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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    254

    Noxious fiberglass odor when heater running

    My new 2 month old install of Carrier 38hdr and Performance series went well.
    Backround: Small 887 sq. ft condo unit with the furnace and coil unit in one of those small hallway closets. Generous return right below at same.

    As you all know...when an AC is going, the air is so cool...whatever odor problems are reduced, much like an apple going bad in the fridge.

    I fired up the furnace and am getting the unmistakeable chemical smell most of you can recognize instantly as the fiberglass material that makes up plenum boards. Believe me, it can't be mistaken for oil on a new coil assembly.

    The pic below will serve as some kind of reference.

    Right above the coil unit is a plenum. When I press on it...it sounds like
    galvanized plenum. They wrapped it in what you see.
    There were a number of minor air leaks outside that wrap that you could feel. No problem...just few pieces of tape here and there. No biggie at all.

    I believe that somehow, when the hot air is running up that plenum...it's catching the back side of the plenum wrap and is somehow transporting the
    unmistakeble smell of fiberglass-chemical smell thru the ducts.

    Anyways...I was hoping someone here has actually taken a good smell of
    plenum board fiberglass...I have ziplocked a piece for my installer company to compare when furnace exaggerates it. It's an unmistakeable smell.

    They may have to yank the furnace out to correct the problem. For a good company...is that a big deal?

    1. Can anyone relate to that chemical fiberglass smell? I am getting to be a pro at it and I'm no HVAC guy.

    2. The plenum off the coil unit seems to be metal, but why can I be feeiling air from minor tears from the wrap? (dings happen, tape is fine).

    Could this be where hot air during furnace runnning is heating up the backside of the fiberglass silver wrap and thus causing that chemical smell?

    I added some DynaMat, but it doesn't even get luke warm before I start smelling chemical fiberglass smell, so plz don't bring that up. Dynamat is
    totally neutral smelling, even if put on a spoon and heated like a junkie.

    OF course your not going to smell this problem with 54.5 F air. OR even with Fan On.
    Send thru 119 F hot air...and ohhhh baby. Something in the install went wrong just above the coil unit...that's my guess. Otherwise they did a neat job. P.S. it was a new install replacement on existing plenum. Also, notice the tape at ceiling. I felt cool air being wasted there until they taped it. I have a feeling someone of you know exactly whats going on with this situation. Some type of coil unit to plenum install problem with hot air heating up fiberglass wrap. Guys..that smell is so unmistakeable, (I'm guessing).


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,727
    Fiberglass insulation, doesn't have an odor, from 119° air being blown through, or on it.
    (duct board, is made from fiberglass, and is used for hot air systems)

    Looks more like bubble wrap, not fiberglass.

    Could be from that single wall pipe being that close to the bubble wrap.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    254
    So sorry...you're wrong. I just told you I had a sample of fiberglass material plenum type in a plastic bag. For reference.

    You want me to send you a sample and sniff it?

    WTF? No odor?

    Jeesh! I know you are well known here, but for you to tell me that plenum/wrap fiberglass has absolutely no odor is just rediculous. It does. Damn. You just dropped off in expertise here a bit.

    For you to tell me that that well known insulation fiberglass plenum/ductboard chemical smell is unknown to you.... is whatever. It's a unique smell. Smells like 21st century plastic smell.

    Fiberglass material is NOT odor neutral. Get that straight.

    My guess is that the installers linked up the AC handler to the plenum without it being a totally clean tight air flow transition. The newly installed AC coil unit transition to the old plenum
    now has a new"fiberglass wrap."

    I simply don't know where that chemical smell is coming from if not from the new install.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Zelienople, Pa
    Posts
    2,965
    Caslon,
    Just a bit of advice.
    Stop being a smart ass to the members here or you will end up being banned soon.

    GSH~
    How tall are you Private???!!!!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,727
    1000s upon 1000s of systems are installed with fiberglass ductboard.
    And just as many with fiberglass wrap. And are exposed to temps higher then you posted. And no odor.

    Yours has a smell. Its not caused by the fiberglass. Something else is causing it.


    Maybe its caused by the water that layed in the drain pan.

    You don't know, so your just blaming it on the fiberglass.

    Until the installer checks it, your just using tunnel vision.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    4H: Hot, Humid Houston H.O.
    Posts
    3,304
    Caslon, I believe a retraction and apology would be beneficial to all concerned. Beenthere is one of the most prolific and helpful people on this board, and in any case where there is a disagreement about HVAC facts, I would lean heavily toward believing him rather than the other guy. Fiberglass has no smell of its own. Fiberglass is glass, spun into tiny strands. Do any other of the glass things in your house, have a "glass" smell? I am a homeowner and can say yes Caslon, you have been rather off-putting in your strident response to Beenthere. It would have been far more productive to avoid implying incompetence and focus on 1) what you perceive, and 2) alternatives to your statement. No doubt there is something other than the fiberglass in that material, and you smell the other material.

    Regards -- Pstu

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    254
    Apologies all around, only ban me if you tell me plenum board/duct board insulation has no odor at all. Do me that before banning me.

    It has an odor...a 23rd century kinda chemical smell. I've bought a 10' x 8' sheet of it from my installer.

    Ban me now if the admin thinks I'm lying and it's completely odor neutral.

    Hell, I am trying to track down this units smell that I am well familiar with.

    I've ripped out $200+ of sound absorbing materials I bought.

    I even ripped out the plenum board they lined my little AC closet with.
    No small feat for a tight condo HVAC closet.

    Alll...to try and eliminate all sources of that unmistakeable smell.

    So don't tell me I am insulting long time regulars here. I am not.

    Someone in the know will say it has to do with the transition between the air coil unit and the plenum...or something like that.

    Someone helpfull. Someone who has sniffed that smell of insulation gotten heated up to 119 F.
    It's kind of an unmistakeable smell for anything else but plenum board/duct board insulation.

    BeenThere...I'm thinking a faulty install of the transition between the air coil unit and plenum is allowing hot air to intermix with the wrap and send out the smell of the insulation of the "wrap".
    BeenThere would acknowlege this and not tell me to haul ass.

    No freaking fiberglass plenum/duct board is totally neurtal smelling.

    I can pound my hand on the plenum leading up to attic and it's metal...yet, I can detect small leaks outside of the fiberglass wrap of same.. Neutral smelling fiberglass. Uh-Uh. 23rd century tech smell.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,727
    Fiberglass insulation is subjected to temps in excess of 135°F in many attics.
    These people are not getting an odor.

    Commercial unts with sheet metal duct are wrapped in the same insulation. 1,000,000's of sq ft of it.
    Trust me, in an office enviroment, if it was putting off an odor, they would call non stop, till it was removed and replaced.

    The duct board in your attic was subjected to more then 119°F heat this summer, and you didn't get the smell.

    Fiberglass can absorb ordors.

    You have gone to a lot of tear out work. But I don't see where you said you called the contractor about the odor, or what he said about it.

    Your wrap, could have gotten wet, in storage before it was used. And have a mold/bacteria in it.

    Wraps, don't put odor into the air stream of a duct system, since they are on the outside.

    Where does the combustion air for your furnace come from.

    New duct board, has new duct board smell/odor. Its glued to the foil backing.

    Cars have new car smell.

    Don't recall ever having a complaint of an odor from it when a customer switched from cooling to heating mode. That it was the duct board. ( the coil, wet insulation/duct board, etc).

    If duct board gets an objectable odor. Something else is the cause of it.

    Is there any mastic in the air stream.

    There is an electrical device in your furnace (its in 99% of all funaces) that can cause a sickening odor to many people. And it does tend to happen when switching from one mode to the next. And its caused by a wiring problem 80% of the time.

    If its that device, 90% of all service techs know that smell, and will know what to look for.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    in
    Posts
    36
    so what your saying is your GLASS windows smell? guess i better get the wife on cleaning them. you are probably smelling the glue or whatever you used to quiet your system. if it was me i would void your warranty because you cant keep your hands off your system. i used to be a insulation installer and fiberglass itself does not smell.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    254
    Actually...fiberglass in ductboard/plenum has a very detectable noticable odor under furnace heat.

    How about you say it doesn't. You put up 10 grand and I will do the same as a bet.

    You will lose big time.

    That smell is originating from other than my return space, and...I seriously doubt it's some residue on the condenser.

    That leaves the area above the air handler/coil unit as the culprit.

    I just got thru saying that it might be the wrap, but you bet your freaking life that insulation of this type has no smell when heated up to 119 F.

    You and those that say 119F on insulation wrap leakage getting into airflow and has no odor on a small condo unit...probably have never even had such an event happen in your toiling. So wtf do you know about it?

    What's your solution? Also your point besides your head. All forms of insulation smell. Nothing is totally neutral smelling. When put under heat...whatever smell they have is
    magnified.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    in
    Posts
    36
    Quote Originally Posted by caslon View Post
    Actually...fiberglass in ductboard/plenum has a very detectable noticable odor under furnace heat.

    How about you say it doesn't. You put up 10 grand and I will do the same as a bet.

    You will lose big time.

    That smell is originating from other than my return space, and...I seriously doubt it's some residue on the condenser.

    That leaves the area above the air handler/coil unit as the culprit.

    I just got thru saying that it might be the wrap, but you bet your freaking life that insulation of this type has no smell when heated up to 119 F.

    You and those that say 119F on insulation wrap leakage getting into airflow and has no odor on a small condo unit...probably have never even had such an event happen in your toiling. So wtf do you know about it?
    since you know it all why are you even here asking questions? maybe you should have done a DIY install so the only *****ing you could do would have been to you? then the noise level and smell would have been your own voice and the smell of your breath

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lincoln, Nebraska
    Posts
    1,051
    Could it be that the smell from the sound board stuff that you put in the return air got absorbed into the fiberglass in the furnace and is now causing the oder? That would be my guess that it is somthing that you did and I would think it may work itself out over time.
    Its a good Life!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    254
    Insulation fiberglass material isn't odor free.
    Especially duct board, or wrap used.

    I'm wondering how 119 F gets that smell into my area so heavy.

    The plenum above my air handler is wrapped with that stuff, up one foot or so to the attic.
    Yet, when I pound on the side of it...it's metal.

    So...why am I feeling air leaks from the wrap that can be easily wrapped with tape?

    I'm thinking that the wrap has a fiberglass backing and is not all the neutral smelling as many stake their lives on. That chemical fiberglass smell is magnified 10 times by 119F heat and is going out thru the registers.

    Just one last thing...how many of you have really sniffed the back of plenum board/duct board spun glass? It has a smell.
    None!!! LOL ya...right.

    It has an unmistakable chemical smell when exposed to moderate heat and sent thru a heating system.

    I bought a huge 10x6 sheet of it and sniffed it like a doggy. It smells, trust me..heh.

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