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Poor air quality boiler performance

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mattyc
mattyc Member Posts: 44
Here in New York we are currently in a state of poor air quality due to the fires up in Canada. Many Boilers run on fresh air that is drawn directly from the outdoors. How do you suspect the smoky and hazy air that we are currently experiencing will effect boiler performance. Temporarily removing the fresh air piping from the outdoor and having the boiler draw air from the living space may be a good temporary solution but as a contractor, that is not possible to go to every customer that we have to do that. Is it best to keep these units Off until this passes? What are your thoughts?

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  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,961
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    Seeing how the air indoors is the same as outdoors I don't see a difference.
    WMno57mattyc
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
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    Smoky air is more of a problem for carbon based life forms than fire boxes and heat exchangers.
    We should stay inside, drink beer, and watch baseball. Don't cut the grass, if someone complains about your unkempt lawn, tell them the EPA says its OK.
    JUGHNESTEVEusaPAVRM
  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 864
    edited June 2023
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    The majority of boilers in my area of NJ are still taking air for combustion from the basement. In most homes the air from the basement is actually sneaking in from outdoors through windows, doors, etc. In most of our commercial and industrial accounts air comes directly from fresh air louvers located in the boiler room. If these boilers are still running (likely for dhw needs) I would strongly suggest not changing anything as you run the risk of causing combustion air problems by closing or modifying air inlet(s).

    For systems that take air directly from outdoors (mostly condensing boilers), I suggest the same. Don't block or modify the fresh air inlet. I suppose you could install some sort of air filter with very little restriction to prevent "dirty air" from entering the combustion chamber. As you may know, some boilers come with fresh air filters from the factory.

    Finally, in my area many of our customers have the landscaper blow the leaves, grass clippings, etc. about once a week. I suspect the leaf blowers do more long term damage to boilers that a few days of heavy Canadian smoke from wildfires.
    WMno57CLamb
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,649
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    One may not like the smoke, and for the more fragile people it is a real problem (for better or worse, a lifetime of smoking 2 to 3 packs a day of Camels -- unfiltered -- seems to have made me pretty immune to problems from air quality...). The poor air quality, though, should cause no problems for boilers and furnaces -- not, for that matter, to engines of any kind.

    The only reason there are aviation delays is that the pilots can't see where they are going, and that can slow things down.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
    edited June 2023
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    " The idea that a low dose of a bad thing can have good effects is called hormesis.
    Other so-called hormetic effects in humans are well documented. At low levels, and in certain circumstances, physical stressors such as exercise, cold, toxins, and fasting all bring health benefits. These appear to work by slightly over-activating the body’s repair machinery, relative to a small stress, with net positive results."
    https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/could-small-amounts-of-radiation-be-good-for-you-its-complicated
  • WMno57
    WMno57 Member Posts: 1,408
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    The opposite of Hormesis is Multiplicative Synergism (Multiplicative as opposed to Additive)
    Multiplicative Synergism may have increased Anthrax deaths in the Sverdlovsk bio-weapons lab leak. Apparently a high percentage of the fatalities were smokers. Anthrax alone may not have killed as many. Smoking was a Multiplicative risk factor.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverdlovsk_anthrax_leak
    In between Hormesis and Multiplicative Synergism is the Linear no Threshold Model.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model
    Isn't Science fun?
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,649
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    I thought we were talking about the impact on boilers and furnaces? Was I mistaken?

    If not, there are all kinds of things I can absolutely terrify you with. Much worse than a few days of poor air quality.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,417
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    WMno57 said:
    The opposite of Hormesis is Multiplicative Synergism (Multiplicative as opposed to Additive) Multiplicative Synergism may have increased Anthrax deaths in the Sverdlovsk bio-weapons lab leak. Apparently a high percentage of the fatalities were smokers. Anthrax alone may not have killed as many. Smoking was a Multiplicative risk factor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sverdlovsk_anthrax_leak In between Hormesis and Multiplicative Synergism is the Linear no Threshold Model. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model Isn't Science fun?
    Smoking and asbestos exposure. Or if you're a coal miner who smokes...

    And then there is lead exposure which is linear I believe. There is no safe exposure level and the bad effects keep getting worse as exposure increases. 
  • JakeCK
    JakeCK Member Posts: 1,417
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    And for the op, I must ask why would one even worry about adjusting or changing anything on a boiler for such a temporary issue such as wild firesmoke? Worst case scenario for the boiler is that combustion numbers will be off a bit for a while.