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Navien Vent Blamed for CO Poisoning Deaths

flat_twinflat_twin Posts: 203Member
On May 2nd a family of four was found dead in their home after a wellness check by the police. CO poisoning was suspected. This is near Sunbury Ohio, about 20 miles south of me. Today details of the investigation were reported by local news channels. Sadly, the signs of illness were there days prior to May 2nd but no one recognized them as exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide and there was no CO detector in the home.
The exhaust vent on the Navien heater came apart, leaking CO into the home. It had been installed recently by the homeowner who owned and operated a construction company.
Just days after this happened, a similar incident with a Navien vent happened in a neighboring county. Fortunately the family got medical help and survived.

https://www.10tv.com/article/water-heater-blame-carbon-monoxide-deaths-genoa-township-family-investigation-finds-2019-may

Comments

  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,037Member
    Sad.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,977Member
    Interesting that no one wants to take a stand on what caused this. "Further Investigation"... who is doing the investigation? How long is it expected to take?
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Posts: 2,406Member
    "Vent blamed" may be a more appropriate title; or "poor installation caused"
    Steve Minnich
    Tell me I can't, and I'll show you I can.
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,789Member
    Very sad.
    Can't blame Navien if the equipment was not installed properly
  • flat_twinflat_twin Posts: 203Member

    Very sad.
    Can't blame Navien if the equipment was not installed properly

    Absolutely. The coincidence of two similar vent failures days apart and both by Navien was given more focus on the news than the fact that it was a self installation.

  • GWGW Posts: 3,403Member
    Maybe the Navien retailer/wholesaler will get a phone call from the lawyers
    Gary Wilson
    Wilson Services, Inc
    Northampton, MA
    www.wilsonph.com
    [email protected]
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,172Member
    edited May 15
    > @flat_twin said:
    > Very sad.
    > Can't blame Navien if the equipment was not installed properly
    >
    > Absolutely. The coincidence of two similar vent failures days apart and both by Navien was given more focus on the news than the fact that it was a self installation.

    Any word if the construction guy might have installed the Navien in the neighboring county also? His wife's friends sister or something?
    Seems a little isolated (2 in the same general area). And assuming no other incidents of that kind or recalls, then...
    I'm not much for coincidences.
  • Bob HarperBob Harper Posts: 813Member
    Even if it is proven installation failure they will try to prove "Failure to Warn" in the instructions from the mfr. as well as breach of duty to inspect by a competent authority. Not that a municipal inspector is any guarantee. Also, we don't have a reliable test protocol for CAT III and IV venting for commissioning so inspection alone does not guarantee leak-free joints. Still, its a shame no low level CO monitors, which could have saved them.
  • DZoroDZoro Posts: 761Member
    Wonder how long it will be before we see a mandatory connected CO detector hard wired to the boilers? Internal and external....
    D
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 5,789Member
    @DZoro
    They are mandatory in Mass but are not wired to shut down the boiler or furnace. They can be battery. 1 located near the boiler and 1 on every other habitable level
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 753Member
    Sad. Terrible shame. Every time I hear about something like this it reminds me of the deaths that happened in Suffield Ct. back in the early 1990's. Was virtually the same thing.
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 758Member
    I can't blame the manufacture if the installer doesn't follow the instructions, codes, best industry practices!
  • delta Tdelta T Posts: 750Member
    @DZoro @EBEBRATT-Ed I hope a CO detector designed to go off at more than say 500 ppm in the exhaust for more than 60 seconds that will shut down the appliance is something that we will see in the future. I think that feature would prevent this kind of event. I mean, realistically, I rarely ever have equipment that puts out more than 75 ppm (usually 50 ppm or less) and I doubt that would kill anyone even if the vent was completely disconnected. To kill a whole family, I feel like this thing had to be dumping out 2000+ for a while. Maybe @captainco could weigh in?

    A terrible and absolutely avoidable tragedy. This is why I have such an issue with the big box stores and online stores selling to people who have no licences. Hell, my local Home Depot sells CSST to anyone who wants to buy it. Talk about liability! and here we have no local inspector for the city, and one state inspector who inspects 7 COUNTIES. There is no way he alone can effectively police this stuff.
  • Leon82Leon82 Posts: 615Member
    edited May 16
    They could design one with a set of normally open and closed contacts and if it reaches a set level it could close or open them.

    You could tie it into the low water cutoff or relay circuit on older equipment and new boilers can have a dedicated switch. Some like knight boilers have an extra set for verifying an outdoor louver has opened before it will fire
  • pecmsgpecmsg Posts: 758Member
    Leon82 said:

    They could design one with a set of normally open and closed contacts and if it reaches a set level it could close or open them.



    You could tie it into the low water cutoff or relay circuit on older equipment and new boilers can have a dedicated switch. Some like knight boilers have an extra set for verifying an outdoor louver has opened before it will fire

    and in this Walmart society whos going to pay for it?

    There are enough rules on the books, enforce what's there!
  • ZmanZman Posts: 4,882Member
    Why do we think we can get people to install and maintain an interlocked boiler CO detector when most folks won't even keep batteries in the detectors they were required to install by code.
    I can't believe how many houses I go to where the CO detectors are removed.
    I wish the actual technical details of these cases were made public. There is a lot to be learned...
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,172Member
    Rheem and others have a flammable vapor sensor on power vent water heaters. Seems like it wouldn't be too hard for R&D to make it happen for a similar low level CO sensor.
  • Total1Total1 Posts: 44Member
    I have a combination CO / Smoke detector with lithium battery back up , in every bedroom and on every floor . You can;t ever be too safe . They are all connected together one goes off , all do and they even give a verbal warning of the Co level ....
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Posts: 2,622Member
    Not that a municipal inspector is any guarantee.


    My mod-con uses PVC for air intake and for exhaust. I had several inspectors. The exhaust pipe and the intake pipe both hat purple primer on it, but the installation crew forgot to apply the cement after priming the pipe, so a year or so later, the exhaust pipe leaked so much condensate that it flooded the electronics control board. It took quite a while to figure out where the water was coming from. The inspector did not realize there was no glue used to connect the PVC pipe.

    The CSST gas pipe was neither bonded nor grounded. It was in plain sight. The inspector checked nothing. He did get out of his car and looked at it.

    Another inspector did not inspect where the condensate went. The contractor said there were only two ways to do it, and one inspector allowed only one way, and the other inspector allowed only the other way. So the contractor just ran it through the wall and dumped the condensate on the ground. That is not code around here. The contractor said he would wait for the inspector to fail it and ask the inspector how he wanted it done, and would then do it that way. The inspector never looked at where that pipe went.

    I do not have much confidence in inspectors around here.
  • Leon82Leon82 Posts: 615Member
    > @pecmsg said:
    > They could design one with a set of normally open and closed contacts and if it reaches a set level it could close or open them.
    >
    >
    >
    > You could tie it into the low water cutoff or relay circuit on older equipment and new boilers can have a dedicated switch. Some like knight boilers have an extra set for verifying an outdoor louver has opened before it will fire
    >
    > and in this Walmart society whos going to pay for it?
    >
    > There are enough rules on the books, enforce what's there!

    While true, they aren't interested in enforcing. They just make more and more laws so people feel good.
  • DZoroDZoro Posts: 761Member
    I believe a built in CO analyzer to sense exhaust and one for cabinet/exterior should be implemented.
    If there is too much CO in the exhaust something is wrong with the boiler and it should be addressed. Too much CO is a sign of improper combustion, the boiler needs attention. Interlock the boiler with a error code.
    I have found too many boilers with holes in the exhaust, especially boilers with aluminum H/E and exhaust drains. Thank goodness that the HO's have kept the covers on the boiler and those boilers killed themselves, via reinjection of it's own exhaust. But there is going to come a day that a HO will leave the cover off ( because the boiler runs better ), and the results are not going to be good.
    I'm surprised the mfr's have not changed from the aluminum H/E.
    They're well aware of the issues that there boilers are having. Seem to shrug their shoulders and say here is a new HE, we now put a coating on it.
    PS make sure the HO has it cleaned regularly but don't use a brush or anything on it for 5 years...…
    Well wow, then what after 5 years you don't care, go ahead and use a brush on the H/E.
    It's a tragedy waiting to happen.
  • FranklinDFranklinD Posts: 398Member
    The inspector who signed off on my new boiler install 5 years ago thought it was a forced air furnace. Right up til the end as he was doing the paperwork, even after he had looked at the backflow preventer to make sure it was there (that’s really the only requirement they have here), he still thought it was a hot air system. Then, to put the icing on the cake so to speak, he stuck his finger in the fresh-air intake outside. The fresh air “mushroom” that comes with Burnham ESC boilers is a small tin thing, about 5-6” in diameter, with about a 3/4 opening all the way around. He actually GOT HIS FINGER STUCK in it and bent the bejesus out of the thing to extract his digit (which was then bleeding profusely). He signed off in it, tossed the paper at me (spotted with blood) and ran for his truck. Did not instill much confidence - and no, he didn’t look for any smoke or CO detectors though I do have them. There was a spot on his checklist for them but it was left blank.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
    Lover of Old Homes & Gravity Hot Water Systems
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 12,977Member
    Some years ago, @Dave Yates (PAH) had a character called "Hector the Inspector" and a whole bunch of stories about him- this thread sounds a lot like that.
    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.
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/all-steamed-up-inc
  • HomerJSmithHomerJSmith Posts: 524Member
    I, personally, require a CO detector on any furnace that is over 15 yrs old and replace a CO detector over 8 yrs old or I won't do the job. I carry one with me. $35 is cheap insurance and regrettably I have read about these tragedies for years. With the new internal batteries they last 10 yrs. It's a liability issue. You know who the lawyers sue, anyone within 10 miles walking distance.
  • cgdelzellcgdelzell Posts: 22Member
    It was converted from natural to propane, they may have changed orifice plate, but not flip switch to tell machine it is running on propane. no permit was pulled. but local code enforcement inspector said it looked like a code compliant installation. code compliant does not kill four people and three dogs.
  • IronmanIronman Posts: 5,037Member
    It's all about the money:
    The homeowner doesn't wanna pay a competent contractor the $$ he gets for doing it right and performing a combustion analysis so he finds a distributor or big box store who will sell direct to him. Or, he finds the cheapest contractor he can who refuses to get proper training and won't purchase a combustion analyzer because "it's too expensive". The manufacture won't mandate that the distributor only sell to licensed contractors who have been certified on the equipment because neither wants to lose a sale, and so they sell it to any warm body that walks through the door. Then, just to make sure that they've covered the DIY market, the manufacturer sells it to the big box store, also.

    It's greed and the ignorance that goes with it that caused these tragedies.
    Bob Boan


    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
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