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Greatest Co threat?

In another thread, someone posted that he thought swimming pool heaters are the greatest CO danger. I do not have the statistics, and that may be correct. However I notice a new threat that is becoming more common: natural gas powered electric generators.

I am having one installed. All done, actually, other than finding a qualified plumber to run the gas line. One will do it with CSST, and I refuse to have that at all, especially outdoors. So I am waiting. Plumbers, electricians, etc., are in short supply these days as people are still recovering from storm Sandy.  I did get a qualified contractor to provide the equipment and make the installation. He got it through the zoning board, and then pulled the required permits. As he started the installation, I compared what his team was doing compared to how a neighbor's system was installed. It seems the safety code says a backup generator must be at least 5 feet away from a combustible wall. Mine is, my neighbor's is not. Also, the code is very fussy about how it is wired so power company employees do not get electrocuted when they thing the power is off, but the generator is running, etc. The meter pan must have a plastic plate saying there is a backup generator connected. Mine does, my neighbor's does not. The main disconnect has to have a plate saying not only that there is a backup generator connected, but state where it is. And so on.

It seems to me that the neighbor either installed it himself and never went to the zoneing board and never got it inspected, or he hired a seriously incompetent contractor. Also, the generator is less than 5 feet from a window that can be opened, and that is not code around here.

Who wants to bet there is a working CO detector in the room with the window less than 5 feet from that generator?


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,270
    Backup generators

    surely are a problem.  I hadn't really thought about the CO aspect -- most of the ones around here are either gasoline or diesel, where the exhaust at least smells which is sort of a warning.  But natural gas?  You bet they could be a CO problem.  A big one.  And as Jean-David mentions, they are also an electrical hazard.  There are a whole bunch of ways in which a standby generator can be hooked up, almost all of which are either wrong or dangerous.

    Bottom line: if you are not a competent electrician yourself, versed in break before make transfer switches, full grounding, solid neutrals, and other such esoterica, you shouldn't even begin to think about wiring a generator.  And yet... I see them for sale in the big box store, and homeowners resorting to hookups of such wonderful ingenuity as to test one's credulity.

    Oh well...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Jim Davis_3
    Jim Davis_3 Member Posts: 578
    natural gas generators

    Natural gas does burn much cleaner than gasoline and does give people the ability to actually tune the equipment like any natural gas appliance or even propane ones.  I guess the gasoline ones could ber tuned but apparentlky no one knows how.   Natural gas does put out a smell if it is running bad enough.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,820
    edited June 2013
    Five feet from a window?

    This proves once again that you can't fix stupid!

    But I'll say gas-fired kitchen stoves are probably the worst, because they are just thrown in without any kind of testing (unless a company like mine does the installation) and the combustion products are vented into the room rather than to the outside. I've seen CO readings over 2500 PPM air-free from ovens- and a few adjustments solve the problem.

    Again, you can't fix stupid.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
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