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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2019
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    Help with a home heating issue causing headaches

    Folks -

    Whenever my heater gets turned on I seem to get a headache. But nobody in my family does get the same headache I get...and the CO monitors don't ring any alarms.

    I assumed this is some kind of CO leakage or other gas leaking into the house from the furnace. Probably in smaller quantities not enough to trigger the CO alarm.I got a reputed heating company to come and take a look and they told me only one of the 4 burners is working and they need to change the gas valve. And that is a reason why the furnace is not working well... And also some cleaning was required. Given how ignorant I was about the furnace I agreed to it and signed their papers to get a valve and a future maintenance in six months !

    And then I started reading up on furnaces, saw a couple of youtube videos, got to this site yesterday and decided to post. To me it doesn't seem like the gas valves not working will trigger any leaks as the leaks will come from the heat exchangers or the exhaust flue pipes ? So this professional was a bit off in his diagnosis or is there a chance that a non working gas valve can trigger any leaks ?

    Looking for pointers - thanks !

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Off the shelf UL listed CO alarms will not trip until 70 PPM. You could have 69 PPM in your home and it’ll never set the detectors off.
    By contrast most fire departments will not enter a home without breathing apparatus if CO is over ~20 PPM.
    Low level CO alarms are what you want.
    What make and model furnace is this?
    It’s very dangerous is only one burner is working. It could cause CO poisoning or an explosion from raw unburned gas.
    I havent failed. Ive just found 10,000 ways that wont work. - Thomas Edison

    Its not whether you get knocked down, its whether you get up. - Vince Lombardi

    "In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics" - Homer Simpson

    Local 486 Instructor & Service Technician

  3. #3
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    Dec 2019
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by rider77 View Post
    Off the shelf UL listed CO alarms will not trip until 70 PPM. You could have 69 PPM in your home and itll never set the detectors off.
    By contrast most fire departments will not enter a home without breathing apparatus if CO is over ~20 PPM.
    Low level CO alarms are what you want.
    What make and model furnace is this?
    Its very dangerous is only one burner is working. It could cause CO poisoning or an explosion from raw unburned gas.
    Thank you - I am not turning on the heater till the valve is replaced. Can you recommend low level CO monitors ?

    Also can you confirm if only one or 2 of the burners are operational can that really emit CO into the house or any other gases?

    Thanks!

  4. #4
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    Dec 2019
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    Thread Starter
    I dont know the make and model - need to go up the attic to find it ...

  5. #5
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    If the burner isn’t lit there isn’t CO, but there could be raw gas.
    What did the tech say about the burners not firing?
    If the burners are firing poorly excess CO can be produced.
    I havent failed. Ive just found 10,000 ways that wont work. - Thomas Edison

    Its not whether you get knocked down, its whether you get up. - Vince Lombardi

    "In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics" - Homer Simpson

    Local 486 Instructor & Service Technician

  6. #6
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    Dec 2019
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by rider77 View Post
    If the burner isnt lit there isnt CO, but there could be raw gas.
    What did the tech say about the burners not firing?
    If the burners are firing poorly excess CO can be produced.

    Thank you rider ! The tech said one of the 4 burners was firing all the time , one was lit and then shutdown, two never came on

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    State College, PA
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    I think you could call the gas company or fire department to do a CO test for your home. That should give you some piece of mind until you get the low level CO detectors installed. Also alleviate your headaches.

    I think if you do a search on this site, someone will have mentioned low level CO detectors. Also try Google.
    Can someone please explain to me -
    Why is there never enough time to do it right the first time, but plenty of time to do it twice?


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  8. #8
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    Dec 2019
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    Thread Starter
    Quote Originally Posted by joemach View Post
    I think you could call the gas company or fire department to do a CO test for your home. That should give you some piece of mind until you get the low level CO detectors installed. Also alleviate your headaches.

    I think if you do a search on this site, someone will have mentioned low level CO detectors. Also try Google.
    Thank you joemach !

  9. #9
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    CAUTION!

    You have a very serous condition that could cause death!

    Turn the furnace off until it's properly repaired or replaced!

    I suppose it's possible that a bad gas valve could cause only one burner to fire, but I've never seen it in my 48 years in the trade.

    I would make that tech guarantee in writing that changing the gas valve and cleaning will fix the the issue and that the furnace will be safe to operate. A manometer and digital combustion analyzer should be used to confirm that and the results printed out and given to you. Accept nothing less.
    Bob Boan


    ​You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Southold, NY
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    The tech servicing your furnace should have a personal CO monitor on him! Ask him / her what its reading?

    There are several Low Level CO monitors on the market.

    Defender is one

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Beatrice, NE
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    To follow along with others I don't see how a bad valve can cause only 1 burner to operate. If this is a furnace with electronic ignition I don't see how it would light/stay lit as the flame sensor/board will not let it light if flame is present and if only one burner lights it will shut the whole thing down.

    Did the tech do a combustion analysis on the furnace? That would show how much CO it was producing. Did he leave it operational? I would hope not. The dangers of delayed ignition are nothing to take lightly. Did he check gas pressure? That can affect how burners light and burn. Is this LP or natural?

  12. #12
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    May 2000
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    Indianapolis, IN, USA
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  13. #13
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    Sep 2007
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    edmonds wa
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    After reading all, i might suggest a second opinion, something does not sound right, especially with what was reported to you and if they left the furnace operating. And i also think your gas provider and or fire dept would be a good call. Some gas company's also do some minor levels of repairs and safety inspections.
    UA Local 32 retired as of Jan 2020

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