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Natural gas boiler sidewall vent issue

StoicsDream
StoicsDream Member Posts: 5
edited May 12 in Gas Heating
Hello everyone, I bought a house exactly 1 year ago. Our home came equipped with a new condensing phantom velocity crown boiler that has an intake and flue exhaust pipe out through the side of the house.  From what I have read this system is pretty pricey. This system heats up our home as well as our water.

Now the issue that I am having is that the exhaust coming from the flue is making me feel sick to my stomach. The exhaust flue is situated under our living room window and near our kitchen window, within the "required" distance of about 5' away from any window. 

Which is ridiculous to me because when the exhaust clouds come out it can blow back into our home from any window opened thats nearby, backdrafting. 

I cant be anywhere around that exhaust pipe, in the backyard or even open my bedroom windows which is on the second floor adjacent to this exhaust pipe. 

I've called the company and they told me that the exhaust pipe is within the required length away from any window. And that a kit was available, but it would only be a maximum of 6' up. But again the issue of the exhaust coming back through our windows is an issue.  Ive consulted with different contractors who came by my home and said the most they can do was run the exhaust pipe to the other side of the house from the basement where our system is installed. That would still create the same issue. 

I have asked them if there was a way to run the exhaust pipe all the way up through the roof, but our home does not have a full chimney still intact. I have throught about running the flue pipe from the side of the house, even with an external chimney made, but there is the risk of the elements freezing the steam that rises and can create many issues. 

The only way I am able to be in the backyard is if I turn the boiler emergency shut off switch, but I feel if I repeatedly do this it might impact the system in some way. 

This has been a challenging time for my family and I. They have also been having some ongoing allergic reactions, sore throat, coughing, sinus and sneezing.

 It seems sidewall venting of natural gas boilers is common in my town. Not all houses have them, but some do. I was under the impression that once the exhaust makes contact with the outside air, it is no longer harmful.

I just dont know what to do anymore. We have a beautiful home and this ongoing issue. Ive also thought about replacing the whole system with something that does not vent through the house or another way of working. Any thoughts, suggestions and opinions welcome. Thank you.

Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 9,721
    How much of your original chimney is still intact?
    Is this a 2 story house?

    The chimney could have been used for a chase for the PVC piping and go thru the roof.
    StoicsDream
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,699
    Sidewall venting is common, and for many people it is not a problem. For some it is. While the diluted exhaust may not be harmful -- in the sense that it won't kill you -- it can certainly be a nuisance.

    That said, the first thing to do is to make sure that the boiler really is burning cleanly. It should be checked for proper combustion settings by someone who has the correct combustion testing equipment -- and knows how to use it. It is possible that it is sufficiently far out of adjustment as to cause problems.

    Other than that, the best solution is going to be to extend the exhaust vertically through the roof up the side of the house. This really shouldn't be that difficult, and would solve the problem.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    In_New_EnglandStoicsDreamZman
  • StoicsDream
    StoicsDream Member Posts: 5
    JUGHNE said:
    How much of your original chimney is still intact? Is this a 2 story house? The chimney could have been used for a chase for the PVC piping and go thru the roof.
    Hello, thank you for your response. It is a two story house. There is part of the chimney in the basement and another part in the attic and the chimney flue on the roof. I've looked for other parts of the chimney on the 1st and 2nd floor, as far as I know unless those parts are inside the wall, it does not look it though, I believe those parts are the ones missing. 

    I would have hoped it was as simple as that, Ive talked to two plumbers and a boiler/heating contractor and they could not really give me another solution other than the ones I mentioned. I did speak to an hvac contractor who advised me that it would be an expensive job, I tried to get an estimate from him, but it seemed like he was after a bigger job and never called me back. 

    I am not sure what other type of contractor I could speak to. I don't even know who installed the system in my home. 
  • StoicsDream
    StoicsDream Member Posts: 5
    edited May 13
    Sidewall venting is common, and for many people it is not a problem. For some it is. While the diluted exhaust may not be harmful -- in the sense that it won't kill you -- it can certainly be a nuisance. That said, the first thing to do is to make sure that the boiler really is burning cleanly. It should be checked for proper combustion settings by someone who has the correct combustion testing equipment -- and knows how to use it. It is possible that it is sufficiently far out of adjustment as to cause problems. Other than that, the best solution is going to be to extend the exhaust vertically through the roof up the side of the house. This really shouldn't be that difficult, and would solve the problem.
    What I was thinking, those people with sidewall venting, do they really open up the windows that are right next to these exhaust vents? The negative pressure that the window has when its open should bring the surrounding air in. 

    My concern is not that it will kill me right away, but the potential long term health effects it may have on my family or me. 

    Thank you for the suggestion of having someone skilled in checking to see if the boiler is in the correct adjustments with the proper equipment and burning clean. I havent thought of that and will have it done soon. 

    I would run the exhaust system through the side of the house onto the roof, but since we get really cold winters here one of the contractors said that because its condensed steam coming outside the exhaust that when it rises on the outside it would cool down and the water would freeze potentially freezing the line to the point of expanding and damaging it, as well as potentially  damaging the boiler system itself. 
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,900
    edited May 13
    @StoicsDream

    Why not post a few pictures of the boiler the flue pipe and where it vents outside.

    If the chimney is still standing which it is (no parts of the chimney have been removed it they did it would fall down)

    You may be able to vent that way through the roof.

    Also post your location and check "find a contractor on this site"


    also post the boiler model #
    StoicsDreamHomerJSmith
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 18,699
    Once in a long time we here of a situation where the exhaust through the roof has had ice problems. I think there was one here four or five years ago. However, if the pipe run is inside the envelope -- very very unlikely. If it's outside the envelope, you can create a very nice face "chimney" on the face of the house with a box and the exhaust running up inside it. There are thousands of them! Your guy who's afraid of freezing is not correct.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    StoicsDream
  • StoicsDream
    StoicsDream Member Posts: 5
    @EBEBRATT-Ed, the model series is phntm180hnt1suc and here is a pic where the intake and exhaust flue is right under the living room window, not to far off is our kitchen window. 
  • StoicsDream
    StoicsDream Member Posts: 5
    @Jamie Hall I thought so too. What type contractor/s would I speak to? Chimney, plumber, hvac? Ive spoken to one of each individually and keep hitting a dead end. Maybe there is a type that will do all, but Im not sure if there is a specific contractor that will specialize in something like this. 
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,353
    In cold climates, you can extend the pipe on the outside of the house and up through the roof, but it has to be in an insulated chase to stop the freezing problems you were referring to.
    And yes, it does look like it is installed per manufacturer, and it could be burning badly and causing bad fumes, but most likely you are just more sensitive to it than most. I am mostly an oil burner guy, but I am getting to the point where I can't stand the smell of diesel burning. And then I just bought a diesel pickup, so that is also a problem.
    Rick
    StoicsDream
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,900
    I would vent the boiler outlet up through the chimney. I looked for the boiler model you posted on Velocity Boile and couldn't find the exact model. They have several Phantom models.

    But the venting instructions look like you can vent the outlet up the chimney with the air intake can be left as is in the building side wall.

    Your installer needs to read and understand the venting instructions and follow them.



    StoicsDream
  • KC_Jones
    KC_Jones Member Posts: 5,077
    I might be losing my mind here, but that termination does not meet the manufacturers specification based on what I'm reading. It clearly states and shows it must be 12" away from any window. The 12" is measure horizontally (shown in diagram), that termination is directly under a window, which is obviously not 12" away. It is also required to be 4' away from the gas meter so it would either have to move significantly to the right or left from it's current position.

    That location defies logic, I don't need a manual to tell me that.

    All that said, did the contractor perform a full combustion analysis and tune on the burner to make sure it's running properly?

    Do you have a gas stove in the house? If that doesn't bother you, then this shouldn't either, unless it's not running properly.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    ChrisJpecmsgStoicsDreamHomerJSmith
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,353
    Well, the termination for the exhaust is on the right, which does look like 12" away. Also, it depends on if the window can be opened, which this one might be fixed, but I think I see a screen in it, so maybe not.
    The gas company would dictate if the exhaust is far enough away before they set the meter, so it either meets there specs, or someone messed up.
    As a side note: That ugly rusty pipe is the reason I went to using galvanized pipe. Nothing looks worse on the Homer spit than black pipe that has been hammered with salt water under the boardwalks. 1/2" pipe gets really big.
    Rick
    StoicsDream
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655

    Well, the termination for the exhaust is on the right, which does look like 12" away. Also, it depends on if the window can be opened, which this one might be fixed, but I think I see a screen in it, so maybe not.
    The gas company would dictate if the exhaust is far enough away before they set the meter, so it either meets there specs, or someone messed up.
    As a side note: That ugly rusty pipe is the reason I went to using galvanized pipe. Nothing looks worse on the Homer spit than black pipe that has been hammered with salt water under the boardwalks. 1/2" pipe gets really big.
    Rick


    Doesn't look like it meets requirements to me.
    I interpret this is meaning it cannot be under a window, period. It must be 12" or more to the side of it horizontally as @KC_Jones said.







    But I also agree, if that's burning even remotely right it shouldn't really be bothering anyone either. I'd want it checked out regardless of moving the exhaust.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    KC_JonesStoicsDream
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,532
    Do a combustion analysis if it hasn't been done with a recently calibrated combustion meter.
    StoicsDreamZman
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,263
    ChrisJ said:

    ............But I also agree, if that's burning even remotely right it shouldn't really be bothering anyone either. I'd want it checked out regardless of moving the exhaust.

    Do a combustion analysis if it hasn't been done with a recently calibrated combustion meter.

    THIS!

    @StoicsDream , where are you located? You need this looked at NOW. Don't use this unit until it successfully passes a combustion test.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    StoicsDream
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 109
    not true regarding "if it burns right it shouldn't bother you". a perfectly tune boiler still produces co. even asme boiler code allows up to 400 ppm of undiluted co as acceptable in the flue gas although most manufactures will try and keep it under 200.
    StoicsDream
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 15,263
    pedmec said:

    not true regarding "if it burns right it shouldn't bother you". a perfectly tune boiler still produces co. even asme boiler code allows up to 400 ppm of undiluted co as acceptable in the flue gas although most manufactures will try and keep it under 200.

    Those CO numbers are way too high. I doubt anyone on this board would tolerate them. @Tim McElwain ? @captainco ?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    ChrisJStoicsDreamRich_49
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655
    My boiler setup stock was producing 0 ppm CO.

    Even with the manifold pressure cranked way up the CO was still around 50 ppm.

    400 everyone I know would consider unacceptable.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    StoicsDream
  • 109A_5
    109A_5 Member Posts: 15
    I agree with @EBEBRATT-Ed that if the chimney is in the basement and is also in the attic it is probably all there. Removing the chimney in the living space and adding supporting structure to the house framing to hold up the attic portion makes no sense. Builders are good at hiding chimneys behind closets and built in cabinets or just the way the walls are designed. If there is an easily removable cover where the former boiler exhaust vented to the chimney in the basement you could use a mirror to see if you can see daylight at the top of the chimney (assuming it was not capped off). You may feel a draft also.

    If the combustion analysis is OK and the chimney is usable I would use the chimney.

    If you have to extend the exhaust venting on the side of the house you may want to consider the prevailing wind and go towards down wind. Also why is the exhaust drafting into the house? Is the boiler air intake partially plugged or not connected to the boiler in the house? So the boiler is drawing combustion air from inside the house.

    National - U.S. Gas Boiler 45+ Years Old
    Steam 300 SQ. FT. - EDR 347
    One Pipe System
    StoicsDream
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 109
    400 is absolutely unexceptionable but it asme not me. its in the books. key word being undiluted co
    StoicsDreamrick in Alaska
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 109
    i stand corrected. its an ansi standard. its maximum in flue.

    Table 1: CO Thresholds for Fossil Fuel-Fired Combustion Appliances

    4
    See Carbon Monoxide Air Free in Annex B |Terms and Definitions for further details.
    Table 1
    CO Thresholds for Fossil-Fuel Fired Combustion Appliances
    Appliance Threshold Limit
    Central Furnace (all categories) 400 ppm air free4
    Boiler 400 ppm air free
    Floor Furnace 400 ppm air free
    Gravity Furnace 400 ppm air free
    Wall Furnace (BIV) 200 ppm air free
    Wall Furnace (Direct Vent) 400 ppm air free
    Vented Room Heater 200 ppm air free
    Unvented Room Heater 200 ppm air free
    Water Heater 200 ppm air free
    Oven/Broiler 225 ppm as measured
    Clothes Dryer 400 ppm air free
    Refrigerator 25 ppm as measured
    Gas Log (gas fireplace) 25 ppm as measured in vent
    Gas Log (installed in wood burning fireplace) 400 ppm air free in firebox
    StoicsDream
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 11,900
    I was always told that you should not allow a burner to run over 100ppm Co but that you should be under 50 ppm
    StoicsDream
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 109
    ill have to look it up but i believe the burnham alpine at high fire is in the 165ppm range. id have to verify but that's how i remember it (but maybe i'm just getting old, lol).

    if your not getting co then your just running a little lean. just losing a little efficiency but safer.

  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 109
    nope not the alpine
  • pedmec
    pedmec Member Posts: 109
    everybody's favorite boiler, the munchkin is 70-135 ppm at high fire
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 12,655
    pedmec said:
    everybody's favorite boiler, the munchkin is 70-135 ppm at high fire
    My favorite boiler is the Union Pacific Big Boy



    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    HomerJSmith