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Here is an interesting study

Mitch_4 Member Posts: 955
Not a total suprise really..It is amazing the lack of knowledge out there.

Had one guy tell me "yeah..but it takes like 13000ppm to kill you quick"

I explained that that represents 1.3% content, then I had to prove it mathematically!!

thanks for sharing



  • S Ebels
    S Ebels Member Posts: 2,322




  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    I bet

    that the numbers would be even more staggering if they called PHVAC shops.

    Mark H

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  • tom_49
    tom_49 Member Posts: 269

    I believe it!!

    Though not a Co expert, I try to tell my customers everything I know about CO.

    We did a furnace replacement the other day for an elderly man who had several cracks in his HX. The oil co. told him they could change it out in a couple of weeks, "just keep the windows cracked to let out the fumes". Nice huh?

  • Chris C_2
    Chris C_2 Member Posts: 3

    The study is crap because they did not publish the scripted questions that were asked. So don't be fooled
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    Well Chris

    Do you test for CO on all of your service calls or installations?

    Do the other heating contractors in your area?

    The questions are listed right there.

    Who's fooling who?

    Mark H

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  • Perry_2
    Perry_2 Member Posts: 381
    Do you understand that

    all you see is the "abstract" for the study. An Abstract is nothing but a short summary. The study is probably many pages - and will list all of the questions, the methods, and other things in sufficient detail that another can duplicate the study.

    Now if you want to read the full study - just pony up with your credit card and buy it. Alternately, if you live near a research library that subscribes to the journal you can go look at the paper copy of the journal (from 1999).

    While I have not done that in a few years - for a while I was driving to Madison and using the University of Wisconsin Library system for some independent research so that I could get to all of the articles published on an item.

  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909

    no reply from Chris.

    Perhaps the study was right after all?

    CO poisoning is the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America.


    With all the "alarms" available, how can this be?

    I hope all of you have a good CO alarm in your house.

    Mark H

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  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,039

    Imagine if they went door to door or just stopped people on a busy corner! The numbers would be worse!

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Perry_2
    Perry_2 Member Posts: 381
    An option better than an alarm

    I don't trust the alarms either... they age...

    My chosen option as part of my boiler/hot water heater replacement project was to install a Vitodens 200 with the cocentric vent kit (sealed combustion) so that I sealed away the combustion process from the house and the existing chimney.

    Cost more, but I think more reliable than installing alarms that may or may not work in the future.

    What is the value of installing a safer system.

    Too bad more people (and heating contractors) do not think that way.

    I also find it interesting that on the "Warrantees" thread that the information is presented that you have to tape the cover closed on a Munchkin boiler in order to prevent leakage into the house (or at least leakage to the extent that it could degrade the boiler).

  • John R. Hall
    John R. Hall Member Posts: 2,246

    We had a total of over 130 responses to our latest CO survey, with some interesting statistics. There are a lot more companies not requiring combustion testing or arming their techs with analyzers than I expected. I hope to have it in The NEWS sometime in December.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    Yes Perry

    ALL alarms age. The life expectancy of a CO alarm is about 5 years. That is 5 years from the day the sensor was made, NOT 5 years from the date of purchase.

    UL-2034 FORBIDS alarms from sounding at levels below 70ppm, so 69.9999ppm is ok. Even at 70ppm, the alarm can wait 4 hours before it makes a peep. So when a UL listed alarm does go off, the occupants have already been poisoned.

    The medical community is just now staring to look at chronic poisoning and the LONG term effects it has on the health of those exposed. But CO poisoning is still THE MOST misdiagnosed form of poisoning out there. The CDC estimates that 40,000 people seek treatment for CO poisoning every year. Those are just the cases that get recognized.

    The results of this survey are accurate. I still meet people that do not think oil creates CO. I know as a fact that not one HVAC company in my area tests ANYTHING they install for CO. NOT ONE.

    There are "experts" that say that the old shaker bottle is all you need for testing oil burners. The guys that SHOULD know better don't and they keep regurgitating the same information from 100 years ago. The guys starting out hear this and take it as gospel. It is re-enforced by the "experienced' guys and the circle is completed.

    Sealed combustion appliances do not guarantee that a CO poisoning will not occur. They may lessen the danger, but they do not eliminate it.

    Every thing that burns will produce CO and if the burn is not tested, one can only guess as to how much CO is being generated. Blue flames are not an indicator just as zero smoke is not an indicator. Only a digital analyzer will tell you what is actually happening with the combustion process. I do not care how long someone has been "in the business". If you don't test, you don't know.

    Mark H

    To Learn More About This Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in "Find A Professional"
  • Unfortunately,

    oil folks, until about 10 years ago, were told (& taught) that CO was not a problem until CO2 went up around 15%, that soot, &/or fumes, would warn the consumer of a problem. Most of the test instruments we used, back then, did not measure CO. Some of us carried a Monoxor. We used it on gas-oil equipment. Then we only tested for CO on gas.

    As someone who used to field calls from newsies, survey folks, & concerned customers, I was trained to tread lightly on subjects w/ the potential for a high hysteria factor. I suspect the answers to this study would not have been substantially different if the researchers had called listed Plumbing & Heating Companies in the same area.
    I wonder why that wasn't done?

    Many of us, but not enough, have accepted the fact that we must test for CO on both fuels. Do we test every time we are in the boiler room? No. However, most of the P & H folks I cross paths with, don't even own a combustion test kit. Wet or other wise. Or a hand held CO detector. Doesn't have the earnings potential of a sewer camera.

    I'm not a big fan of statistics. "Lies, damn lies, & statistics" is a quote w/ great meaning to me. However, a study (gruesome as it may be) showing which fuel is the deadliest, CO wise, could be enlightening. That will show those who are so inclined, where to drop the first mandatory heavy blows of the education hammer.
  • Perry_2
    Perry_2 Member Posts: 381
    Do you remember...

    I agree that a sealed combustion source must be tested periodically, and that it does not eliminate the problem totally. But I think that properely installed it is a much safer option than depending on the alarms. Note, I'm not sure how much faith I'd put into a PVC venting system for a boiler either (no problem with air supply though).

    But back to CO testing. Do you remember (or even know about) the neat little chemical test rigs before. Remaining O2, CO, and/or CO2 content testable. I doubt chemical analysis is used much anymore due to the digital guages now available (but it might still be the basis for the national lab calibration).

    But you could do the testing relatively fast once the tube was hooked up to the exhaust stream, and redo it again, etc (we used to do power plant performance testing with them - needed to run a test every couple of minutes for an hour or so).

  • Tim_25
    Tim_25 Member Posts: 16

    Dead on Mark, If you don't test you don't know. How can a burner be set up to manufacturers specs without testing? After all service calls regarding a burner problem a combustion test should be done and a print out placed on the boiler and one for the tech. CYA and sleep well
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909
    Never used them

    but there were tubes that were used to test for CO years ago.

    One time use and the results were somewhat slow. IIRC, they were also temperature sensitive and could only be used on diluted flue gas. Guys would keep them in the freezer until they needed to use them. There was a chart I believe that estimated the CO concentration by the color of the tube. Not sure if we are talking about the same thing.

    My testing started with digital equipment and I never saw an analyzer(other than the wet kit) for the first 15 years I was in the trade.

    As for the sealed combustion units, I have seen with my own two eyes furnaces and boilers continue to run with the exhaust completely blocked off. Same with the intake. That shook me up a bit!

    Always good to read your posts Perry!

    Mark H

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  • Perry_2
    Perry_2 Member Posts: 381
    No, not the same

    those tubes - that you broke the end off and changed color came latter (and were fairly accurate).

    The tester I'm talking about had 3 reaction chambers setup with chemical feed bottles in a hand carried mount box. You hand pumped (vacume pump) the gas into the appropriate reaction tube for whatever gas you were testing for. Added chemicals - and watched for either a specific (and measured) volume change - or a distinct change in color. The volume change or the amount of chemicals added (often 1 drop at a time) allowed you to know the % concentration of the gas you were testing for. Then you could either flush the reaction chamber or dump the chemicals and flush in just a couple of minutes and start over on the next test. I do have to admit that it has probably been about 25 years ago since I used them. I did other things for a while - even got downsized out of the power industry by a plant closing - and when I came back the break off tubes and then the electronic meters took over.

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