PDA

View Full Version : Miserable week


ladypiper47
02-10-2006, 09:02 PM
Wow, what a miserable week this has been, although I am well aware that in the 'grand scheme' of things it was no big deal.

It started with a call to our local natural gas company because we weren't getting as much hot water as I thought we should be getting. The tech came and inspected the tank. Sure enough a little piece had broken with time. He replaced it - no problem. THEN, he turned his attention to the montrosity of a furnace sitting next to the water heater. (Our house is about 85 yrs old and had this octopus of a gas furnace that had once been a coal burning furnace). He informed me that the law regarding this type of furnace had recently changed and he was required to test it for carbon monoxide leaked. IT Failed. Now I realize that I should be greatful that he discovered this, I realize that I should have had a CO monitor, I realize all these things BUT..... he condemned the furnace and wouldn't turn it back on. IT IS WINTER HERE. Because of my work schedule I had to arrange the furnace installation for later in the week. We were 5 days without a furnace. VERY ugly. It didn't end there though. The gas company lent me some space heaters to heat the house. HOWEVER, when I plugged them in the power blew in the house. So no space heaters Apparently, I am the only home owner on in the civilized world with 60amp service. After sourcing an electrician to come and get the lights back on, I have arranged an upgrade for next week. According to the electrician, there are lots of permits and such to get in order to upgrade my service. I have to be very careful about plugging thing in for the time being.
I had no idea how exhausting it would be to have no heat for 5 days, a disabled mother on site and tiptoeing around the electricity consumption.
It took the furnace guys 10 hours to get the furnace working properly. I found my self unable to do anything while they worked.

Son of Cam
02-11-2006, 06:44 AM
Ladypiper47, if you a want to explore your experience with the service provider further, please e-mail privately. These furnaces are not outlawed in Ontario, having said that without knowing the condition or the source of the CO, I'm not sure if the service provider could have repaired it, did he offer?

Alaytheia
02-11-2006, 07:12 AM
LadyPiper, how's your plumbing? :eek: What an awful week to have everything go wrong and have to be replaced all at the same time. Your poor wallet!

Mom2Grace
02-11-2006, 10:30 AM
That is definately a miserable week.
I hope you get it all figured out and it costs less than you think.
Our water heater is on the fritz...and thankfully we dont have a furnace. :S
Check into what Son of Cam was mentioning...

Margaret
02-11-2006, 11:32 AM
Originally posted by ladypiper47:
Apparently, I am the only home owner on in the civilized world with 60amp service. Our old farmhouse house was built in 1894 (and it's still on a farm) ~ the rats nest of electrical wiring, done over the years by both "farmer" and "professional", gave us the ability to make an electrician cry when they came to do something on the house :)

Margaret

ladypiper47
02-11-2006, 04:54 PM
I am wallowing in the heat at the moment. We have gone overboard and LOVE it. Tomorrow we MAY turn it down but today we wallow. My hibicus has uncurled it's limbs and is thriving again. One of the poinsettia has a rocky road ahead if it is to recover. The other plants are okay at the moment.
To Son of Cam: He did not offer to fix the furnace but it was leaking CO at the exhaust pipes and around some of the joints. Because of the probable age of the unit it would have officially been unrepairable eventually. What he said was that it should not be recemented and he did not want to strip the old stuff off.

To Margaret: Actually, the wiring made each of the electricians (there were 3 different ones) a) laugh b) moan c) shake their heads.... depending on whether they were planning to have a hand in repairing my problems.


To Alaytheia: If anything goes wrong with the plumbing I plan to 'duct tape' it into submission.

MacDhughaill
02-11-2006, 08:00 PM
Look at it this way it was an very good week, because two times you potentially saved the lives of your whole family. Actually, an excellent week indeed! :banana:

ladypiper47
02-11-2006, 11:36 PM
Absolutely true.

Son of Cam
02-12-2006, 06:54 AM
Now that you are warm and cozy, I assume that you will be going out to get the two CO detectors that you need! One in the basement and one outside of your bedrooms! Good advice for everyone!

VeggiePiper
02-12-2006, 05:12 PM
Originally posted by Son of Cam:
Now that you are warm and cozy, I assume that you will be going out to get the two CO detectors that you need! One in the basement and one outside of your bedrooms! Good advice for everyone! Might be a good idea to get 3 CO detectors, one for each level of the home. I believe that CO detectors are required on each level which has fuel burning appliances, so there should be a detector in the kitchen area if you have a gas stove, or in the living room with gas fireplaces.
And remember, as of March 1st, in Ontario all homes are required to have a (working) smoke detector for every level of the home!!

One more thing..smoke detectors generally only have a working life of 10 years, so if yours are in that age range, REPLACE them!!


Cheers
Pat

ladypiper47
02-12-2006, 05:27 PM
Does a smoke detector age with no batteries in it? :eek:

VeggiePiper
02-12-2006, 06:42 PM
Originally posted by ladypiper47:
Does a smoke detector age with no batteries in it? :eek: BWAHAHAHA!!! Actually, smoke detectors have a very very small amount of radioactive material which is used in the activation of the alarms (do not ask me exactly how!!). It is such a small amount that it poses no problems to the health of the residents, however the half life of this material is about 10 years.

Change the batteries twice a year too!! And if you constantly have a smoke detector that activates whenever you cook, either:
A) move the detector a little farther away from the kitchen
B) buy a detector which has a 'pause' button, which stops the alarm for about 7 minutes while the smoke clears
or
C) Learn to cook!! :wink: :wink: :wink:

OK, rant off!

Pat

Smokeater
02-12-2006, 08:28 PM
Ladypiper47,
Greeting, It sounds like you have had a very fortunate, yet expensive week. I'm glad to hear that it was discovered by a service technician, rather than someone like myself, a firefighter. I've worked in the HVAC service and installation field as well and after having to replace my own furnace and electical service can really feel the pain you are going through. I would like to add a piece of advice to the already wonderful advice you have received. First, like real estate, location, location, location. How and where you place the alarms can make a differance in how well, and how soon the alarm will activate when called upon. If you really aren't sure the best place to put them, contact your local fire depatment and ask there advice. Most of us are usually very willing to assist, especially since it saves lives and decreases the amount of damage when a fire is detected quickly. Second, just pressing the test button on a smoke detector doesn't always mean the detector is functioning properly. It means the detector alarm is working if it sounds.
Best of luck
Mark

ladypiper47
02-12-2006, 09:39 PM
Smokeater: You are absolutely right about my week and I have known that from the beginning. Just to be sure everyone is aware - it was a miserable week from a 'discomfort/inconvenience' and 'expense' point of view. YES I am very grateful to the technician for finding the problems with the furnace, and indirectly with the electricity. There is no question that this story could have had a horrible ending. (That's why I plan to put the batteries back in the smoke detectors. How much luck can one person reasonably expect??? )


I forgot to mention it earlier in my 'litany of woes'... all these problems made me miss band practice this week. Band night was one of the nights that I 'blew' the house fuse with the space heater. While the rest of them were practicing hard at band practice, I was trying to find an electrician in the yellow pages to come and give us light. The PM was most sympathetic when I called to say I wasn't coming to practice.

Mom2Grace
02-13-2006, 10:45 AM
ONE THING TO KEEP IN MIND...on the topic of smoke detectors...
DONT buy a smoke detector with CO sensor. They are useless. You put the smoke detector on the ceiling (smoke rises), then the CO sensor won't help because CO runs along the floor. If you put it on the floor, then it won't be able to detect smoke. This was something I never knew, until I had a home inspection done by a fire marshall (required to be a foster parent). He said he can't understand why the dual units are even allowed on the market.

Tommy P.
02-13-2006, 12:09 PM
I'm sorry ma'am, I read your post and thought immediately that you'd been given misleading information, carbon monoxide is ligher than air, but just barely, it will mix with room air and be for the most part, equally distributed throughout the space.
But just to be sure I was correct before posting this, I spent the last 30 minutes double checking. I spoke to two of our Haz-Mat techs, looked in three F.D manuals and spent some time on the internet, the CO detectors should be mounted at least 5 ft above the floor, outside bedrooms and on each level of a multi-story residence.

Air has a molecular density of 28.8 and CO has one fo 28.01 That's extremely close.

Disclaimer: Don't take my word for it, do a Google on Carbon Monoxide, and be sure to mount the detectors according the manufacturers instructions.

ladypiper47
02-13-2006, 02:05 PM
In my contrition about taking the batteries out of my smoke detectors, I contacted a retired firefighter friend. He replied that he has 5 smoke detectors in his house. (An ordinary size house I believe). At this rate, I will have to take some of the pictures down to have room for all the monitors that I am going to have to have. I am off to Home Depot tomorrow to stock up.

Frank W
02-13-2006, 02:10 PM
Originally posted by Rat Bast_rd:
I'm sorry ma'am, I read your post and thought immediately that you'd been given misleading information, carbon monoxide is ligher than air, but just barely, it will mix with room air and be for the most part, equally distributed throughout the space.
But just to be sure I was correct before posting this, I spent the last 30 minutes double checking. I spoke to two of our Haz-Mat techs, looked in three F.D manuals and spent some time on the internet, the CO detectors should be mounted at least 5 ft above the floor, outside bedrooms and on each level of a multi-story residence.

Air has a molecular density of 28.8 and CO has one fo 28.01 That's extremely close.

Disclaimer: Don't take my word for it, do a Google on Carbon Monoxide, and be sure to mount the detectors according the manufacturers instructions. Right on Rat! I read the post about the Ontario FM stating CO is heavier then air so it will hug the ground and had to scratch my head. We've always reccommended installing a CO detector about 6' but personally I wouldn't install one. I can't tell you how many false alarms I've been called out on because of them. Not one was positive. My suggestion is to have all gas applicances inspected prior to winter usage and you should be fine.

I'm basing my advice on the fact I worked for 4 years as a gas service repairman for a local utility company prior to becoming a firefighter. Kind of been there done that. I'm guessing the furnace in question is a gravity feed. These are excellant furnaces but as they get older inspections are a must. The problem with the CO is usually the result of two things. The first is the improper air to gas mixture for the burner causing incomplete combustion. The second is usually the result of a cracked or burnt out fire box allowing the products of incomplete combustion "CO" gas, to make it into the ducts and then the house. You and your family are lucky. It may not have killed you but it could have created other health issues.

Look on the bright side, you have a fabulous week.

Son of Cam
02-13-2006, 08:54 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Frank W:

My suggestion is to have all gas applicances inspected prior to winter usage and you should be fine.

Best advice so far!

I've been an Engineering Manager with our local gas distributor for over 25 years, I have worked on various appliance committees (Canada and US)I have also participated in CO awaremness campaigns in cooperation with local fire depts and gov't agencies. The advice to have your appliances regularly checked should be taken seriously by everyone.

Cheers

kokigami
02-13-2006, 10:11 PM
Originally posted by Frank W:
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Originally posted by Rat Bast_rd:
<span style="font-weight: bold"> I'm sorry ma'am, I read your post and thought immediately that you'd been given misleading information, carbon monoxide is ligher than air, but just barely, it will mix with room air and be for the most part, equally distributed throughout the space.
But just to be sure I was correct before posting this, I spent the last 30 minutes double checking. I spoke to two of our Haz-Mat techs, looked in three F.D manuals and spent some time on the internet, the CO detectors should be mounted at least 5 ft above the floor, outside bedrooms and on each level of a multi-story residence.

Air has a molecular density of 28.8 and CO has one fo 28.01 That's extremely close.

Disclaimer: Don't take my word for it, do a Google on Carbon Monoxide, and be sure to mount the detectors according the manufacturers instructions. Right on Rat! I read the post about the Ontario FM stating CO is heavier then air so it will hug the ground and had to scratch my head. We've always reccommended installing a CO detector about 6' but personally I wouldn't install one. I can't tell you how many false alarms I've been called out on because of them. Not one was positive. My suggestion is to have all gas applicances inspected prior to winter usage and you should be fine.

I'm basing my advice on the fact I worked for 4 years as a gas service repairman for a local utility company prior to becoming a firefighter. Kind of been there done that. I'm guessing the furnace in question is a gravity feed. These are excellant furnaces but as they get older inspections are a must. The problem with the CO is usually the result of two things. The first is the improper air to gas mixture for the burner causing incomplete combustion. The second is usually the result of a cracked or burnt out fire box allowing the products of incomplete combustion "CO" gas, to make it into the ducts and then the house. You and your family are lucky. It may not have killed you but it could have created other health issues.

Look on the bright side, you have a fabulous week. </span></div></div>I know that the early CO detectors were notorious for false positives, and I agree that we still get a fair number, but I still recommend a CO detector when people ask me. Because I am with a municiple FD we aren't allowed to endorse a product, but I always advise people look for a CO detector with a digital readout and a peak measurement button.

cajunscot
02-14-2006, 08:20 AM
Gas appliances should be checked once a year As furnaces are used seasonably,it is easy to forget to have them checked.As with motor vehicles,preventive maintenance makes sense when applied to gas burning equipment.

:thumb:
Stuart.

redjack
02-14-2006, 11:39 AM
I agree about the CO detector with the digital readout. They are more expensive and they usually have a better sensor as well as giving real time information on an actual alarm. I also would caution about putting one in a basement, or at least too close to a gas fired appliance. Gas water heaters do a thing called a backdraft (not like our fire backdrafts) when the air has a high humidity content. When it first fires up with a cold vent you will get some minor amounts of CO in the area. Not enough to cause harm to people but enough sometimes to cause an alarm to sound.

And yes smoke detectors have a life span. I would suggest, as we do here, to replace all smoke detectors every 5-7 years. Just sitting on the wall the detector will accumulate dust, grease, fly poop and whatever else is in your atmosphere. It can cause false alarms or worse yet, no alarm at all.

ladypiper47
02-14-2006, 07:58 PM
To those of you who suggested having appliances checked each season: I DID have the furnace inspected in the fall before turning it on. The problem was they were not required to monitor the CO levels at the time and I did not know that was a good idea. I thought I had done all the right things by having the gas company come and clean and inspect the furnace. Little did I know.

Anyway, I now have 3 new smoke detectors (dual sensor) and 2 new CO monitors.

scarhandpiper
02-14-2006, 09:00 PM
We had one of those octopus furnaces when I was a kid, it took up the whole of our full basement. For 2 years we kids were sick every two weeks because of the CO leakage (there were 5 of us). Finally my dad had the furnace replaced with a teenly little box smaller than a fridge and suddenly we weren't sick any more. My mom nearly died when she found out what was making us sick all the time. It was a good move, Ladypiper. You definitely saved some lives that week!

Klondike Waldo
02-15-2006, 01:38 PM
I had a problem with the idea that CO is heavier than air. That would suggest that the idea of staying close to the floor in a fire situation was to choose a quicker, less painful end? :shrug:

MacBubba
02-15-2006, 01:49 PM
If it were true, it might be, but it isn't, so it isn't. Clear now?

Tommy P.
02-15-2006, 08:09 PM
I can tell you dozens of stories about my experience with carbon monoxide., but I won't do it here due to liabilities.

If you're serious and have a question, email me as a friend,.......I'll give you my number and you can call me if you're truley worried about it.