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Carbon Monoxide OVER AND OVER and no solutions - PLEASE HELP US!!!!!!!!!!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by norwegn@mwt.net, Feb 9, 2009.

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  1. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    It was said: "3-2-10 is the chimney must penatrate the roof by 3ft and stick up high 2ft higher then anything with in 10 ft of it."

    So should I just ask if having two pipes out of that chimney of the same height meets the 3 - 2 - 10 rule with a gas fireplace AND wood stove getting vented out of there?

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  2. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    We have some very knowlegable people who sell and install stoves on this thread who seem to be vey quiet. Wonder why.
    Ed
  3. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Wow I just caught this thread.... I don't have the patience to read all of that. Where are you in WI? If you are near Madison and you need a separate local person to check things out I could probably stop by on a weekend or something if needed. PM me your city if you don't want to post it in public. BTW I'm not looking to make money, just help out a fellow Wisconsinite.
  4. stoveguy13

    stoveguy13 Minister of Fire

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    Just ask him to extend th woood stovedextend the gas firepalce itcan be done with a simple black pipe to test the theroy and see if it makes it stopas the stove starts to cool so does the chimney i think you said earlier that the furnace has out side air on it if it does that should not have and affect on the stove my guess is that when the stove is running low the house is starting to work as a better chimney then your chimney the chimney looks short to me and extending it may increase the draft some one should have taken a draft reading by now if they have let me know what it was and i will tell you if it is in spec.
    you may be able to doit your slef to test the theroy.
  5. RonB

    RonB Feeling the Heat

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    WI girl,
    Like I said in an earlier post, you need someone to come on site (come to your house and make a visual inspection and assessment) that has more knowledge/experience than the fire chief or the original installer. JTP has just made you an offer. I sure hope he is within driving distance to you and you can work something out. I would not ask the installer to make any corrections/mods to your system until it is assessed by someone else. There may be more than one cause contributing to the CO problem. Or maybe, a couple of errors in stove install that doesn't cause the CO that should be corrected anyway. Get your ducks in a row before you call the installer.
  6. elmoleaf

    elmoleaf Feeling the Heat

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    I don't know if it's been mentioned yet, but consider if those ground level vents and gas exhaust are on the windward or leeward side of the house. Observe which direction the prevailing wind blows your woodburner's smoke. If it's blowing down off the roof towards the vents, that and a negative pressure issue, could be your problem. Extending the woodburner's flue higher may help in that case.
    My understanding is that fresh air intakes should typically be on the side of the house facing the prevailing winds.

    I also just noticed you have a kitchen exhaust vent on the roof, and what appears to be a bathroom exhaust on the roof adjacent to your woodstove chimmney. You could also be getting a reverse flow coming down either one of those locations.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Gotta agree with RonB on this one . . . no offense to the Fire Chief or installer, but just because someone fights fires and responds to CO calls doesn't make him or her an expert on installations and it sounds like this one may be a tricky case . . . and as for installers . . . seems like it's hit-or-miss out there with really good installers and really bad installers and a bunch that fall somewhere in the middle.

    I'm pulling for you guys since I know that if you can get this problem licked then you will come to love wood heat . . . hopefully you can connect up with JTP or someone else locally that can offer some more advice.
  8. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    ELMOLEAF - We checked the levels in the bathroom and the levels were lower than in other parts of the main floor, so we sort of ruled out that the bathroom exhaust was pulling it in.
  9. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    Today was another CO event.......

    We have been runnning for a few days, then shutting down to no coals an starting again since the levels have typically happened on day 4-5.

    This am, we were down to just a little bit of coals, after running it for about 4 days, and my husband started the fire at 9:50am with small kindling, paper and wood. The damper was wide open. He got everything set, lit the paper, closed the door right away, and took readings before and after and it was zero.

    At 10:45, he went downstairs, levels were zero, put in another log once the fire had been really going (He left the damper open for that hour to really clean out the chimney), and readings remained zero. He closed the damper completely (he doesn't do the fire often and thought he was supposed to do that) and came up, I sent him back down when he told me what he did, and read it and it was zero (about 20-30 minutes later). It was then opened to 1/4 open which is where is usually is during normal running operation. At 11:40, he was going to leave for an appointment so he went down to put in one more big log. The detector was at 20 before opening up the door (which is where it usually starts when we start having issues).

    Winds are out of the N/NW today but snowflakes are falling at just a slight angle, not at a hard angle to indicate strong winds. There isn't swirling by the vents, either. The snow in that area is falling very calmly.

    There were two showers this morning, like every morning. The fan ran for 20 minutes at 7am in the bathroom. No laundry today, no dishes, no stove exhaust, no changes from life as it is every day here (except my hubby was home today for that appointment). On the other days, he did not do the fire; it was me, so I can't blame this all on him, either !!!! :) :) :) hee hee

    The HVAC man said that our air exchanger is 10 feet away from intakes and that meets code and the intake was installed in the NW most part of the home for our part of the country. (He didn't do this system, but he said the venting here is not a concern based on the measurements)

    The levels are back to zero, but on the fire chief's handheld, he would measure consistent readings at different points even when the numerical readout would say zero....that is baffling. I have not called him today.......just trying to record everything. I didn't open anything up to air out the house so if my upstairs detectors go off, I'll call him to come out and do readings.

    The HVAC guy is doing a search with his sister companies to find a long term metering CO detector for us to use.

    Our fireplace guy has not been in touch with us for a week and a half now, even after I left messages. No word on a camera or about a pipe to put up there...... nothing.

    I appreciate that someone offered to drive here to help but we are two hours away from him. I just would feel so bad that he would do that. It wouldn't be such a big deal, to just pay someone to come and try to get this all figured out, but we have really awful health insurance and nearly $8,000 in bills we are struggling to pay right now on top of everything else. When it rains, it pours.

    So we did the HVAC thing and the CO detector inside the gas fireplace and now we need to get a new pipe on one of those flues for the chimney. Are we in agreement that it is the woodstove pipe that should be higher?

    Thanks again!

    :) WI GIRL
  10. snowtime

    snowtime Minister of Fire

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    Just read about your troubles. There are lots of possibilities but I would extend the wood stove pipe 3' first. I do not remember if you have a cap but it would be good to have a cap on the gas chimney. Its easy to do and cheap. For a test you do not need to buy expensive pipe just get some regular single wall and see if it works. If it works then you can but some more class A.
  11. stoveguy13

    stoveguy13 Minister of Fire

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    yes try extending the woodstove pipe.
  12. PeteD

    PeteD New Member

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    Definitely try this. My fireplace manual calls for 18 inches of vertical separation (top to top) for flues in same chimney.

    Good luck,
    Pete
  13. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    Finally got in touch with fireplace guy. He thought maybe my detector was sensing radon and triggering a false test.......grasping at straws. The fire chief has been here over and over to confirm the gas detected and we got new detectors. Told him results of HVAC guy and talking to other experts here and he doesn't want to go up another 3 feet. He said he will go up 2 feet because the stove itself burns really well at the height and he said going up 3 feet could really affect the efficiency.

    As far as the last time we got a reading, I had taken the detector out of the gas fireplace a few days before after not getting readings for 4 days with all sorts of opportunities for the inversion to occur. I had moved it back to a spot where we had gotten high readings downstairs in the past. It had gotten very smokey down there again, so I was a bit worried that the detector with numbers wasn't downstairs.

    So tomorrow we get the woodstove pipe raised and we will go from there........thanks for all being out there to be so supportive as we try to get this figured out!!!! Hopefully we should have a feel for if it works within a week because that is about how long it seems to take before the alarm goes off with steady burning.

    :)
  14. stoveguy13

    stoveguy13 Minister of Fire

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    make sure it meets 3-2-10 rule
  15. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Ok... I read most of all of that.... noticed a few things.

    First of all there seems to be confusion about the wood and gas flues. Yes they are in the same "chimney" but they seem to be in two separate clay flues, this is fine and we do it all the time.

    There is a third flue it looks like and it seems to be capped off with a loose piece of metal. I did not see any answers to questions about this.

    People have been asking about 2/10/3 rule. The flue for the wood insert looks like it comes out right at the peak. It looks like its over 2ft above the peak. I don't think its a problem.

    I think I saw someplace two of the gas fireplaces were vented out the side of the house, so lets not worry about those.

    Interesting is the third which is vented next to the wood insert, have we ever talked about what model it is, when and how it was installed? The cap suggests its a direct vent, but these are often installed with only one liner going up for exhaust and a short liner for fresh air. If this is the case wood smoke could come through the fresh air intakes of the gas cap and get into that flue. Now... with this type of install there should be a block of some sort down at the smoke shelf, below the stubby fresh air liner. If the block is not in there it could allow smoke and CO to come back down. Just a theory.

    Could just be a poor installation or something else totally.
  16. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    Don't know what that is. I can't seem to figure it out by looking around. I can call the previous owner and see if he knows...
  17. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I wouldn't worry about those other flue pipes right now. The rule is the problem will always be the most simple. Occams Razor I think?. The vents on the side of the house aren't going to be a problem, and we already know it's not coming DOWN the gas flue(the pressure differential there would just be way too high for that to be the case in the first place). The problem is the liner. Liner separated/tore in some spot, crimped, the stove pipe is not seated very well in the liner, or some other flaw in the install. I'm further convinced of this by the fact that a torn/damaged liner or bad install was your gut feeling, which is 90% of the time correct.

    Air is drawing down smoke and CO through the chimney chase, going around the lower blockoff plate(if the jokers even installed one). You definitely have SOMETHING messing with your flue draw, as there is no reason you should have smoke or even a faint smell of smoke in there. A tear/separation in the liner is quite an obvious culprit for both smoke seepage and poor draft. It's 100% the fault of the installer, and you need to get someone else out there, as well as get your money back. This is completely ridiculous, and you may even want to get someone from a the city or the BBB to do an investigation on the installer if they don't give you a full refund on the labor AND fix it labor-free. They should have taken care of it the DAY you noticed the CO readings. I don't blame your husband at all for wanting to just rip the thing out at this point.


    We know it's not drawing down the gas flue, as you don't get much CO readings upstairs and NO co readings inside the gas FP. Your whole house would smell like smoke if this were the case.


    This is further cemented by the fact that you say it's smokey. If there's wood smoke in the house, then it's obvious that the CO is not coming from the water heater or any other appliance not burning wood. When you say it's smokey down there, where is the smoke coming from? It can't escape from a stove with the door closed, so the only culprit could be the liner. Even if you had a major crack in the stove or the door WIDE open, the smoke and CO would be going up and out if there wasn't a problem with the liner installation.

    The other possibility is an obstruction in the liner, but this still doesn't give you a surce of smoke infiltration without the liner being damaged, and this would just make it near impossible to run the stove without it smoldering and dying off.

    My only question is, where is the smoke coming from when you say It's smokey down there?
  18. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    He ran a brush down through there and said it was clear, and this last time he said that the day he ran the brush, there was some buildup on the top of the vent things on that pipe. Even clean, we had readings within days, so with a clean pipe and vents, we eliminated that possibility. Often the smokey smell is most intense in the basement, and as I sit on the main floor working, I'll smell it sort of in waves, like become more aware of it at different points. Since I'm home all the time, I'm not as aware as when clients come to the house and say something about the smoke, or I'll see a haze in the house some mornings. The vent by my computer kicks up that smokey smell when that kicks in; it is attached to the normal gas furnace we have and is just reciruculating air, but then I really notice it.
  19. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    You can't tell at all where the smoke is coming in?

    I still say it's a damaged liner. You really shouldn't be burning the thing in the state it's in, and that installer needs to give you your money back so you can go get the thing installed by someone competent.
  20. stoveguy13

    stoveguy13 Minister of Fire

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    it sounds like if you are getting smoke back in the house it is a chimney problem for sure have him extend this visable smoke is a sing that that house is acting as a better chimney then the chimney is durning diffrent points of the day
  21. Peter B.

    Peter B. Feeling the Heat

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    There have been so many posts on this thread now that it's hard to keep details straight, but for the bulk of the thread, CO has been the central issue... and the actual smell of smoke has been downplayed. Now the smoke is coming back to the fore.

    Various things can cause a stove to backpuff intermittently... including (but not limited to) poor draft, an unusual wind condition, and damping a stove too far with a hot fire in progress.

    If the stove is unattended much of the time, you may not have actually seen it backpuff, but your comment that the smokey smell 'comes in waves' supports the intermittent backpuffing notion.

    Does anyone actually sit with the stove for any period of time while it's burning?

    Do you use a flue damper? If so, how much do you close it in normal operation?

    Peter B.

    -----
  22. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    Yes Peter that was my thoughts expressed on an early post. If it back puffs from closing it down too much it is also the time when the most CO will be produced. Smoldering=CO, free burning=less but still some CO. Ours does that, puffs, at night when I close it to fast and go to bed. Be safe. Ed
  23. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    So if I'm closing it to 1/4 open at night, let's say if there are no install problems, should I be getting these puffs of smoke coming in the house?

    This post has gotten so long and crazy that if you all are frustrated and not wanting to help anymore, I totally understand. I'm going to wait now and see if that extended pipe they put up there is going to help.

    :)
  24. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    It's not poor burning practice, it's a poorly installed liner. It doesnt matter if you threw a match in there and let the whole load have no flame and burn off like incense, smoking/smoldering the whole time. If your liner were installed correctly, the smoke would go up the chimney(possibly back down into your/the neighbor's yard, but still not into your house)
  25. norwegn@mwt.net

    norwegn@mwt.net New Member

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    View of chimney repairs made today.......

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