Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.
Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.

If you've found help here, check back in to let us know how everything worked out.
It's a great way to thank those who helped you.
Need to contact us? Visit

Combustion Analysis

RankinRankin Member Posts: 26
Are you guys testing new high efficient furnaces as well? I've started doing it and I'm getting a lot of raised eyebrows here in Alberta....




  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265

    Test them.

    Their eybrows will come down.

    You are right, they are wrong, and they will come around.

    You my friend are just on the cutting edge of technology and high efficiency.

    Lonlely, eh?
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 4,362
    Yes anything that burns

    should be tested. You are on the right track. The next thing is make sure you have had adequate training to know what the readings mean. Then once you understand that aspect adjustments can be made to dial in the equipment to its maximum efficiency.

    If you need any help we will be more than happy to help you out.
  • RankinRankin Member Posts: 26

    Jim Davis' course in Phoenix, and learned a great deal from it. Locally (Northern Alberta,) there is nil for training and there are only two other analyzers I know of in the city, and one belongs to an end user. Any other recommendations as far as training goes? I'm dedicated to my profession and I'm keen on taking it to another level here.

    Hope you're on the mend, Tim.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 4,362
    Rankin, if you attended Jims class

    you saw the best there is for combustion analysis training. I can offer some controls and gas related training which will help to expand your knowledge. Contact me at [email protected] and I will send you a catalog.

    Be patient with those around you who do not share your knowledge. The process of getting everyone on board for combustion testing is a slow one.
  • SUPER DAN P&HSUPER DAN P&H Member Posts: 48
    co anylizer to buy?

    quality at a good price to own.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,663
    I thought about buying an analyzer.

    Somewhere in the last month or so there was a discussion of analyzers. I was dissatisfied with my former contractor who did not do a combustion analysis on installing the boiler. They said it was adjusted at the factory. I sure hope so.

    At the one-year service, they did next to nothing, even though the I&M manual gives about 6 pages of stuff to do on the first service, and they did only one thing (looked at the fire through the window). I tried telephoning, e-mailing, and first-class mailing them to see what was going on. I got some turkey who said gas boilers did not need maintenance. Hence the second contractor.

    The second contractor said (in writing) that they would do everything specified by the I&M manual, but they did not do a combustion test either. The technician said he had only a wet tester and that it would not work on a condensing boiler. I have no idea about that.

    (Neither contractor is willing to test the pressure relief valve on the boiler or the P/T valve on the indirect hot water heater. I really resent this. Nothing stops me from testing these every year, but if I cannot get one to shut off afterwards, I do not really wish to change it myself. I did purchase a spare pressure relief valve for the boiler when the technician said he did not carry spares because there were too many different kinds.)

    Now I have read the instructions in the I&M manual for doing a combustion test, and it seems pretty easy. I have read about the Bacharac and Testo analyzers. I do not believe I would have trouble following the instruction manuals for these testers. For my boiler, I do not even have to drill holes in anything because there is a sensor that can be removed in the exhaust that can be used for the tester according to the boiler manufacturer. And if the readings are off, there is just one screw in the gas valve to adjust to get things to work.

    There are two arguments, however, against getting this tester.

    1.) The sensors have to be replaced every few years (like 3). This is probably not an issue for a contractor who would be using the units frequently, but as a homeowner, it is quite an expense for a unit probably used only once or twice a year.

    2.) What if the tester says the combustion is off, and turning the screw does not fix the problem? I still need a technician who has the equipment and know-how to handle issues like that. And if I had such a technician, I would not need one of these testers.

    Even with my new contractor, I had to loan him my torque wrench to replace the nuts on the studs to hold the aluminum heat exchanger cover on. 50 inch-pounds and he would have used channel-lock pliers.

    He did not measure the pH of the boiler water because he had just put in the Sentinel X-100 the manufacturer specifies. The original contractor did not do that. And he said it would take a few days to mix in. I can believe that. I do have a pH meter, so I could check the pH now. Sort-of. My pH meter is temperature sensitive, though it says it is temperature compensated. If I calibrate it with buffer solutions at room temperature (say 70F), and the boiler is 100F, the readings are off. I must calibrate and test at the same temperature. So it is easier to do during the non-heating season.

    I decided against buying a tester, though I may change my mind. If I could find a good course around here that did not cost too much, I would take it. But finding a good course may be just as difficult as finding a good contractor.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,843
    JD, Sadly...

    Your situation is duplicated thousands of time every day. I guess in order to get what you need and are asking for, you are going to have to go through a process similar to what you have already done, except this time, pre-qualify what it is that the maintenance contractor is expected to do, and let them know in advance that you will be looking over their shoulder to make certain the work that they said is going to be done, DOES get done, and get it all in writing.

    For crying out loud, you are willing to pay for these services. THe least they can do is deliver.

    Unfortunately, many of todays alleged "service" companies hire a sales person (Ma or Fe) and teach them how to plumb. Most of them don't have a lick of common sense, and if it is not in their "flat rate" price book, then they are lost, but don't want to admit to their supervisors that they don't have the smarts to be able to figure out what it would take to drain the system, replace the relief valve, fill, purge and fire the system.

    As for a homeowner owning a combustion analyzer, I am of the attitude that it wouldn't be prudent for you to do so. You could take a class, and learn how to read it and what to do to make adjustments, but why? There are competent companies out there that are already trained to do those services, and avoid your having to spend precious dollars that could be better spent in others areas of the economy.

    You just need to keep looking until you find them, and then let them know that you are interested in establishing a good, long term relationship. You have already gone way above and beyond in your efforts, you just need to keep pushing the envelope.

    What really frosts me, is that your scenario is SO true, and that it happens on a daily basis.

    Sad but true...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Mike Kusiak_2Mike Kusiak_2 Member Posts: 604
    Combustion guide

    Here is a good introductory reference on combustion analysis. It gives an excellent description of the chemistry of combustion and typical combustion readings for various types of boilers.

    Although I don't service or install boilers for a living, I supervise the maintenance and operation of several large commercial boilers. After being fed up with the lack of knowledge and experience on the part of contractors servicing the equipment, we decided to invest in an analyzer. Best investment we ever made. Can now monitor performance and have service performed before serious problems occur.

    By  the way, got the Testo 327 and love it.
  • SUPER DAN P&HSUPER DAN P&H Member Posts: 48

    I am a service plumber and my company I work for doesnt have a meter. I'm looking for a easy to use quality meter that wont break the bank. This way I can test the combustion on my vibrating munchkin boiler. Thanks,Dan.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,663
    For crying out loud, you are willing to pay

    "For crying out loud, you are willing to pay for these services. THe least they can do is deliver."

    My sentiments exactly. I have never haggled about the price for service. My former contractor offered me a service contract that was too cheap. If I were not already dissatisfied with their work, I would have been suspicious about that. It was less than half of what other contractors charged. Well, I can look through the inspection window for nothing. And I have some idea what I am looking for. See page 2.

    This is for the old Ultra Series 2, but I imagine the burner for the Series 3 that I have is pretty much the same (it looks the same: I have seen it disassembled). The old PhD controller has been replaced by a u-Control that seems a lot better.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,843

    I use a Bacharac Insight, and love it, but that is just my opinion. I have owned UEI (was OK) and Testo (OK also) but was not satisfied with the amount of time necessary to get the unit serviced. I am a one man operation, and can not afford to purchase and hold 2 analyzers, so when mine goes down, I am without until it is serviced and returned. Testo and UEI were slower than a snail doing a moon walk...

    Bacharac has been very timely in their response.

    Do a site search over in Carbon Monoxide Awareness area and you will find that this question has been asked many times, with many different opinions reflected.

    Also, owning an analyzer is only half of the deal. Knowing what to look at and for, and know what to do to change the conditions is more important. The one component of readout that unknowing technicians pay the most attention to is the Efficiency percentage, and that is the one thing that should be ignored for the most part, because there are no less than 1000 combinations that can get you to that number, and if your CO or CO2 are too high, that number (efficiency) is moot.

    It would be worthwhile to find out where Jim Davis of National COmfort Institute is teaching, and pay your way to get to his class. You won't regret it.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Tim McElwainTim McElwain Member Posts: 4,362
    Dan, what is your location

    perhaps I can be of some assitance to you concerning combution analysis. You can contact me at [email protected]

    We offer training on all asp[ects of gas heating equipment including combustion testing.
  • icesailoricesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Combustion Alalysis:

    Wohler and Testo 327's seem to be the most popular. You only need to swap a part to rebuild them.

    A oil company I deal with has a stack of Bachrachs they used and needed the "pile" to have one available while broken ones were being serviced.

    But, taking a class will help. But no substatute for experience handling the equipment. I do oil and I'm still learning. The new electronic models like above have moved everything to a new level.
  • SUPER DAN P&HSUPER DAN P&H Member Posts: 48

    elmwood park,nj. thanks.
  • GlenGlen Member Posts: 855
    bravo Rankin

    combustion analysis is now part of the Alberta Gas Apprenticeship Training - first year. Keep testing and spreading the gospel. eventually all will subscribe to the idea "if you don't test - you don't know".
  • RankinRankin Member Posts: 26
    Apprenticeship Training

    That's good to hear, and about time, too. Two years ago at NAIT, nobody seemed to be to keen on it.
This discussion has been closed.


It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!