follow the instructions. And can local inspectors do that? In many cases I think not.

    I personally have seen numerous polypropylene vent systems stuck into unlined masonry chimneys. So is the PP suppliers or the PP pipe itselfs fault it won't vent and a dangerous condition exists?

    Maybe a lot of you have taken the polypropylene pill, and to this day I can't understand why. Whats your fight or motivation in this? but PVC can be used safely as long as the specification and directions are followed. Simple as that. Perhaps the products you promote won't allow, and your frustrated selling against appliance within limitations that can use PVC?


    PVC sch 40 pipe specs are readily available from the manufacturers, just ask;

    According to PVC Pipe and fitting manufacturers, PVC has the following ratings:

    Maximum Temperature: 158°F, 70°C

    Minimum Temperature: -13°F, -25°C

    Melting Point: 176°F, 80°C

    Tensile Strength: 6,500 psi

    Please note the real temp is 158 degrees, all the mud slingers and misinformed often throw around 149 degrees, but that's the temp limit with pressure, per ASTM (plumbing). There is no measurable pressure on a cat4 vent system.

    A major PVC pipe & fitting manufacturer’s stance on the subject: “At present there is little data available on the safety or durability of plastic pipe products used to vent combustion gases. The ASTM has not addressed this application, and the available data is insufficient for the plastic pipe and fitting industry to develop consensus specifications or guidelines. Equipment manufacturers are most knowledgeable about their own products and are best equipped to determine how their gas-fired heating equipment should be vented.”
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 11,328
    As far as I know

    neither UL, CSA or anyone else has listed PVC or CPVC for use for venting gas appliances.

    Most Codes require the material or device itself to be listed for the use to which you will put it.

    And if the Code so states, legally the AHJ can only come to one conclusion.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056

    I'm a bit confused. If as you stated the boiler is fired in a closet to the systems highest permissible temperature, does that mean it is only fired to provide flue gas temps less then 176? You stated that the melting point of PVC is 176 degrees. Can we both agree that stacks temps general run 20-25 degrees above return water temp? Would we not exceed this rating while making DHW or when making 180 degree water in general. Heck I could see is exceeding 176 while making 170 degree water.

    I think we could both agree that boiler returns when piped pri/sec only see their temp rise or delta-t at design day. Gotta love those recommended 20 degree rise pumps. Those flows rarely find their entire way out to the system. Generally 1/2 or more in b-lining right back into the boiler keeping delta-t's low meaning higher return water temps.

    I'm just trying to understand the basis for allowing it's use. If the maker of the product says not enough test data how does a boiler mfg know something the PVC mfg doesn't concerning it's use in applications where the temp does get above the melting point you posted.

    I know Burnham, Loch and others require the use of CPVC for a certain distance before transition to PVC and I get that. The temps at the point of the transition would be well below the 176. How do the others get away without this, for example, Triangle?

    Could we both agree that at a minimum CPVC should be used for a prescribed distance before transition to PVC?
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 220

    I will never argue with anyone that PVC has its limitations. When the potential temp limit of Sch 40 PVC is reached, then CPVC should be used. And it would be rare, but if the limit of CPVC is reached Polypropylene or approved Stainless Steel venting should be used.

    Boiler manufactures that allow PVC under certain conditions, should know and publish their venting requirements. Boilers tend to have more difficulties with the use of PVC because of the mass of the units. Its not usually the problem of temperatures while the unit is running, but when it runs up to higher operation temps then shuts off due to loss of heat signal. This off period when the zone was satisfied but the boiler and its content is at a high temp and the ambient air in the unit migrates to the venting system.

    I will use tankless water heaters for example, a residential unit even if set for 140 degrees wont see flue temps over that and will be operating in the 110 degree range.

    Manufacturers have temp sensors and can control and modulate their burners. They will use the dilution air to maintain proper flue temps. Now of course a poorly installed boiler system could struggle to hit desired max temp because they are being controlled based on return waters temps and other points which could result in not meeting design load temp operation. But this problem is rare if installation criteria is followed along with the use of outdoor reset. (The higher temps operation is during the largest emitter requirements).

    I just chime in on this subject because the uninformed and misinformed tend to use a broad paintbrush on PVC/CPVC venting and I believe it is the polypropylene sales cocktail that they were fed from a manufacturer of that product. Ever listen to these guys? their big sales pitch is how dangerous PVC is. Its a shame that there was one reported case with deaths with PVC venting, but we must remember, it wasn't the product or boiler for that matter, it was the installation. Try running Polypropylene 45' across the basement without supports and when it fails, will polypropylene venting be banned too?

    Now we can blame the use of cellular core or foam core pipe as a common denominator. This product gets lumped into the PVC classification and often gets use improperly applied to a appliance. The installation manuals say to not use it but who pays attention to manuals, right? Who is to blame for using foam core? Everyone is, the contractor, and the distributor/supplier. The distributor supplied the pipe with the equipment and the contractor used it. Why do we have foam core? That would have come from the contractor constantly shopping for a lower cost DWV pipe.

    For instance I remember when the boiler manufacturers ran around saying how dangerous PVC was. Even better I remember the tankless manufacturers such as Noritz, Rheem, and the others doing the same thing, till they offered a unit that uses it too.

    Canada dealt with this years ago, and a very profitable PVC manufacture came up with the idea. Make PVC venting a system, label all the pipe, fittings, cleaner and cement with a system number, raise the costs 400% and call it a venting system. Do we in the US need to do this to assure contractors use the correct materials?

    Again a few bad contractors could ruin it for all, but do you really expect those types of contractors to be able to install Polypropylene properly?
  • haventseenenoughhaventseenenough Member Posts: 61

    At one time plexvent was the preferred way to vent boilers and it failed miserably resulting in recalls and lawsuits. PVC venting will most likely go the same way. It melts and gets brittle over time. Also most homeowners do not see maintaining their vent pipe as part of regular maintenance.
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 220
    edited April 2013
    If you lived the Plexvent / Plexco Days-

    It wasnt the material that failed

    It was, 100% installer error

    1. Improper cutting

    2. Improper support

    3. Improper sealants

    4. Using non-UV fittings outdoors

    5. Lack of high temp connection adapters

    6. Using screws into pipe an fittings

    Sounds alot like PVC concerns?

    If all installers could read and follow directions and use common sense it wouldnt have happened.
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056

    Lived the Plex days and here ya. Still questioning the testing on PVC venting. Is it not tested to real world conditions? If 176 is the melting point we both know on DHW calls and at other conditions that number is being exceeded.

    Who decides the systems highest permissible temp and what is it? Is it arbitrary or written in stone?
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 220
    From what I know and hear

    149 degrees operation is the decided limitation. This offers a small buffer.

    Bear in mind combustion appliances differ as in some gas burner fans are pre and some are post combustion. The difference is post combustion can usually have a means of more air, dilution and post purge via the fan.

    Notice one boiler you are familiar with has a 176 high limit? Coincidence?
  • ChrisChris Member Posts: 3,056
    No. Because

    They get it and are more concerned with proper operation then cash flow ahead of product sales. I guess when your a 1.2 Billion dollar company you can afford that.. Is that 149 supply? If so, like AFUE 140/120 and not realistic. Sad part is AFUE doesn't have the opportunity to kill people.

    PVC Venting was chosen to keep the installation cost down back in the day so mfgs could sell boilers period. That is the true reason and why the manipulation of the test.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • Bob HarperBob Harper Member Posts: 732
    polymeric venting approved?

    The UL STP 103 has investigated listing polymeric venting and has approved the polypro systems primarily because it does not require a site fabricated solvent welded joint. There are other factors but that is a big one as is its higher duty temp. rating. The numbers for max. temps actually vary a bit from mfr. to mfr. so you really shouldn't apply one temp to all PVC. As for the liability angle, the PVC mfrs. have bailed on it. While none have come out and stated they approve of using their product for combustion venting, at least one flatly recommends against it. When an appliance mfr. gets their heater listed with PVC pipe, that mfr. takes on the liability for the venting in a similar way to the mfr. of an 80% furnace approves of single walled unlisted vent connector pipe. The appliance mfr. has tested their make and model appliance to their stds. and found it acceptable. If the listing agency is willing to accept their test data, then they are allowed to grant a listing mark as long as the specific brands and types of PVC, primer, cement, supports, etc. are also spelled out. The ICC has looked the other way on this issue. If a mfr. specs. for instance AL29-4c ss venting, then you can only use those brands listed to UL 1738 but the appliance mfr. and vent mfr. must together provide a suitable adapter to the vent collar. Note that one of the rationale for higher service temps, is not for ordinary use but extraordinary situations such as overfiring. While most venting is not required to withstand catatrophic failures, solid fuel venting is required to withstand a 2,100F chimney fire condition. On the other hand, B-vent is ASSumed to be suitable for CAT I gas yet we know FVIR water heater stack temps can exceed its rating as can oil exceed L-vent's ceiling. What I am most concerned with is the lack of a std. commissioning test methodology for polymeric venting. The PVC mfrs. expressly state do not test their pipe using air pressure under any circumstances so perhaps a hydrostatic test could be developed to prove the patency of joints or leak test it. on site as installed. Maybe we'll end up using test balls like plumbers do for DWV systems. 
  • SWEISWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    hydrostatic vent testing

    "perhaps a

    hydrostatic test could be developed to prove the patency of joints or

    leak test it. on site as installed. Maybe we'll end up using test balls

    like plumbers do for DWV systems."

    Makes perfect sense to me.
  • HDEHDE Member Posts: 220
    That would be 149 degree exhaust temperature I speak of

    Exhaust temp, not water temp, sorry for confusion
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