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Combustion analysis startup calibration question

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RayWohlfarth
RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,552
I attended a seminar a little while ago on combustion testing and something came up and wanted your thoughts. The person teaching the class said he calibrates his combustion analyzer outside. After the class, i told him I was taught by the engineer from a combustion analyzer manufacturer to start and calibrate the unit in the air where the boiler gets the combustion air from. If the boiler uses room air from the boiler room, calibrate it there. It allows the unit to zero out for the room temperature to give an accurate combustion reading.

The teacher of the class disagreed and said that he calibrates it outside in the event there is carbon monoxide in the room. If you start the analyzer inside the room, it could ignore the ambient carbon monoxide and zero it out as no CO. Just curious as to your thoughts.

Thanks
Ray

Ray Wohlfarth
Boiler Lessons

Comments

  • ScottSecor
    ScottSecor Member Posts: 864
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    Never really gave it much thought. However, despite the fact that many claim CO is an odorless almost non detectable gas, I have immediately felt the effects when walking into a boiler room more than a few times. In these very rare cases, my eyeglasses immediately fogged up and there was a funky smell in the boiler room, it also took your breath away.

    That being said, we almost always calibrate our combustion analyzers inside the warm boiler room. I was taught to warm up the analyzer before performing combustion tests. I'm not sure starting up the machine outside on a bitter cold day would work in my favor. I would only suggest calibrating the unit outside if you suspect high levels of CO inside the boiler room.
    EdTheHeaterManHVACNUTMikeAmann
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,572
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    Nowadays all of our boiler installs have been Modcons .. We use the outside air since the temperature is a relevant part of the equation.
    In the NCI classes no one ever talked about calibrating the combustion analyzer in mechanical room due to the possibility of Carbon monoxide.
    Maybe they should investigate and fix the CO source vs. possibly subjecting themselves and the equipment to it :D
    EdTheHeaterMan
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,572
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    Never really gave it much thought. However, despite the fact that many claim CO is an odorless almost non detectable gas, I have immediately felt the effects when walking into a boiler room more than a few times. In these very rare cases, my eyeglasses immediately fogged up and there was a funky smell in the boiler room, it also took your breath away.

    That being said, we almost always calibrate our combustion analyzers inside the warm boiler room. I was taught to warm up the analyzer before performing combustion tests. I'm not sure starting up the machine outside on a bitter cold day would work in my favor. I would only suggest calibrating the unit outside if you suspect high levels of CO inside the boiler room.


    And i thought that i was the only one that could sense Carbon monoxide . Yes it is the byproducts of the combustion that gives it that "funky smell".

    Agree with the analyzers inside the warm boiler room .. That is why we keep our combustion analyzer in a conditioned environment when we have cold bitter days (Office to the vans,vans to mech room).
    NCI calls for Calibrating the analyzer using outside air and never to Enter a mechanical room without PPE.
    Maybe CaptainCO can shed some light on this.
  • captainco
    captainco Member Posts: 796
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    I am more concerned with my safety than a bogus combustion efficiency calculation. If your analyzer zeroes out the CO during calibration then it needs to be turned on outside, 30 degree in temperature affects the efficiency 1%. Not enough difference to sacrifice safety. Some people should not be teaching when they are teaching how to endanger yourself.
    STEVEusaPAAlan (California Radiant) ForbesEdTheHeaterManDerheatmeister
  • STEAM DOCTOR
    STEAM DOCTOR Member Posts: 2,040
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    Everyone should be carrying a personal CO detector regardless. Walk into the boiler room. If Co is detected, walk out of the boiler room. Combustion analysis, at that point, is not priority. Shut the boiler. 
    Derheatmeister
  • captainco
    captainco Member Posts: 796
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    A personal CO detector protects you. A combustion analyzer protects your customer, but you need to know how to use it. To bad there are those that don't know how that are teaching it.
    STEVEusaPADerheatmeister
  • clammy
    clammy Member Posts: 3,113
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    I would have to agree on starting and zero out outdoors due to any possible co2 in the mechanical room or home effecting the self calibration auto zeroing out of a combustion analyzer . After zeroing out when performing combustion testing I would then check for any ambient co 2 and check around the boiler for leakage ,draft hood etc before switching to perform a combustion testing . This is just what I do when being paid to perform a combustion test or have made any adjustment to gas valve or oil burner and of course this would be done before and after annual cleaning we are talking fire side cleaning not water side
    Great thoughts Ray
    Peace and good luck clammy
    R.A. Calmbacher L.L.C. HVAC
    NJ Master HVAC Lic.
    Mahwah, NJ
    Specializing in steam and hydronic heating
  • ethicalpaul
    ethicalpaul Member Posts: 5,792
    edited June 2023
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    However, despite the fact that many claim CO is an odorless almost non detectable gas, I have immediately felt the effects when walking into a boiler room more than a few times. In these very rare cases, my eyeglasses immediately fogged up and there was a funky smell in the boiler room, it also took your breath away.


    The foggy glasses are from the additional humidity from combustion gases being in the room including CO (that you can't smell or sense), and other products that you can smell.

    But I think there are conditions where you could have CO in the room and no other gases that you could sense, and that's why that warning is worded that way, so you don't get complicit and think that because your glasses didn't fog up and you couldn't smell anything that you are safe. That's my thinking about it.

    NJ Steam Homeowner.
    Free NJ and remote steam advice: https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/new-jersey-steam-help/
    See my sight glass boiler videos: https://bit.ly/3sZW1el

    bburd
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 6,505
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    I zero it outside. However, on a very cold days, I'll bring the analyzer inside while I'm doing the service/pm. Then I'll open the door (basement door), set it outside and fire it up.

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,105
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    Outside, always calibrate the unit outside, and not right next to your running vehicle, generator, equipment etc.
    EdTheHeaterManMad Dog_2Derheatmeister
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    Taught by The Great Captain CO...Jim Davis ...always outside first.  Mad Dog 🐕 
    GGrossDerheatmeister
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,552
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    It's funny, I used to calibrate it outside all the time. When I was inside a boiler room, I would push the probe outside. I was talking with the chief engineer at Bacharach at the time (they used to be in my home town) and he told me to never start the analyzer outside unless its a mod con with combustion air from outside. He said the conditions inside the boiler room are going to be much different than the conditions outdoor. He was adamant about starting the analyzer in the the area where the boiler gets its combustion air. In any event, I always keep my personal CO detector with me and if it senses CO, I shut down the system and tell the owner.

    @ScottSecor I am trying to find a way to describe that when you walk into a boiler room and the flue gases are there. I liken it to a sour smell that will burn your nose, figuratively and not literally.

    thank you Sirs:
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Mad Dog_2
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
    edited June 2023
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    I don't think it makes all that much difference where you ZERO it out, Ray....Whats it going to be off a few % points?  As far as CO.....I'm with Scott.
    CO may be tasteless and odorless, but Aldehydes are NOT...When I walk in to An active "Event," I immediately taste it in my mouth...Glasses Fog up....Air is THICK...(Three  WARNING signs) Mad Dog 🐕 
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 7,241
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    I don't always carry my Personal CO monitor in to the building, but I absolutely should.  Relying on your natural senses is great until  that one time you're senses are not 100%...tired,, old,, in a rush...Mad Dog 🐕 
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,572
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    Mad Dog_2 said:

    I don't always carry my Personal CO monitor in to the building, but I absolutely should.  Relying on your natural senses is great until  that one time you're senses are not 100%...tired,, old,, in a rush...Mad Dog 🐕 

    I always have my PPE on me even when i am "Offduty"
    Once both my employees and my monitors went off the scales when we sat down for lunch.
    On a other occasion my PPE went crazy at a local Brewery.. Both places are safe now.
    You whould never know when it is present unless you have your PPE on you.
    Mad Dog_2
  • captainco
    captainco Member Posts: 796
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    Can't believe an engineer from Bacharach would make such a stupid comment!! I know of several cases where a technician was found unconscious because he waited to turn on his analyzer. He had a cold and didn't wear glasses.
    DerheatmeisterMad Dog_2
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,552
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    @captainco Like I said, he was pretty adamant so I thought, he must know the proper way. I wrote an article about co poisoning in a school where the electrician was overcome by co. He was lucky to have survived.
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
  • captainco
    captainco Member Posts: 796
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    Ray - I am positive that engineer has never done a combustion test in the field.
    Mad Dog_2
  • RayWohlfarth
    RayWohlfarth Member Posts: 1,552
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    @captainco You are probably right Thanks
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Mad Dog_2