Backdraft!!Please help!

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    • #278184
      Avatar photokbrawner

        We have a gas boiler and water heater that are 3 years old. We live in a two family row home. A new chimney was installed when we converted to gas 3 years ago. We have had nothing but problems ever since. The chimney is a metal chimney that runs on the exterior of our home. It goes up from the basement to the roof of our 3 story home. The first chimney contractors tried to screw us by inserting a chimney liner that was only about 3 feet long. They charged us 2600.00 for that disaster. Supposedly they fixed it when they installed the exterior chimney. We still had backdraft problems. Another chimney company came and put a whirley bird type thing on the chimney cap last year. It worked for the remainder of the winter season. Now this year the water heater keeps going out. Then the boiler goes out. We now have a 5 month old daughter and I’m scared to death! Our carbon monoxide detector showed readings a day last week so we quickly removed her. We turned off the boiler and the water heater. The chimney company we used last year is out of business because they were caught scamming senior citizens. We called emergency chimeny repair that night at 11 p.m. They came the next day at noon. By that time when we relit the pilot light the chimney drafted perfectly. This company charged us $120.00 to do nothing but tell us our plumber should put on a new cap and change a “y” connector to a “t”, and drill holes to get more fresh air. We drilled the holes, put on a new cap and we still have problems. Our plumber is a good guy, but he is saying he is not a chimney expert. He thinks the problem exists because the chimney is cold and then causes the backdraft. Once it warms up it seems to work fine. It is a 7 inch chimney. He is thinking maybe the chimney is too big for the boiler. We really need help. I’m not even sure about what I’m talking about, but I’m really scared. The carbon monoxide detector went off this morning at 5:00 a.m. We now turned off the heat again. It’s warm here now, but we don’t know what we need to resolve this issue. How can we find a reputable chimney company? There don’t seem to be any in our area. We live in Northern New Jersey. Please help us. I’m ready to move out. Also, will these occasional low levels affect my baby? Does this posioning work cummulatively? Will she be affected before the detector alarms us?Thanks!

      • #297960
        Avatar photoDP

          All open vented boilers (like yours) require a vent (that lets in air for purpose of combustion as well as surplus air that dilutes the exhaust fumes from the boiler) these together rise up the chimney to to be dispersed into the atmosphere. The size of the chimney will have a direct correlation to the boiler energy INPUT. The flue also needs to be warm for it to be effective. Carbon monoxide is result of imcomplete combustion due to ineffective evacuation of products of combustion (inadequate vent or chimney size/ operaion) or incorrect gas mix at the burner- regular service recommended. In Great Britain, exposed flues have to be double skinned. Once the chimney has been fabricated, the boiler is tested by shutting all doors and windows in boilerhouse/ room (reliant on vent alone) and tested with a smoke match. All smoke should be sucked into the flue indicating no spillage (what sets off you alarm) taking place. My Local code require that this test be carried out after 5 minutes. If it fails, then after another five minutes have elapsed. A failure here warrants boiler disconnection as it is deemed to be Imediately dangerous. Of course the regulation in your area may be different. I would strongly suggest that you get a competent heating engineer not just anybody who claims to be one. The topic of flues and ventillation is one of the easiest but surprisingly vast number of installations are incorrect- like yours appears to be. I hope you get the problem resolved soon.

        • #297961
          Avatar photoSylvanLMP

            The problem is a lot of folks dabbling in the field have no clue to sizing the FREE fixed air for proper combustion of gas fired appliances.

            For example typically you need ONE SQUARE INCH per 1,000 BTU PER HOUR INPUT of all the gas utilization equipment.

            About a down draft this is a real concern and a SWISS CAP should have been installed to prevent any possibility of a down draft (Spillage)

            Please feel free to E mail me and I will put you in contact with a licensed professional.

            GOOD LUCK.

            Never trust a government that does not trust its citizens

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