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  1. #1
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    Gas furnace causing intense skin itching/burning and other symptoms

    Hello. So I had a contractor install an interior drain tile system into our basement last November. In the process, the contractor jackhammered up the concrete slab and created an insane amount of concrete and demo dust. The contractor did nothing to mitigate the dust. The contractor also did not protect or cover/wrap our furnace or duct work and the dust made its way into the furnace and duct work. Ever since, weve been experiencing terrible itchy/burning skin, dry cough, ear pain, dizziness and shortness of breath. Ive had the furnace serviced and the ducts cleaned twice with zero improvement. I also had an IQ AIR PERFECT 16 filter installed, which has helped with decreasing the dusty smell. But, our symptoms remain. Ive been noticing this week that the condense water drain pipe hasnt been draining properly, appears backed up and bone dry where its supposed to empty into a gutter downspout. Im pretty certain the furnace is off gassing. We had the gas company come out to check for a CO leak and it was negative. The itching/burning and related symptoms only happen when the furnace is on and burning. And if I turn off the furnace during the day and open all the windows, our symptoms disappear. Does anyone know what the cause could possibly be? The furnace is only a year old and we were not experiencing any of this prior to the construction. Thank you!!!

  2. #2
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    Jul 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonjallen View Post
    We had the gas company come out to check for a CO leak and it was negative. The itching/burning and related symptoms only happen when the furnace is on and burning. And if I turn off the furnace during the day and open all the windows, our symptoms disappear. Does anyone know what the cause could possibly be?
    Was the gas company checking for natural gas leaks or actually testing for levels of Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

    Were they testing at the equipment (furnace) or in the occupied spaces of the home?

    Do you have a gas water heater in the home?

    Do you have a Low Level CO monitor in your home?

    Can you find and post the model number of the furnace?
    Instead of learning the tricks of the trade, learn the trade.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonjallen View Post
    I’ve been noticing this week that the condense water drain pipe hasn’t been draining properly, appears backed up and bone dry where it’s supposed to empty into a gutter downspout. !
    Can you explain this better.
    The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and stamps EVER.
    Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals". Their stated reason for this policy "... the animals become dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves."
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  4. #4
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    Apr 2020
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    Thread Starter
    Rundawg,

    I believe the gas company just checked for natural gas leaks. And they just tested around the furnace itself.

    No gas water heater.

    We have CO monitors but they only start reading at 30ppm.

    We have a American Standard Silver Series. Model: AUH1B040A9241CB

    Thank you!

  5. #5
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    Apr 2020
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    Thread Starter
    PACNW,

    Im in Seattle. To answer your question: The drain tube coming out of the condense pump looks totally full of yellowish fluid. Theres a slight leak where the tube connects to the pump. When I touch where it connects, its damp. Also, the tube exist the house wall to the exterior and drains into a gutter down spout. But Ive notice that even where the furnace is on and pumping at night, theres no water dripping out. Thanks!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonjallen View Post
    Rundawg,

    I believe the gas company just checked for natural gas leaks. And they just tested around the furnace itself.

    No gas water heater.

    We have CO monitors but they only start reading at 30ppm.

    We have a American Standard Silver Series. Model: AUH1B040A9241CB

    Thank you!
    Thank you for the info.

    You don’t have one, but I was concerned that a natural draft water heater (gas) was possibly back drafting, causing CO to enter your home.

    I’m glad that scenario has been eliminated, because more water heaters cause CO poisonings of the occupants of a home, than furnaces.

    To get measurable CO at a register, or in the occupied spaces from a cracked heat exchanger, a furnace has to be making seriously high levels of CO, or it has to have been making CO over a long period of time.

    So without being there to do my own CO testing, I would be inclined to say, that may not be your issue.

    I will add, that having a CO monitor that reads levels in the single digits (less than 10 ppm), and alarms at levels around 15 ppm, would be in your best interest.

    With that said, my next course of action if I was your technician, would be trying to determine if you have some return duct leakage that may be pulling caustic chemicals into your home from a garage, crawl space, or even an attic.

    Internet troubleshooting is a pain, and pure guesswork, without being there to see the entire picture.

    Thanks for your understanding.
    Instead of learning the tricks of the trade, learn the trade.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonjallen View Post
    The drain tube coming out of the condense pump looks totally full of yellowish fluid. Theres a slight leak where the tube connects to the pump. When I touch where it connects, its damp. Also, the tube exist the house wall to the exterior and drains into a gutter down spout. But Ive notice that even where the furnace is on and pumping at night, theres no water dripping out. Thanks!
    Is this condense pump you are talking about, external to the furnace?
    Instead of learning the tricks of the trade, learn the trade.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2018
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    Chico, Ca #StateofJefferson
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    The fluid isnt likely yellow, that's just the color the drain piping out of the pump turns with time, I've seen that on 100%? of condensate pumps I run across. My most immediate concern would be CO exposure as it can build up in the body but I have heard of the reactions your describing from people living in proximity to a concrete/cement plant. The contractor you used was negligent in his job and now you have likely have that dust all over the blower wheel, evap coil and heat exchanger. This can be cleaned but will be fairly laborious or nearly impossible depending on how severe your reaction is to that stuff. You also need to make sure that the pump is getting the water out of the building and that it's not pooling somewhere causing biological growth

  9. #9
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    I would suggest turning the hvac system off and operating the fan only to see if the conditions are still present. This would rule out combustion and drainage. If the conditions still exist, I would suggest having a professional assess the duct system and furnace for dust/debris and clean it. The solution to pollution is dilution..

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    ...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kangaroogod View Post
    I would suggest turning the hvac system off and operating the fan only to see if the conditions are still present. This would rule out combustion and drainage. If the conditions still exist, I would suggest having a professional assess the duct system and furnace for dust/debris and clean it. The solution to pollution is dilution..

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
    If God didn't want us to eat animals... He wouldn't have made them out of MEAT.

  11. #11
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    Apr 2020
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    Thread Starter
    Thanks for all the feedback.

    I run the blower fan all the time and our symptoms definitely decrease without the heat going. Its when the heat is blowing that the itching skin and for me internal ear pain immediately begins. At this point, its borderline unbearable. We had yet another HVAC company out last Saturday to inspect and they said the condense pump and heat exchanger look fine. They scoped it. Because of COVID no one will deep clean the furnace or do duct cleaning, which I get. The itchy/burning skin and other reactions are bizarre. Im going to have air quality testing done to try to pin point the source. Im figuring that we must be having allergic reactions to whatever it is. And again, the symptoms are immediate and penetrate through our clothing. The HVAC company that originally installed the furnace also confirmed today that the furnace warranty is void since it had concrete dust infiltrate it. Yesterday I decided to file an insurance claim with my homeowners policy to try and have the contractor who created the problem cover the damage costs. Ugh.
    Last edited by Lonjallen; 04-08-2020 at 03:12 AM. Reason: Typos

  12. #12
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    Apr 2020
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    Just to clarify, Ive had at least five HVAC companies out to try and figures this thing out, with zero results or helpful suggestions. Ive also had the ducts cleaned three times by same company, with no improvement. Infuriating!!!

    Help please?!?!

  13. #13
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    Apr 2020
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    Thread Starter
    Also, is it at all possible that the initial inundation of the furnace and ductwork with the concrete and demo dust could be causing the furnace to not be properly combusting, or producing some toxic chemical via combustion? Again, before all the construct the furnace and air quality were great and never experienced these symptoms,

    Thanks all!

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