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smell fumes, new boiler, chimney cleaned

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lipwak
lipwak Member Posts: 34
Hi,

I had a new oil-burning boiler (Slant/Finn Intrepid tr-30, (TR-30-1.10 P) installed on 7/8/15. I’d smell fumes from the old one every once in awhile but I am smelling them way too often with this new one. The oil company that installed the boiler has been out here several times since the installation and adjusted things including the draft. The chimney was cleaned two days after the installation.

There were some branches very close to the chimney but those were cut way back and I shouldn’t think they would be the cause for all the fumes I am smelling now. The oil company is perplexed. One theory they offer is that atmospheric conditions are such that sometimes the fumes don’t go up and away. Some people in the company think the chimney is tall enough but others think it should be taller than the peak of the roof.

I have attached a picture of the chimney and can take pics of the boiler or better ones of the roof if that helps.

Thanks for any help.

Cheers,

John L
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Comments

  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
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    Is this for use as steam or HW? I only know steam and have TR50s. If steam, it needs a lot of skimming to get rid of the oils in the boiler and near-boiler-piping. Mine stank for quite a while, but after numerous skims it's now fine. I'm not sure of the issues with a Hot Water system.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    It's used for both. Interesting about the "skimming." The water smelled oily for a long time. Was that due to the boiler being new? The oil company were clueless as to why it smelled oily. It didn't taste oily so I drank it.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    edited September 2015
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    Tough to say from here, John, but what are the combustion air provisions for the boiler? Describe the setting the boiler is in, and where the oil tank is/oil line routing from tank to burner.
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Thanks, Bob. The boiler is in an enclosed space on the first floor of a two-story garage apartment. There is a door which can be left and pretty much always is open. The oil tank is outside the wall of the room.

    Here are some pics.




  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
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    I trust you are kidding about drinking the boiler water?

    I thought I was the only one that skimmed by taste! :*
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Well, I drank the tap water. I was assured that what came out of the boiler was safe by the oil company. Would any oil get into it? The smell lasted for a long time; only in the past week or so have I noticed that there is no oil smell anymore. Maybe the town was doing something with the water? There is construction on the street that's been going on for awhile.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Lol....rob's just busting on ya. You'd know if boiler water was breached- the relief valve would be blowing off on the boiler or the backflow preventer would be dripping. The skimming thing is for steam boilers. YYours isa hot water boiler.

    Nothing jumps out at me Re the pics, I do question even with the door open (without a doubt the room air isn't even close to supporting combustion) is there enough volume in the adjacent spaces to keep the burner happy. Whatcha got in cubic feet with the boiler room and all the completely open and connected adjacent spaces? Garage doesn't count.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    :)

    It's about 450 sq ft upstairs with the downstairs mirroring that. Downstairs is unheated with a middle wall between the two ex-garage bays. The bay with the boiler is a little smaller due to the boiler "room."

    What does "the room air isn't close to supporting combustion" mean?
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    One thing that could put boiler & pipe oil odors into the room is the air separator on top of the expansion tank. But after 2 months all the microbubbles should be removed if you were running the cir pump. Which is not run for domestic water?? I don't know, I never see these. However just firing the boiler would cause the air to perhaps rise into the air separator. There may be a cap on the air discharge that you could close for 2 days. Then open it and sniff what comes out.......just a crazy idea.

    You still probably have draft and combustion air issues. The old beast threw a lot more heat up the chimney and probably overcame any shortcomings of fresh air. IMHO
    lipwak
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    edited September 2015
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    Boiler room looks like a closet, I have no doubt that it's free air in that space would never be enough for combustion requirements. So, we need to look outward to the next space around that can maybe count in volume to make enough free air. We cannot use any garage air. Google up and go to "house of craig" for a simple check.

    Where I'm going with this is if there's not enough air for combustion, it throws the chimney draft off, and can create odors (at the least). We need to verify what exists to see if it's contributing to your problem.

    Lots of times we bring in ample air to a too small space via mechanical means like a fan, instead of trying to do it passively. Helps with fuel efficiency too.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    OK. That helps. I should mention that all of the fumes are coming from outside only when the boiler is running. So, it's coming from the chimney. Why it's worse with this new boiler I don't know. (I smell the fumes as I am near the windows. If they are closed, which isn't often in this hot summer, there is no problem.)
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    edited September 2015
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    So you are smelling the fumes as they are expelled from the chimney top. As if there's a downdraft outside and you get a whiff on occasion. Wonder if it is an environmental anomaly around the structure. Code states chimney must terminate 2 feet higher minimum than anything 10 feet from it.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Yes. it smells pretty bad or I don't smell it at all. It turns out the chimney isn't higher than the peak of the roof which is less than 10 ft away. Been that way for the 13 years I've lived here... Got a new cap back in 2006.

    What I don't get is why it smells worse and more often with this new boiler. They replaced some of the lower chimney a couple of years ago - see the shiny parts in one of the pics. It should be in even better shape since it was cleaned roughly when the new boiler was installed. I'd smell fumes only occasionally with the old boiler. This one should be burning cleaner. It's more efficient (up to 86% they say) than the 40-50 year old boiler (American Standard DP 95/DP 105) it replaced.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,438
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    Some random thoughts...

    The new boiler is more efficient. That means that the stack gas temperature is much lower. That means that the probability of the stack gas being blown down to ground level is much higher... so you smell it more.

    Did you also get new or different fuel oil? Different supplier? The level of sulphur in the oil is regulated -- but some oil does have considerably more than other oil, and that may be a problem.

    Just a couple of thoughts...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Bob Bona_4lipwakZman
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Same old oil as far as I know. Same supplier - the people who installed the boiler. They haven't made a delivery since the new unit went in. Maybe it is due to what you mention about the stack temp....
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Was thinking along those lines too, the more buoyant exhaust from the old hotter boiler may have wafted higher.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    So progress has it's costs? Is the best fix a higher chimney?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,893
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    First thing to do is get them back in there and have them re-tune the burner. That's the only component that will produce an oil fume smell outside.

    There should be a small hole- maybe 1/4-inch diameter or so- drilled into the smoke pipe between the boiler and the barometric draft regulator (swinging disc). This is for inserting the probes of a smoke tester and a digital combustion analyzer into the smoke pipe as part of the procedure for setting up the burner. If there is no hole, they never used the test equipment.

    A properly tuned oil burner will not make that smell.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    They've done that many times. Maybe they are just incompetent? It smelled a little better the first day or two after the installation. After that it's been pretty toxic.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,893
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    What were the test results?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Here are two test results, one before the install and one the day of the install. Whatever tests they did after that, they didn't leave test results on the boiler.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,893
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    They messed up the second printout so it doesn't tell us much of anything. Have them do it again.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    I'll try. Maybe they have that info if I call them up.
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Interesting that the fluegas temp is higher. Didn't Jamie Hall say it would be lower, or am I misinterpreting the info?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,893
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    The short answer is, "it depends". That old A-S had a lot more mass than the Intrepid, so it probably took a lot longer to warm up.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    lipwak
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Co2 looks a tad high (rich) especially for a 79 degree day, when that poor outdoor tank sees winter, it's going to get higher from the cold oil..so I'm questioning the burner adjustments. Not radically off but we're trying to eliminate suspects. Wonder what the over fire draft is, and is it steady? Another section of chimney would not hurt. Hard to see elevation without being there.

    You'd be doing things a favor by installing a Tiger Loop oil dearator device on the oil line. It will give the oil from that tank a chance to warm up and stabilize before getting into the burner, and it will keep full prime on the burner pump regardless of tank ambient. Odors can occur if the oil supply is "foamy" /minutely inconsistent.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    I do have a line heater on the oil line where it is outside. A few years back the boiler wouldn't run on a cold winter's day. (The old heater had stopped working so we put a new one on.) It only comes on when it's cold out though.

    I'll try to get a better picture of the chimney.
    Bob Bona_4
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Talked to the oil co. They said they left a ticket for the last reading but it isn't there. I did get this info for that latest visit which I may not have transcribed correctly. -4 draft, -2 over the fire, whatever that means.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Those are model draft readings :) I guess we will have to take them as truth!
    lipwak
  • Kakashi
    Kakashi Member Posts: 88
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    Bathroom fan or attic fan?
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Neither. The boiler does have a fan on the exhaust though.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
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    Boiler's got an inducer fan on the smoke pipe? Interesting.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
    edited September 2015
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    The fan is a Tjurnlund D-3 draft inducer. Here is a pic of it and hopefully a good-enough shot of the chimney from the outside. The pic of the fan and indoor venting cuts off just above where the boiler is.

  • RobG
    RobG Member Posts: 1,850
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    As mentioned earlier in the post, you need to ensure that you have adequate combustion air. You said in your OP that this happened with your old boiler only "not as much". Lack of combustion air will cause various problems, one of which can be carbon monoxide. Look in the manual for the combustion air and ventilation requirements for that boiler and ensure they are met. Mount a CO detector in the room as well.
    lipwakZman
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Was this fan there for the old boiler? Or just added after issues with the new boiler?
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    Thanks RobG. I'll look into that. (And thank you all. This is all very helpful.)

    I'm not sure if the fan is the same one. it could be a new version but there was one there with the old boiler.
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    edited September 2015
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    Yup there's an inducer. Very odd, the lateral pipe is only 6 feet or less, and metal chimneys typically pull like a champ. Only a -.04 at the pipe WITH the inducer, is raising some red flags. Plus adequate combustion air becomes even more of an issue with the inducer and is pinging some thoughts about the need for it.

    I know SlantFins aren't the most free breathing boiler, but I'd like to know the logic behind the inducer in your case.

    Muggy days are tough on draft btw. Would have been nice to see a Tee at the bottom of the chimney for a soot drop instead of the 90 going right in, nothing to do with this issue though.
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    I just measured things. The installation manual says there should be 18" on all sides except the front which needs 40" left clear. I have 8 1/2" on the side closest to the door (which is always ajar and has been wide open lately), 9" to the back wall, 21" to the wall to the right and 46" to the wall from the front of the boiler. The two sides under 18" could be the problem.

    I have 59" from the top of the boiler to the ceiling. The room is 54" x 68 1/2". Could they have located the boiler so that there was sufficient space on all sides? (The boiler is 25" wide looking at the front, so 18+25+18 is 61", smaller than the recommended size...) They would have had to re-route the vent certainly... It looks like the new unit is pretty much in the same spot as the old one.
  • vaporvac
    vaporvac Member Posts: 1,520
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    How much space is in the room itself? Some of those clearances are for combustibles, not air intake. Oh, I see you posted the room is 54" by 68.5!!??? That is really small, but I'm just a HO, so let's see where the pro's weigh in.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
    lipwak
  • lipwak
    lipwak Member Posts: 34
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    I went to the House of Craig WSSC Combustion Air Requirements Calculator. Put in:
    154000=Input BTUH of appliance(s):

    It gave me:
    10267=Cubic Feet of Indoor Volume
    1284=Square Feet of Indoor Area with 8' ceiling
    1027=Square Feet of Indoor Area with 10' ceiling
    154=Square In. of Free Area of One of the 2 Pass-Thru Grilles
    77=Square In. of Free Area of Opening/Duct to the Outside

    The boiler room is 4'5" wide x 5'8" wide, ceiling is 7'11" so volume is 185 cubic ft?

    The room (garage bay with lousy floor) that the boiler room is created out of is (~7' + 4'5") so ~11'5" wide, ~25' long, 7'11" ceiling too. 2044.125 cubic ft.

    Me and math don't get along so these numbers may not be good... I measured with a tape measure and my feet (11" long foot with shoes on.)

    Does this help any?