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CO from Propane Water Heater Killed Vacationing Family?

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margsuarez
margsuarez Member Posts: 54
edited April 2018 in THE MAIN WALL
Triangle Tube Prestige Solo 110 with Trimax Controls (3x oversized)
950 sqft of WarmBoard on 3 floors, 5 loops acting as one zone

Comments

  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,468
    edited April 2018
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    I heard about that on the news. How tragic. CO detectors saves lives. I always recommend one on any furnace older than 15 yrs. and I carry one with me and offer to install it.
    SuperTech
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
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    :'(
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
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    This was in Mexico where they have few if any regulations. “There was a leak, and it was coming right from the laundry room,” he said through an interpreter. “The laundry room had no ventilation whatsoever.”

    Now the question is will they inspect all the other units?
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    Yeah but in Mexico they aren't saying it was CO, they are saying it was the actual gas itself. I can't imagine that much gas spilling into living space and no one smelled it, or it didn't ignite.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

    GBartSuperTech
  • captainco
    captainco Member Posts: 796
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    It does say they were overcome by propane not CO. If it was propane there would have had to be something in the condo that would have ignited it. CO ignorance is universal,
    GBartDan FoleySuperTech
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    edited April 2018
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    thanks for pointing that out

    still, will they inspect the other units, all built the same way at the same time............simple Vulcan logic
  • margsuarez
    margsuarez Member Posts: 54
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    This link has a photo where they believe the leak came from - not sure if it is pointing to the gas line or the vent - for this reason I did not put this originally under Carbon Monoxide Awareness...

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/rusty-water-heater-blame-iowa-familys-death-mexico/story?id=54254218
    Triangle Tube Prestige Solo 110 with Trimax Controls (3x oversized)
    950 sqft of WarmBoard on 3 floors, 5 loops acting as one zone
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
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    Once again terrible reporting, looks like a joke of a flex for exhaust and tape around a broken section, my guess CO.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
    edited April 2018
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    Right off the bat, those of us that trained under Jim D knew it was CO spillage NOT the fuel itself
    Because it would have ignited at some point. This is why Matt Jr s dorm room has a high sensitive CO MONITOR, and both my wife and I carry the small yellow ones that first responders wear, especially away in vacation. Mad Dog
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
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    For some reason I have seen quite a few propane water heaters with no flue pipe venting
    Right in to the space. My guess is that the propane suppliers are not plumbers and have no training on flue products & combustion. Conversely, I have seen plenty of poorly Vented or falling off flue pipe on natural water heaters, but never one venting right in to the space. Even a 1st year plumbing apprentice knows you gotta vent a HWH Mad Dog
    SuperTechGBart
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
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    I have been in several basements with a propane water heater just sitting in the corner with no flue connection whatsoever. Not even close to a chimney. "Been that way for years" is the standard response..... I can tell right away when opening basement door.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • the_donut
    the_donut Member Posts: 374
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    Might not smell gas if supply doesn’t have ethyl mercaptan in it.
    SuperTechJUGHNE
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,622
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    Sad. And sadder because with just a little attention it could have been prevented.

    Sadly, most people have no idea how dangerous combustion equipment can be if not installed or maintained properly.

    I am an electrician as well and the same goes for electrical work. people turn on a switch and the lights go on..they assume everything is ok.

    It's not ok

    Most of this equipment operates with no problem for years.

    Until you take it for granted
    SuperTechSolid_Fuel_Man
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
    edited April 2018
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    > @Solid_Fuel_Man said:
    > I have been in several basements with a propane water heater just sitting in the corner with no flue connection whatsoever. Not even close to a chimney. "Been that way for years" is the standard response..... I can tell right away when opening basement door.

    Wow.

    I have seen some bad venting. Stuff with rotten flue pipe, holes you can put your fist through that made me report the condition of the equipment to the fire department.
    But I have never seen a water heater with no flue connection whatsoever. That's incredible.

    Several?! Was this seen outside of the U.S? I would like to think that even the most ignorant, caveman, D.I.Y installer would know that combustion byproducts need to be vented to the atmosphere.
    GBart
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
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    Hi, You'll find a few things with this one, but it's well insulated! :|

    Yours, Larry
    SuperTechSolid_Fuel_Man
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
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    @Larry Weingarten

    That can't really have been operating like that....I can't comprehend the butchery. Why install any smoke pipe or a T&P?
    Solid_Fuel_Man
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
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    I agree Ed. I find Most folks see more value in putting their money in to the pretty things:
    Cars, furniture, clothes, landscaping. They come to appreciate the mechanicals only after a mishap that causes them major damage and money. I'll give you an example. I spent over an hour last week on an "estimate" to replace
    About 90 feet of wet return. I engaged the elderly man who was a retired airplane mechanic in pleasant banter while pointing out that the boiler's #67 LWCO looked like it hasn't been flushed in years and the water heater flue pipe was not fully connected to the chimney breech. He told me no one ever pointed these things out and that the flush valve on the #67 hadn't worked in years. He wanted to change the
    Subject I guess and starting taking me on a tour of his house and pride & joys.

    Just then his house phone rang and I could hear it was another plumber who wanted to come give him a price right then. "I'm right down the block, can I come now?" It was funny because he panicked and told the guy he wasn't home! Ha ha. I heard guy through the phone. So, I reviewed everything he needed, pointed out safety issues again and gave him a very fair price on the spot and he said he "would let me know."

    I waited a few days and followed up. He told me
    " the other guy took care of it, and he said YOU were making a big deal over nothing."
    I lost the job because I was diligent, honest and forthcoming about the hazards instead of just giving him what he asked for (race to the bottom, what THEY told him he needed)

    I wasn't touching the returns with out fixing the two safety issues, so I lost the job. I know in the past, other guys have to told me to just do the job they want and the other issues are their problem. Not taking on that liability. For the longest time, I have pre screened leads and don't do free estimates but this was an elderly gentleman and was one town over. By the way, he showed me his boat and fully restored 57 Belair in the garage and having his kitchen remodeled, but no money for life safety issues! It
    Really turns me off how hard it is to be in the Plumbing and heating business, glad I work for someone else during tbe day. No more free estimates for anyone, wasted an hour of my life ain't getting any younger. Mad Dog
    SuperTechSolid_Fuel_Man
  • the_donut
    the_donut Member Posts: 374
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    > @SuperTech said:
    > @Larry Weingarten
    >
    > That can't really have been operating like that....I can't comprehend the butchery. Why install any smoke pipe or a T&P?

    Happens all the time. People think, hey I can cut a pipe and put a sharkbite on it. Its only 2 connections. Why pay a plumber?

    Had a retail tenant decide to replace their water heater. Maintenance only comes in when requested for those guys, they keep to themselves. I saw them unload a regular natural draft water heater and pull out a Power vent. Took a look at their flue. Pvc. I told them that's not the right type. Went back amd forth with them.

    Tipping scale was when I told them powervent has higher heat recovery and is more efficient. They didnt care if they'd melt the vent (which I would have to replace by tearing holes in 2 different apartments above). All they cared about was more hot water faster.

    Also they had no clue what a dielectric union was. The old install was burnt by I assume acetylene and used 3/4" female copper. As you can imagine there was some pretty corrosion at the iron nipple.
  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
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    yeah me too, went to a home in the 80's for a cleaning., I was in a hurry as I was vacuuming the furnace and when I went to put the smoke pipe back up I started looking for the water heater section.........wha???....where is it?? then I started second guessing myself, woah, there isn't,wasn't any? ever??

    So I asked the elderly lady how she has been feeling and of course not well and they couldn't figure what was wrong with her, headaches, nausea, flu like.........so opened the can of worms.
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,646
    edited April 2018
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    I've seen 3, yes 3 propane water heaters that had no vent pipe ever connected. I think it was common practice in the 60s. But most if not all of those have failed and were most likely replaced with electric which actually doesn't need a flue connection!

    All 3 BTW were in the US.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    GBart
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
    edited April 2018
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    I have seen a LP WH in the mud room of a farm house.
    The 3" vent only went up thru the ceiling into the fairly tight attic space.
    Owner said it had been that way 30 years or so.

    Elderly lady had one in her cellar, low ceiling was slightly scorched above. Outside cellar door and no leaky windows.
    I noticed it when viewing the house after the lady went to the nursing home.
    Son in law install, he would always tell you how "skilled" he was.
    She had went 70+ years in her first house without hot water.
    SuperTechGBart
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 2,186
    edited April 2018
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    Son in law install, he would always tell you how "skilled" he was.

    I usually try to be as polite as possible but I don't think I would have held back anything that came to mind if this idiot told me he installed a water heater like that.

    Is it possible that he did it intentionally because he couldn't stand his mother in law?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,622
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    @Mad Dog
    Unfortunately that's what happens when you try and do the right thing. Sucks
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,335
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    Hi @SuperTech, That water heater was indeed running. I essentially told the homeowner that I wasn't leaving until I made it safe and he let me fix it. Sometimes they let me get away with doing the right thing ;)

    Yours, Larry
    SuperTech
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,894
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    Mad Dog said:

    I agree Ed. I find Most folks see more value in putting their money in to the pretty things:

    Cars, furniture, clothes, landscaping. They come to appreciate the mechanicals only after a mishap that causes them major damage and money. I'll give you an example. I spent over an hour last week on an "estimate" to replace

    About 90 feet of wet return. I engaged the elderly man who was a retired airplane mechanic in pleasant banter while pointing out that the boiler's #67 LWCO looked like it hasn't been flushed in years and the water heater flue pipe was not fully connected to the chimney breech. He told me no one ever pointed these things out and that the flush valve on the #67 hadn't worked in years. He wanted to change the

    Subject I guess and starting taking me on a tour of his house and pride & joys.



    Just then his house phone rang and I could hear it was another plumber who wanted to come give him a price right then. "I'm right down the block, can I come now?" It was funny because he panicked and told the guy he wasn't home! Ha ha. I heard guy through the phone. So, I reviewed everything he needed, pointed out safety issues again and gave him a very fair price on the spot and he said he "would let me know."



    I waited a few days and followed up. He told me

    " the other guy took care of it, and he said YOU were making a big deal over nothing."

    I lost the job because I was diligent, honest and forthcoming about the hazards instead of just giving him what he asked for (race to the bottom, what THEY told him he needed)



    I wasn't touching the returns with out fixing the two safety issues, so I lost the job. I know in the past, other guys have to told me to just do the job they want and the other issues are their problem. Not taking on that liability. For the longest time, I have pre screened leads and don't do free estimates but this was an elderly gentleman and was one town over. By the way, he showed me his boat and fully restored 57 Belair in the garage and having his kitchen remodeled, but no money for life safety issues! It

    Really turns me off how hard it is to be in the Plumbing and heating business, glad I work for someone else during tbe day. No more free estimates for anyone, wasted an hour of my life ain't getting any younger. Mad Dog

    Yeah, but you won't have to deal with the lawyers when someone gets hurt or killed either.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
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    Yes. Or the guilt! Mad Dog
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    The "skilled son in law" has since moved away and the lady's has been sold and remodeled.

    However the farmhouse (many miles south of me) with the attic vented water heater remained. A few years later the farmer had his wife pick up a WH T-couple 3 days in a row. He called me on the last attempt.
    He said the pilot would not stay on. I said you may need a new gas valve. He replied that this was a new gas valve.
    But.....4 days before, he had changed it, turned the gas back on and went to light it and had a gas leak on the copper flare connection right under the control valve. It ignited also and by the time he got outside to the only shut off for the entire farm which was on the tank......(100' away for safety purposes of course)....the flame burned for a few seconds and now could he could not keep the pilot on.

    Does the installation instructions mention anything about a "one time ECO"?? He read that part to me over the phone and I told him the valve is now no good because it has been subject to a fire.

    Why didn't you just get a new LP water heater when the original valve quit?? A new LP WH valve was about 2/3 cost of new WH.
    "Because this one has been so good for 40 years!" he replied.
    He never called back, I don't know what he did, but he was so stubborn old school that he may have found a way to bypass the open ECO.

    Money was saved by not having a gas stop at the WH or venting the WH thru the roof.

    I believe years later, both he and his wife passed away at home from Alzheimer's. They were nearly 90.

    Has there ever been a mention of low level CO attributed to that disease?

    I have to point out that here in the rural area there is no authority you report these situations to concerning LP.
    LP suppliers don't want to lose a good paying customer, they want to mind their own business. They may becoming a little more cautious but not as much as they might be required to.

    If NG then the supplier may do something or check the equipment.
    For LP you can inform/suggest to the homeowner that there are possible dangers. "But it has worked OK for 30 years"
    Solid_Fuel_ManSuperTech
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,457
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    I had an on demand water heater that had for its vent a floor grille directly above it. They used it to heat the bathroom; Got rid of that setup right away.
    Another one was a vented tank style in an upstairs clothes closet, which is a no-no in itself. However, it also had about 5 inches of gap above the drafthood before hitting the flue, not in a drain pan, no earthquake strap, t&p without drain line, and the flexible gas line had the valve after the flex. I removed that whole setup after taking photos ( can't find them now) and we wound up putting in an lp boiler with an indirect.
    Rick
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
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    Box store & internet cowboys can install them in a jiff! Why they even give classes on Saturdays and good old YouTube will get you to the rodeo!
    Mad Dog
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,651
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  • Shalom
    Shalom Member Posts: 165
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    Regarding unvented propane indoors, I used to work for the "blue" pharmacy chain (now been bought out by the "green" chain, you know who I'm talking about) as an overnight pharmacist in the 24 hour store. One night a week they would bring in a crew to clean the store. This one guy would come in with a propane-powered floor buffer. It had an electric starter, he'd plug it in and then yank the plug out once it fired, and then spend the next 45 minutes going up and down the aisles polishing the floors. By the time he was done, the store (which wasn't all that well ventilated to start with) was full of exhaust from that machine, plus whatever propane remained unburnt and came out the tailpipe. I would have to shut the pharmacy department and go outside for fresh air, it gave me a headache and not just from the noise. (And if that wasn't enough CO for him, he'd take a smoke break afterwards...)
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
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    In High School I worked at that Chain Lumber Headquarters and we used to drive those propane powered fork lifts. I used to ask the older guys and then the boss if it was kosher.
    "Stop being a pain in the A--!....keep it up they'll get rid of you! Who are you, OSHA man??"
    It wasn't a very big warehouse and in the winter with the doors down, it was really bad.
    Mad Dog
    GBart
  • Jean-David Beyer
    Jean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,666
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    "But I have never seen a water heater with no flue connection whatsoever. That's incredible."

    I have; in the 1940s in Buffalo, NY. The homeowner was a (steam) locomotive engineer by trade. But he had a gas fired hot water heater and where the flue pipe should have been connected, he had some loose steel wool inserted, but no flue pipe. I asked why, and he said he did not want to waste the heat in winter. I was in, perhaps, sixth grade. So I could not say he was wrong. But I sure could now.
    SuperTech
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,106
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    Ha ha Jean, come to think of it I saw things like that when I was a kid too. We were still figuring things out in life, knew something didnt look right, but didn't have the exact knowledge or terms or confidence to point it out. I was in a really nice non-chain Hunting, fishing, camping store last year in rural Pennsylvania. They had a newly installed Mod Con on the Wall by the front door powering the radiant slab. It was pretty neat, but the relief valve was facing straight out ready to blast the public at roughly eye height. The relief was not piped out.

    My family cringed and fled for the car, as I quietly pointed it out to the gal at the counter and then the annoyed and suspicious manager.
    I don't know if they fixed it, but I knew better and someone hadda be the messenger. Mad Dog
    Jean-David Beyer