I ran a call a few days ago to an apartment where the tenant had her CO monitor go off on two occasions. The building is a late 1880s 3 storied tenement-like dwelling with an unconditioned dirty storage basement. A buddy of mine in the trade had gone there the previous night for a no-heat call and found that the line voltage was run through a light gauge extension cord without a ground plug and that the polarity was reversed. But he found no source of CO. He also found that the return grill in the floor was open to the basement and that the return duct was a singular length of uncapped 8*20*5' pulling air from the unfinished space.

By the time I got there someone had taken two flexible 8" rounds and tied them from the return up into an aluminum cooking pan, which was shoved into the hole in the floor of the tenant's apartment. At the base of the return drop is a cut out of about 14*25 off the right side of the blower wheel.

The furnace is a newer 80% 66k btu Goodman. Immediately at the left of the unit is a natural draft 40k btu water heater with a second water heater further into the rear of the basement. Both are piped into a dedicated brick chimney (the 2nd waterheater has its own chimney). There are glaring issues which anyone can spot readily. A simple glance at the proximity of the water heater to the furnace and return, broken gas cock for WH, furnace gas cock behind plenum, insufficient return, the extension cord etc. You get the point.

So I covered the 14*25 cutout at the side of the return and watched the combustion. None of my numbers from the furnace and both water heaters were inordinate. I did make an adjustment at her stove, which hit 300ppm starting cold and corrected that. At this point I am comfortable with the numbers, so it is time to address the code issues. The metal repair is rather simple. Maybe five or six hours at a relaxed pace with minimal supplies. Yet this is where I got the brush-off. Every concern or suggestion I had seemed to float right past the property owner. She insists that the furnace was installed by "sheet metal contractors", and that the gas was piped by union guys and that there is nothing wrong with taking air from the basement: "air from upstair or air from downstairs, what's the difference", she told the tenant.

The tenant has paid me for that visit. She will be getting a low level CO monitor soon. The installers are apparently coming back to discuss this, but they say there is nothing wrong. I have offered to fix the entire thing for free if those installers can provide me with a letter stating their position that the installation as it was when I got there meets code, with their letterhead and license # on it.

I am not expecting to hear back from them.

The thing which really pisses me off is the smug disregard the property owner had for any suggestion I had that this was an unsafe install. She seemed to approach me as if I was trying to take her for a ride. Thank goodness that phones take pictures

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