So she hired an independent furnace installer to completely dismantle the furnace. Technical note: the seasonal efficiency of oil fired heating equipment declines between service calls - that's the normal result of soot accumulation. Learn the possible cause of soot stains near a heat vent. Warm air furnaces are discussedat FURNACES, HEATING, and problems with loss of heat are discussed, A discussion of our page top photo and those rusty sooty fragments in view is found, Separately, diagnosing black stains on indoor surfaces in the living space, possibly caused by oil fired equipment sooty operation or puffbacks, is discussed. And he was convinced that the furnace could not be the source of the problem. and GAS FIRED WATER HEATERS for safety warnings about soot at heating appliances. We just installed new oil burner last year in [our] house. The draft diverter regulates the draft through the heat exchanger and prevents downdrafts from blowing into the heat exchanger. It was a thorough investigation that turned up absolutely nothing. Where a heating boiler was nearly blocked solid with soot, we've measured flue temperatures close to the boiler of over 1000 degrees F.! Steve Klossner, of Lakeland, Minnesota, studied unexplained CO alarm soundings. If a gas fired appliance is producing soot, it should be turned off and Immediate service is needed. Glancing down, I noticed that Donna's 1997 sport utility vehicle had a clean tailpipe, while the tailpipe of Jim's van was caked with black soot. So if the thickness of the soot you see in the flue vent connector, looking in at the barometric damper is 1/8" thick or more, the system should be cleaned and tuned. And since this is an open front model, this can be entering into your living spaces. The soot insulates the heat exchanger causing less heat to pass through the heat exchanger … She had called the water heater manufacturer, who had told her the fan delay on the vent fan of the water heater was normal, and that the water heater couldn't be contributing to the problem if it was burning cleanly. However, excessive soot buildup can indicate that your furnace is not running at peak efficiency. She'd had the rust vacuumed off the water heater burner and had had the leak in the furnace fixed. A flue vent connector ((also called the "stack pipe" or "flue pipe") is the metal pipe that connects the oil fired heating appliance to a chimney in order to safely vent combustion gases outdoors. In comparison, the furnace exhaust on Donna's house registered 20 ppm. Questions & answers or comments about sooty heating equipment: causes, problems, cures. Looking in the downstairs utility closet, I found that the power-vented, direct-vent furnace had a small leak by the vent fan housing that registered 178 ppm on start-up. If your furnace is vented through a masonry chimney, look for white residue on the brick. Soot layers in boilers or furnaces that are too thick means that the equipment is running "hot" and could even be unsafe. The wrong mixture of air and gas is the cause of soot produced by a hot water heater. Large, lazy, yellow flames that produce soot. So we do not want to see soot accumulating in depth in the flue vent connector or chimney (above right) nor blowing around the boiler room, accumulating on top of the boiler, or blowing into and staining other areas of the building. I can peg the needle of my CO detector at 2,000 ppm in the tailpipe of any car. There’s soot buildup inside the heat exchanger If the furnace has a soot buildup inside of it, then chances are that the heat exchanger is damaged. We put [a] heat scavenger on pipe going to chimney side ways. The water heater spit out 162 ppm of CO on start-up before the fan came on. The real concern is how does the soot get into the plenum? Also can they be on their side? Not enough of a source, I felt, to produce that level of buildup throughout the house. In some cases, you'll find discoloration on the heat exchanger. If you suspect a problem with your heat exchanger, have your system inspected immediately. Causes of Buildup The most common causes of soot buildup in a gas fireplace are ceramic fire-logs that have been moved out of proper position and burner ports that are clogged. I shut the door between the garage and house, and I could feel cold air flowing into the house. Large amounts of soot can be caused by a dirty, clogged or malfunctioning burner, inadequate draft or a low air-to-fuel ratio. If left, you will probably have a puffback. Additional references suggest that these devices may be more reliable on gas-fired heating appliances. Opening this damper and looking inside meant we literally "hit pay dirt". Our photo at page top shows what was probably several years of accumulated soot, rust flakes, and debris in the flue vent connector of an oil-fired horizontal furnace in a wet moldy crawlspace. In the six months before they called me, they had started noticing black stains on the walls, ceilings, and carpets. Worse, if the vacuum cleaner is leaky you may end up blowing soot into the living area. Step 2 Clean or replace your furnace filters. SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice. Home Energy can be reached at: contact@homeenergy.org Also do you need [a barometric] damper with them? She said they had each been in service only two weeks. He met us at the house, along with the furnace installer and the local furnace representative. But this didn't explain where the soot--and the CO--was coming from. A little oil burner soot after service is normal: Because cleaning an oil fired heater disturbs soot and some of that leaks into the utility room, it's normal to see a very light coating of soot dust in the 24 hours or so after your heating system is cleaned and serviced. Booklet. And she was still getting some soot buildup on her furnace filters. The soot is coming from poor combustion which can be caused by a blocked intake vent. The main burner would come on for a short length of time and blow out, along with the pilot. This is where it can become a problem. First, check the appliance. Delayed ignition and noisy flames that lift off the burner. Looking carefully at the jamb of the garage door, I found soot stains on all three hinges. Carbon monoxide is not a major problem with oil heat because you'll probably be … [We] took [the] furnace apart soot was a good half inch thick on top the nozzle, [though it] was clean the [combustion] chamber where it fires. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. 4 reasons a soot smell is bad news: 1) Soot is the result of incomplete combustion, meaning that your furnace isn’t burning the gas properly or efficiently. I told Donna to have the water heater and furnace serviced and to give me a call if she had any more problems. On average, homes in his study drew 25% of their make-up air from the garage, and some drew as much as 85% from this source. To make a long story short, it was found that the heat exchanger was plugged with soot from overfiring. Reduce outdoor dirt entry by sealing the house (ie, caulking, weatherstripping, new windows). The service tech needs to set the proper draft in the breech or flue for best performance. We explain how much oil burner soot is normal and when soot production is a problem. All of the conditions listed above, will cause a poor flame. None of the other dozen or so cracked heat exchangers I've found (out of the probably 400 I've inspected so far on home inspections) contributed even one ppm of CO to the house air. Excessive soot also poses a fire hazard and increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Also what went wrong? Poor ventilation for the burners or a restricted vent can also cause sooting. But over that year, other major problems in the house threw me, and several others working on the case, off the track. ... end of a heating cycle, and then comes back on for a short time. But where from? Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987. Seehausen, Jobst W. "Heat pipe recuperator." Just how much soot is ok? We describe how to inspect, troubleshoot and repair heating and air conditioning systems to inform home owners, buyers, and home inspectors of common heating system defects. The hole in the heat exchanger was clearly a problem, as it may have disrupted the combustion enough to cause CO and soot production. Donna called back a month later. Use of unseasoned firewood. He can also hosts an on-line forum for home questions at www.mlive.com/aroundhouse/. That's why when you replace an old 70% natural draft with a 80% you have to resize the flu. U.S. Patent 4,050,628, issued September 27, 1977. Inefficient combustion causes soot to build up on the heat exchanger. Thick soot build-up inside of a flue, the chimney, or inside of the boiler or furnace heat exchanger or inside of a domestic water heater is a problem that causes higher fuel bills, equipment operating problems, and potential fire and safety problems. All the same, I have learned that falling in love can be a good thing, in the right time and place. These are some of the major causes and it can be one of them or a combination of more than one. For example: (e) Boilers and furnaces in which oil burners are installed shall be connected to flues having sufficient draft at all Home Energy magazine -- Please read our Copyright Notice. A proper service procedure for oil fired heating equipment includes removal of the flue vent connector and thorough cleaning of all debris from these components as well as a visual inspection of the condition of the chimney to which the flue vent connector joins to send combustion products outside. Fan came on upstairs and down hazard and increases the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning,. `` heat pipe recuperator. they often draw in air from the garage and house, along with pilot. On fire at this temperature powdery mess any more problems a problem with furnace... 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