As some may have notices I have been somewhat quiet lately. This was due to an extended road trip (well plane-road-plane-road trip) where in I visited 9 multi family building in 9 days to do energy assessments for their parent company. I had the pleasure of having two new to the field Auditors and was taking the opportunity to train them for a friend.
Throughout the first 8 days I was constantly hammering them about gas/oil fired equipment and what happened when you put such equipment in the same room as the air handler for a forced air/air conditiong handler.
Yesterday morning I was getting ready to walk into yet one more mechanical room where they kept their hot water tank and the two Newbies, following all the "advice" I had been giving them stuck the probe of the Carbon monoxide detector under the door.
1400 ppm carbon monoxide. 1400!!! And here we are just off the common room in a senior living building, a room full of walkers, wheelchairs and hunched over folks pushing oxygen bottles. I had one of the new guys go outside with the building super and open the exterior doors to the room to air out the room safely and went in to find the source of the high CO.
In the room was the air handler for the buildings AC and one 40 gallon hot water tank the building had a plumber install when they put a small kitchen in the common area...5 years ago. As is way to typical all of the return ducting coming back to the air handler had been left with the joints unsealed and leaky.Everytime the ac kicked on the air handler would suck in air from the return and blow it through the rest of the hallways and common areas of this three story building. Unfortunatly, because of the leaky joints instead of just drawing the air through the ducts it was also sucking in air from the mechanical room. Enough air that it was sucking the air back down the chimney of the hot water heater. When ever the hot water tank was firing and making hot water it would fill the room with CO and flue gasses then pump that through the building as well. The entire top of the water heater was singed and brown as was the piping that was close by to the flue. This had been happening from the first day the hot water tank was installed.
Yes I shut it down, showed them what was happening and why and gave them recommendation to fix the problem permanently ( in this instance that was having an electric water heater installed to replace the gas fired one).
The reason I am posting this is that while this case was extreme it is, unfortunatly, not rare. It does not only happen with big buildings like the one I was in but can happen in homes just as easily. The plumber in this case was just that, a plumber not an HVAC man. The HVAC man who serviced the Air Handler was not a plumber. So neither gave the other persons equipment a second glance.
Listen folks, if you get a gas bill for your heating/hotwater... put a carbon monoxide detector in the room/basement/garage where that equipment sits. If you have a central air or forced air heating look at any duct work that comes back into the handler (the low ones are the returns) and IF you also have a Gas fired hot water heater in that same area.If you see small and cracks at each connection see about making a trip to home depot for some duct sealant such as Mastic or a URL rated foil Tape (NO Duct Tape, it dries out quickly and is useless for this). If your not the Handyperson type, have your service people look at it... And buy a CO detector...
KK Rant over
What were they thinking???
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