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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Loveland, CO
    Posts
    13

    Gas Fireplace smells

    Hello,

    I have a customer with a strange problem. the Heatilator Nat. gas fireplace that was installed in his home in 1996 has had a strange smell when it is fired since he moved in. He has had about ten different companies out to try and resolve the problom but none have helped him. I am a HVAC business owner and I used to install and service fireplaces with a previous company. We have cleaned every nook and cranny of this unit, checked for CO, tried dampering freshair inlet on draft hood, Did a 10 hour burn and still the smell persists. the homeowner removed all drywall from around the unit to see if anything had been left there from new construction and still nothing. I am a little lost on what my next step should be. I thought maybe installing a power venter on it might help by creating a bit more of a negative pressure in the unit but have never seen this done to a fireplace and wonder if it is safe and or a plausable solution. The unit is a three sided heatilator model # GC920E-NAT. it has a standard b-vent flue and a 4" combustion air line. any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire England
    Posts
    405
    What does the smell smell of, rotten cabbage, eggs, metal?
    Martyn

    50 & 60 hz but 100's worse

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Loveland, CO
    Posts
    13
    it smells just like when you first fire up a fireplace. like burning dust. that would be my best description.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire England
    Posts
    405
    Have you performed a spillage test? I had a problem like this with my gas fire when I bought my house. It had been installed for a few years and had no chimney liner and the chimney hadn't been swept before the fire was installed. And there was lumps of soot that had fallen down inside the chimney causing a restriction. So the smell of hot dust was present when the fire was on full.

    I don't know about where you live, but in the UK a gas fire has to be on for at least ten minutes before a spillage test can be carried out. It gives the airways a chance to expand and fully open up.
    Martyn

    50 & 60 hz but 100's worse

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    393
    Try taking the logs off of the burner and burn it to see if the smell goes away. If the smell goes away, you have found your problem.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Loveland, CO
    Posts
    13
    not sure what you mean by spillage test. The unit does have a 5" double wall metal vent all the way through the roof. about a 20' run with 2 45 degree turns.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Loveland, CO
    Posts
    13
    I will try removing the logs, thanks for the advice.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    374
    Quote Originally Posted by sasquatch1981 View Post
    not sure what you mean by spillage test. The unit does have a 5" double wall metal vent all the way through the roof. about a 20' run with 2 45 degree turns.
    Hold a match in front of the drafthood - see if - on start up you have products of combustion coming back in the house. Negative pressure in the house will blow the match out. Get a co detector and run it around the glass gasket and all around the unit. See if you have any co - if you do then you have a problem.........

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    West Yorkshire England
    Posts
    405
    Quote Originally Posted by sasquatch1981 View Post
    not sure what you mean by spillage test. The unit does have a 5" double wall metal vent all the way through the roof. about a 20' run with 2 45 degree turns.
    A spillage test is when you check for fumes flowing back into the room or compartment where the gas appliance is installed. You can use a smoke match and hold it above where the flame passes over the pots or effect blocks, and where it goes up through the top of the fire and into the flue. (the draught hood ascan2man calls it)

    Or try what log_docrob says first.
    Last edited by chilliwilly; 01-04-2010 at 06:38 PM. Reason: missing text
    Martyn

    50 & 60 hz but 100's worse

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Madison, WI
    Posts
    1,078
    The unit should have a hi limit spill switch. I have seen where techs find the problem that the unit keeps going out and not knowing what the spill switch is for, they disconnect it. That fixes the problem of the unit going out.... but now it is exhausting into the room.

    I would close all doors and windows in the house, run for 10 minutes or so, then check for CO coming out, as well as doing a spill test with a smoke source. The smoke should be pulled in and up the flue if drafting properly.

    You mentioned you checked for CO, but not any specifics, so you may have done this already?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Loveland, CO
    Posts
    13
    I did check for co at all edges of the glass and will try the spill test on my next appointment, although I did run my co test for a long time and picked up nothing through out the entire house and also nothing just outside draft opening nor did i pick anything up around all edges of the glass. I even tested with two seperate co detectors just to be 100%. I could however smell the smell every time I ran the unit. the smell seemed to come from specific areas like the top corners of the glass especially on the oppisite side from the draft passage.

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