2000ppm in cellar..feeling woozy..RUN!
Crappy rental property, owner calls stating maintenance is tired of re-lighting pilot light of furnace. Showed up and meet tenants and was taken back to an old cellar in the back of the home. No door just cement steps down into the dark. Waiting for my eyes to adjust to get my bearings I started to see green spots and felt woozy.
Been through CO and combustion training and have almost been wiped off the face of the earth years prior in a boiler room with large amounts of CO, that my spider senses triggered and I was out of that cellar.
Shut the gas off at the meter and grabbed my dedicated CO monitor. It has the verbal option which blurts out the ppm every minute or so. This has become my buddy in old boiler rooms hanging on the wall while I work.
At the door I get 30ppm, tape the end to a 10ft piece of PVC laying on the ground and insert it in the cellar and my buddy is chatting back from the darkness...2020ppm.
Tenant had a fan, held my breath and placed it at the base of steps and left it running for a few hours. In the home I was only getting about 20ppm in the bedrooms, but 70ppm in the kitchen closest to cellar....told tenants to leave until things settled down. THANK GOD, cellar is not directly under home, cellar door was broken and left open and what little flooring near this cellar was the kitchen with three layers of laminate, the place they married the cellar to the home, they busted through to the 1 foot crawler to run a few flex runs, this was ventilated or these tenants wouldn't be around.
Here is what I finally found when it was safe to enter.
1) New water heater was installed a week prior by this maintenance guy. Too tall, so maintenance guy dumped the diverter and just placed the flue pipe directly on top.
2) Old Lennox G12 must have been found somewhere, scrapped, and thrown in 4 inch flue dropped into the manufacturer 6 inch and taped off. All the exchangers sooted near closed...
3) Panels long gone, sheet metal used as blower door
Could go on and on.
Another rental property disaster diverted...so happy 99% of my stuff is commercial. Figure fate would have it that I was asked to look at this job instead of one of our newbies...don't think they would have had the experience to know CO poisoning, and tragedy could have happened.Our company replaced the furnace, water heater, and landlord learned a valuable lesson about cheap maintenance guys.
so.....where is all the CO coming from?
have a "eddy" current from high of draft which is causing spillage at the draft diverter on furnace?
or is the flue clogged and it's spilling out the draft diverter of the furnace?
or is the sheet metal blower door causing a negative in CAZ ?
You name it....didn't care to figure out exact cause. Severely sooted exchangers and diverter...so assume furnace. Just shut off gas, called owner and next day they gutted and replaced everything.
Originally Posted by gravity
Frickin' criminal. That was close to being a news story.
I'm guessing the combustion was spilling? Like Gravity I'm curious where the co was coming from.
I would want to figure out what caused it to soot.
It is really hard to soot up a NG unit.
Maybe that fancy 6-4 reducer, the nice venting on that water heater probably tees in with the furnace vent, that and years of neglect.
Sometimes in these cases, the saying "curiosity kills the cat", could apply hear. CO was there and at deadly levels, not about to turn on gas, relight appliances, and dink around. One look at the equipment, installation, flue, and every other thing was enough for me to call "time-out", call in the troops, and get rid of this entire monstrosity.
If I had to speculate:
I believe the furnace was involved in a flood in it's prior life, there is a water line on furnace, with rusting, hard to explain but you all know what I mean. It was removed to be scrapped and some how some way ended up here. I believe those ribbon burners and cross-overs were probably clogged to the hilt and back. Signs of severe roll-out...thus the pilot always going out. On top of this the dirty burners probably were generating a real crappy mix ratio and causing sooting. Sooting is like a snow fall, just builds in layers and finally over time slowly restricts the heat exchangers. The restricted path for the vent gases, plus the improper flue, with what I assume minimal draft, lead to a good percentage of the high CO level vent gases to dump into the cellar.
My opinion, and I think a pretty educated one at that.
I agree, who cares what was causing it? Its enough to know co was high and that there was multiple possible causes. Just rip it out and bring it all to code.
Good thing you got out of there alive!
This is why I don't go anywhere without a CO monitor clipped to my belt. It is a rare day where it doesn't show at least 15 ppm.
Worry is a really gross misuse of one's imagination. -- PHM
Yikes. Did the people living there go buy a lottery ticket after this?