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Boiler, High Carbon monoxide levels, need info ...

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Donny039
Donny039 Member Posts: 21
edited November 2019 in THE MAIN WALL
Hi, So I inherited my dads home April 2019, he had his boiler system checked and serviced March 2019 and everything was good. My son has been staying there since I inherited it. Today my son was having trouble getting the boiler to heat the house, he called out a random company to check the boiler system. The service company said the boiler isnt heating the house due to a pump issue BUT they also said the boiler is giving huge carbon monoxide levels and informed that it isnt safe to use.

The service company is saying that the boiler is leaking carbon monoxide from the jacket and that is nearly 1,000 ppm in the flue.

I have been reading some posts here and I see that its possible that the boiler although old possibly may not need to be replaced. (I dont know the year of the boiler but my son said he see's some info on it that may indicate 1962 so possibly its over 50 years old?

I could really use some info, please and thanks in advance!
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  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
    edited November 2019
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  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,244
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    It's time for a new boiler, Donny039. Don't fix a boiler of that design at that age. The CO reading should be below 100 ppm in the flue.
    Contact John "JohnNY" Cataneo, NYC Master Plumber, Lic 1784
    Consulting & Troubleshooting
    Heating in NYC or NJ.
    Classes
    Donny039
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    It’s true that a 50 year old boiler may be nearing the end of its useful life, however, when first installed, it was probably not leaking Co, so what has changed?
    It would be better to find out why this one is not functioning properly, before replacing it.
    Is the flue blocked, or has the house been tightened up so much, that there is no fresh combustion air coming in?—NBC
    ZmanDonny039
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,600
    edited November 2019
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    Without the temperature reading, it is hard to tell if you hit 1000 ppm on ignition or while flame is established. One photo has 985 ppm, another has 4 ppm with 985 being max reading. In any case, 50 is a ripe old age for any appliance.
    DZoroDonny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
    edited November 2019
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    That seems really HIGH to me. Seems like a normal furnace could be put in cheaper than that? Its a small 825sqft 2 bedroom house. It's on a slab so ducting would have to be put in
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 884
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    We do not discuss pricing on this forum. As to installing forced air, you will sacrifice comfort usually. I would stick with hot water, you have a small house and that boiler is likely way oversized. Make sure whatever you do, the contractor performs a heat loss on the house first to size the boiler. DO NOT let them size the new appliance based on what was there, or the length of the baseboard (I am assuming this is a baseboard system). A proper heat loss involves measuring the area of all the walls, windows, doors, etc and the insulation values of your house. It takes a couple hours. You can do it yourself to check the numbers for some sanity, but I doubt you need more than 25,000 btu/hr.
    Donny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
    edited November 2019
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    It’s true that a 50 year old boiler may be nearing the end of its useful life, however, when first installed, it was probably not leaking Co, so what has changed?
    It would be better to find out why this one is not functioning properly, before replacing it.
    Is the flue blocked, or has the house been tightened up so much, that there is no fresh combustion air coming in?—NBC

    My dad had the boiler serviced March 2019 and I would assume everything was fine then. The boiler was used up until May 2019 and the house hasnt needed heat until now and nothing has been done to the house. Your right what has changed?? How do I figure out what has changed is a even better question?? Checking the flue and chimney for blockage is a good call and I think first on my list. I mean to be honest I wouldnt even be able to replace this boiler right now, I would have to hope the house would sit through winter without pipes freezing, slab cracking, etc.. until I figured this all out. Not something I was prepared for.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,600
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    If the house has to sit through a winter without heat, close main water valve, drain hot and cold water pipes from lowest point possible, add RV antifreeze to your toilet tanks, close tank fill valves and flush.

    If you can install a heat trace to any water supply pipe behind main cut off valve, so much the better.

    I have an inherited house in a place that get's into the teens for weeks but I don't heat it. I have to deal with cracks in the walls but that is inexpensive compared to a fuel bill for an empty house. I personally do not like appliances running if I'm not around.
    Donny039
  • nicholas bonham-carter
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    Did the previous service person, engaged by your father, notice anything amiss?
    Use the SlantFin app to calculate your heat loss, so you know what size any replacement should be.
    I would think that you can keep it running until it begins to leak, which may or may not be years away. A replacement however will be more efficient, but in this case, if sweeping the chimney, or making a fresh air intake will fix the immediate problem, then that would be enough to get through the winter.—NBC
    Donny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    Thank you everyone for your input on this, I do appreciate it! As far as I know and I would assume that when my dad had this boiler system last checked service there were no major issues like this. I now understand that its a old boiler and likely due for replacement but its not something I was prepared for so I think my best case scenario at this point would be to figure out and correct the high carbon monoxide issue in the flue, replace the pump, etc.. and try to get some more time out of this currant boiler while I prepare myself for a new boiler system in the near future. ..... To clean out the flue / chimney, what kind of company do I hire to do that? or is that something that might be a DIY job?

  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
    edited November 2019
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  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,696
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    Several people have asked you to refrain from mentioning prices. You can go back & edit your posts by clicking on the black gear that appears on the right of the title bar of each or your posts & remove the numbers. You can use any modern graphic editor to black out the numbers on the receipt you posted, or take a picture of it with the numbers covered up.

    I know it's annoying, but there's too much variance in pricing from area to area for it to be useful to discuss here. If you're concerned about it, get quotes from several local contractors.

  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    I wasnt trying to find anyone here to do any work, or get quotes from or anything like that, just information. I edited posts. Thanks!
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,940
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    So they didn't bother diagnosing why there was rollout, they just stopped there and tried to sell you a new boiler?
    Donny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    mattmia2 said:

    So they didn't bother diagnosing why there was rollout, they just stopped there and tried to sell you a new boiler?

    Yeah! I didnt even know there was an issue or that the boiler was getting checked then the report doesnt give me much details other than replace your boiler. I have been waiting on the service guy to call me back so I can see what he says ....
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    From looking at that closet and what would have to be removed to just pop the top for cleaning, I would guess it has not been cleaned in decades.

    Only an old school guy like me would attempt to clean it up.

    I have done that to something of this vintage only to have a problem again in 2 years because of bad chimney draw.
    Had to replace with sidewall vented MonCon.
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    How difficult is it to install a new boiler, like for instance I have one delivered from home depot, is this something the average DIY'r can do or should I find an installer?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,949
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    > @Donny039 said:
    > How difficult is it to install a new boiler, like for instance I have one delivered from home depot, is this something the average DIY'r can do or should I find an installer?

    To screw it up is easy. To do it right takes a lot of knowledge, experience and skilled labor.

    Nothing Home Cheapo or Blows will have!
    Donny039
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,949
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    Is that boiler installed in a closet or closet under a stair to the 2 nd floor?
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,940
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    There is a lot to it. First you have to learn a fair bit of pipefitting, once you are decent at that you have to learn about the different devices on a hydronic system and how to properly apply them. It isn't impossible but there is a lot to learn and if you don't have some plumbing and metalworking background it will be tough.

    If it were me I would find someone who can properly clean and tune up that boiler and run it another year or 2 while you save up for a replacement and hope it doesn't spring a leak. I had assumed it has been cleaned when it was serviced a year or whatever ago, if the burner and the boiler have not been cleaned and adjusted in years that is likely your combustion problem. Like others have said, some day it will leak and that will be an emergency. That day could be tomorrow, that day could be 20 years from now. With some luck a tune up from an old timer that knows how to service those boilers should buy you some time.
    Donny039
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,635
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    Donny039 said:

    How difficult is it to install a new boiler, like for instance I have one delivered from home depot, is this something the average DIY'r can do or should I find an installer?

    It's really something you need an installer for. Not so much for the actual work -- a really good DIY person can do the work, though you absolutely have to know how to read things like circuit diagrams and other plans, and you have to be competent in basic plumbing. But that's only up to a point. You would be very well advised to have a competent professional (and I mean competent, not the sales person who came out to help your son) hook up the gas (I assume gas from the draught hood?) and adjust the burner properly. That is not a home handyman job. On the whole you'll not save that much by getting a pro. do it. If you actually get a pro...

    Also, if you work with a installer, you can build a good relationship with him or her for the future routine maintenance - or emergency service calls -- on a piece of equipment which they put in. Always works better...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Donny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    pecmsg said:

    Is that boiler installed in a closet or closet under a stair to the 2 nd floor?

    It's in a small closet in the kitchen, single floor house 825sq ft
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,949
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    A qualified contractor can come up with several options on how to replace that unit.
    With less then 1000 sq ft your looking at a small boiler / mod con
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    mattmia2 said:

    There is a lot to it. First you have to learn a fair bit of pipefitting, once you are decent at that you have to learn about the different devices on a hydronic system and how to properly apply them. It isn't impossible but there is a lot to learn and if you don't have some plumbing and metalworking background it will be tough.

    If it were me I would find someone who can properly clean and tune up that boiler and run it another year or 2 while you save up for a replacement and hope it doesn't spring a leak. I had assumed it has been cleaned when it was serviced a year or whatever ago, if the burner and the boiler have not been cleaned and adjusted in years that is likely your combustion problem. Like others have said, some day it will leak and that will be an emergency. That day could be tomorrow, that day could be 20 years from now. With some luck a tune up from an old timer that knows how to service those boilers should buy you some time.

    Thanks! Yes thats what I would like to do is try to get some more time out of it if I can find someone to tune it up and get it working safely. I guess I'm just looking at my options right now, and you guys are right to much could go wrong with DIY so no matter if its a tune up or new install I will have a professional do it.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    The flue vent pipe comes from the top of the boiler and appears to go into a masonry chimney. There is another larger pipe above it what is that for?
    mattmia2
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    JUGHNE said:

    The flue vent pipe comes from the top of the boiler and appears to go into a masonry chimney. There is another larger pipe above it what is that for?

    Hot water tank thats in another closet on other side of the wall
  • DZoro
    DZoro Member Posts: 1,048
    edited November 2019
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    That water heater pipe must really make the boiler pipe feel insecure....it's sooo BIG.
    LOL
    But seriously that seems strange. What size water heater do you have in that home?
    I'm not against changing out a 50 year old boiler, but proper cleaning and care can probably buy you some time for money and a proper installation.
    There was a pic of a combustion analyzer with high CO, was the analyzer in the pipe before actual firing of the boiler? That can be a cause of a high CO spike. Actual running CO is a different thing.
    D
    ZmanGrallert
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    Yeah LOL maybe the boiler has been suffering from some envy and overworking itself .... The water heater is big I believe its like 60 or 80 gallon way over sized for the small house.

    With all the helpful info I received here and from companies that I have been calling. I have decided that im going to attempt to clean it up today. All the companies I talked to told me the same thing that you guys have been telling me that it can likely be cleaned up and "tuned" but NO ONE wants to do it LOL so ill attempt it! Wish me luck guys :)
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    One thing to consider is if there is enough combustion air for both boiler and WH. Is the closet door louvered?
    starbrightsteve
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    no neither are louvered, there both kind of like blend in doors made from matching wood paneling
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,102
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    So they each are in their own fairly tight closet with no way for air to freely enter?
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    Its definitely not air tight and there are a couple air vents, I couldnt get the top cover off because the flue pipe and water pipes are in the way. I opened up the cover where the pilot is and it didnt look all that bad inside to me, odd that the pilot was still lit as the electric switch was to the off position.
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,600
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    Donny, Wear a respirator, buy a new shopvac and throw it away when done. But most importantly, have another combustion analysis performed and leave that door open.
    Donny039
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,940
    edited November 2019
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    the pilot only needs gas to burn or stay lit. the thermocouple generates a current that holds the gas valve or a safety switch open depending on what kind of controls that boiler has. the burner really should be removed and cleaned along with whatever is on the outside and between the boiler sections. judging by how much dust was on that burner door there is likely a lot in the burner and the bottom of the boiler as well.
    Donny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
    edited November 2019
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    So maybe I should turn off the pilot since its not heating anything now anyway, and clean and vacuum out that area really well where the burner / pilot is? I dont really see how I could really open up the boiler to clean anywhere besides that burner / pilot area. I'm going to have a company come out again next week to hopefuly replace the pump, tune it up and get it going (provided the CM levels will be safe). Id like to clean up whatever I can before the company comes out and get the boiler in the best shape I can I just dont think its possible to open it up much because its so tight in the closet and how the pipes and stuff are run, not much room and I dont want to mess anything up either.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 9,940
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    you really need an old timer that knows how to do it and a skinny young person that can crawl back in the corner. i think you have to remove the vent and the expansion tank to take the top of the jacket off.
    Donny039
  • Donny039
    Donny039 Member Posts: 21
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    Yeah if the expansion tank was removed I could get the top off to get in and clean, I didnt want to try and remove it because honestly I have no knowledge and im not trying to blow myself up or anything .... I wish I could find an old timer that would do it!! my grandfather installed furnaces and worked for the gas company his whole life I bet he would have known how to do it (he's not around anymore) maybe ill try reaching out to one of his buddies maybe one of them can do it or will know someone who can.