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Thread: vent free

  1. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    S.E. Pa
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    6,175

    Question Whoof! And they're off and running!!!

    Boy, if there is one debate that's hot, its this one.

    This is clearly more than just chocolate vs. vanilla--get's getting to be as controversial as abortion!

    I think everyone will agree the bulk of the problems with VF have come from:
    -unit sold into an unsuitable application
    -improper operation
    -lack of maintenance

    Not everyone previews the home before they sell hearth applianeces--ANY hearth appliance. Maybe we should...

    We base our selling off information provided not by a trained hearth professional but the uninformed lay public who btw, will alter the info. they provide you with just to steer a sale. This is akin to a doctor relying on the patient to tell him what to treat. We as an industry need to do a MUCH better job at qualifying prospects, matching their expectations with hearth appliances that will legally fit what they have.

    For instance, one of the biggest areas this industry falls down is selling hearth appliances into masonry fireplaces and chimneys. Unfortunately, there are still way too many shops that will stuff anything you want into any kind of chimney even without an NFPA Level II inspection. Wood insert stoves go in without liners. Even when they are lined, they rarely have the requisite insulation/ clearance to meet the UL 1777 listing. Vented logs are sold as a remedy for fireplaces and chimneys that are otherwise too scary for solid fuel. Yet, the gas codes, mfr. and listing tell us this is wrong.

    Are we so hell bent on the sale, we'd overlook these matters at the expense of a homeowner's well being? It's time this industry took a hard look at themselves.

    We have an inventory of products that are much safer yet far more realistic and aesthetically pleasing that what we sold 10-20 yrs ago. Now we must go about getting better at matching up the better appliance for the application and expection with the home. Sometimes this may mean selling a VF. Sometimes it may mean to walk away and just say No! My company's only VF is electric but I still recognize that inspite of the logic against it, inspite of the building science community's universal condemming of VF, inspite of a lot of other strikes against them, they have a rather good safety track record as far as current data sources tell us. Maybe there are many more problems we just don't hear about and have no way of tracking such as ill health as opposed to mortality/ morbidity figures from the gov't. However, until then, VF legally will continue to be sold.

    Off my soapbox...

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    12

    power

    I don't know - I can only tell you that there are literally millions of these things out there and I am unaware of anybody getting hurt. We are successful at selling the product and have thousands of happy customers in single family homes as well as commercial accounts where entire apartment buildings have them. We have a low percentage of problems and they are invariably just operator error or dirt.

    As far as CO, I have tested many of these units and the level of CO they produce is negligible (less than 7 ppm). The facts speak for themselves. As long as people maintain the unit it works flawlessly.

    That's all I know.

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    12

    once again hearthman

    Touche. As usual, better said than I. We here at our place actually do ask a laundry list of questions and make sure the options are covered before settling on any one product to sell someone. It is unethical to just sell anything just to sell it - qualifying the customer and educating the customer is where it all starts. This philosophy is ingrained in our approach to the sale and that is how a company can exist for over a century in one business.
    Have a good day - Thanks for your objective comments.

  4. #17
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    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
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    professionalism

    Hackman, you guys have been around for awhile and have developed a reputation. You have an excellent service tech, whom I've met. You are NFI certified and attend conventions and such to stay up on industry news. Qualifying a prospect cannot be overemphasized. The other part of that is documenting what you sold, what the expectations were, who is responsible for what, etc.,etc.

    It's just a shame more shops don't understand the level of professionalism they lack.

    Keep up the good fight, Ian.


    For those wondering, hackman is a good competitor of mine!

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    South Dakota
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    A ventless combustion system in perfect working order is still a hazard and can produce carbon monoxide in great quantities without anyone realizing it.

    If those of you who sell ventless systems really know your stuff and are the experts you claim to be then you will know the reason why what I just stated is absolutely true.

    If you don't know the reason then you are selling equipment that has the potential to kill the occupants of the space where the system is installed.

    Some of you need to do your homework. And yes, many people have become ill and/or died due to ventless combustion appliances and space heaters. All you have to do is a basic Internet search and you will turn up examples.


  6. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Lisle,Illinois
    Posts
    526

    Cool

    Norm,first please understand that I respect your opinion.Second,I am a strong supporter of direct vent,as a former distributor of Majestic and HeatnGlo I constantly walked the line between the devil and the dark blue sea.Best quote I ever saw in the business,"room vented appliance",best rebuttal,99%efficient.Don't get me wrong,with todays technology most of the time there is always a direct vent option,however,we are talking about a product that has been researched and engineered to death,limited by statute to a maximum output of 25k or less,and maligned by wisconsin,michigan,minnesota,and never with the exception of people with diminished lung capacity(usually smokers and broncitis suffer's)proven toxic.Please do not misunderstand,yet not all people have money to burn or homes so airtight that they are at risk.My biggest complaint about "vent free" is the lack of a truly realistic flame image.The engineered pilot assembly on these units does work and not to devalue what you are saying there are no(to the best of my knowledge)verifiable cases of injury directly attributable to a malfunctioning oxygen depletion sensor.Do I have a vent free fire place,no,but I am a neanderthall,I burn wood,so obviously I have no valid position.Thanks for reading my rant,Lyle.
    Ethics are as important as education.

  7. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada Occupation:Interprovincial Plumber, Commercial Gasfitter Interests:
    Posts
    2,412
    That's what bothers me. The o2 depletion sensor. Exactly how does it work?
    I love my job, but paydays Thursday

  8. #21
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    Sep 2002
    Location
    South Dakota
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    You totally missed my point. I am saying that a Perfectly Engineered, Perfectly Maintained and correctly installed ventless combustion in Perfect working order can all of a sudden produce and fill a home with carbon monoxide! People inside become ill or even die!

    A day later the same system can be working fine, not producing any carbon monoxide at all.

    Are you aware of this?


  9. #22
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    Aug 2004
    Location
    S.E. Pa
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    potential versus statistics

    Norm, don't get me wrong-- I don't sell VF unless it's electric but until statistics and the courts prove why they should be outlawd, VF will continue to be sold.

    Our legal system's idea of product liability centers around what is "reasonably forseeable" as a hazard. Once you get into court, the admissibility of evidence has changed drastically since Daubert v. Merrill Dow. There are now "Daubert" hearings before the trial to assess the admissibility of evidence. It all has to do with peer review, generally accepted stds., state of the art, etc.

    In the case with VF, since there is no clear cut consensus, this would have to be fought out in court. At this point you are talking about potential injury, suspected injury, etc. Do you know of cases where it was proved in court VF were the cause to the exclusion of other possibilities? What was the problem? Were they properly sized and installed? Operation? Maintenance?

    Quite frankly, I'm a helluva lot more afraid of Cat.1 water heaters and gas cook stoves. I have seen these backdraft easily. I have treated CO victims from gas ovens back when I was a paramedic. Why is it gas ovens are not required to interlock the exhaust fan to the burners? Heck, I've seen tons that don't even vent to the outdoors. They often now use those microwave/fans set up to recirculate and filter (joke) rather than exhaust.

    Our company used to sell VF and quit because of the high service rates for excessive heat perceived, odors, and shutting off from clogged primary air holes due to no maint. The hassles and risks to us weren't worth it.

    Each company must decide for now. Maybe one day the courts will. Norm, if you have information regarding this, we would all be interested in hearing it.

    Thx

  10. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    South Dakota
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    You sell a high quality ventless heater in perfect working order and install it correctly. I works perfectly as designed and is well engineered.

    A year later the occupants decide to have double glass weather tight windows installed. They also weather strip all the doors in the house. They take all the steps to tighten up the home and make it energy efficient.

    They may also have a ventless range and oven as well as the ventless heater. One day they are running both. The exhaust fan above the range is exhausting cooking smells and someone is in the bathroom running the exhaust fan there as well.

    The interior building pressure becomes negative with respect to the outside.

    Both ventless appliances need the oxygen in the air to burn efficiently. They continue to operate and are unable to get enough oxygen. The longer they operate the less efficient they become and they both produce great quantities of carbon monoxide.

    With the negative building pressure the generated CO permeates the entire home. Nobody notices since CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless.

    The occupants become ill and assume they are all coming down with the flu. If they remain in the home they may die.

    This not only can happen but does happen!

    There are no safe ventless combustion systems. What seems to be safe one day can quickly turn into a killing machine by simply changing the operating conditions that are seemingly unrelated to the appliances themselves.

    This is why many local communities pass codes overriding the national codes. I suspect that the reason that the national codes do not change their code is because of the pressure from the ventless manufacturers.

    What the courts decide has no bearing on the actual safety of the equipment. Courts do not dictate the facts of how buildings and combustion systems react to changing conditions. The laws of physics do not abide by the laws of the state.

    Norm

  11. #24
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    Nov 2002
    Location
    Lisle,Illinois
    Posts
    526

    Cool

    Someone asked how the oxygen depletion sensor worked.Quite simply it is a thermocouple pilot burner assemmbly with the pilot flame at approximately a 45degee angle to the thermocouple/thermopile tip.The stated concept is that should the oxygen level be reduced beyond saftey limits the flame will lift off the tip shutting down the appliance.
    Ethics are as important as education.

  12. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada Occupation:Interprovincial Plumber, Commercial Gasfitter Interests:
    Posts
    2,412
    What is the safe level for o2?
    I love my job, but paydays Thursday

  13. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    23

    thanks

    Thanks for the opinions. As far as oversizing is concerned my unit has a thermostat and adjust the flame accordingly. It does not seem to be a problem. It could use a cleaning. I will follow the manufacturers instructions and clean it properly. I would not want to depend on the unit to functions daily for my primary heat source but it seems to work fine for auxilary heat in the basement.

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