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Follow up inspection for the woman that filled her cellar with smoke

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Feb 23, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    The home was built in 1994 and current owner moved it a few months back. Before she used her fireplace she had it cleaned and inspected there were no signs of prior use. The chimney sweep sold her a cap to keep animals out, but this cap encompassed both flues. She had a few small fires but Super Bowl night get a real good going. Another key element is the weather. Cloudy rainy and cold mid 30’s finally clears off after a cold front goes threw. No sun all day Low 30’s game time so the burner is cycling add the fire place dragging out heated air more cycling. The colonial home had most of the basement finished off, leaving a 10/20 area, that housed the 75000 But gas hot water heater, 145,000 gas FHW boiler and a Gas clothes dryer.
    The boiler is operating, the hot water heater, operating to supply the hot water to the clothes washer, and the gas dryer is working. The available combustion air area would not fully support any one appliance never mind all 3 working at once. The weather is warm enough that the fireplace draft was not as strong as if it were colder. And the cap acted as a channel to the adjacent flue The 3 appliances literally drew the smoke into the cellar probably exiting out the draft hoods of the hot water heater and boiler possibly the ash cleanout located there. Making matters worse the smoke alarm did not go off and were found defective.
    1. inadequate combustion air
    2. chimney cap
    3. weather conditions all factors. plus the close proximity of appliance competing for the inadequate combustion air. Pretty easy to figure out you just as your responses indicated. Recommended fixes louver doors to the playroom to include that air volume and add a direct outside air feed to the boiler firing head. Remove the existing chimney cap and get in touch with the Extender a flue guy. I left copies printed out from your ebay auctions and your web address

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Sand Lake, NY
    Have you heard of an outside air inlet for a dryer? I wonder how that would work to dry the clothes? Our dryer is electric, but exhausts plenty of air.

    Also, on the outside air inlet for the burner: I have read that one needs a damper on the inlet pipe, that will open just in case the intake gets plugged.

    On a side note, I have a damper like the above on the heater's exhaust pipe: it seems to mix room air with the exhaust. It also seems to open (as I recall) a little bit periodically even when the unit is off (wind blowing?)! What exactly is the purpose of these things (on an exhaust pipe) and any clues on how they are adjusted? I expect it has something to do with maintaining draft.
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    your dryer uses about 160 cfm of air Code requires for provisions to make up that vollume which usually is accomplished tqo ways installing a louver door to that confined space or installing threw the wall high loe vents. Both these solutions allow acces comunicating with the larger vollume to the rest of the interior spaces. Be it Electric of gas, what happens is modern dryers have moister probes that sense when the load is dry. Today helter skelter world, the load is loaded and not taken out for hours. Many do. not know how long their dryer run 30 minutes or 90 or more There is a real danger here with the presence of very combustiable lint,
    Even electric motors overused build up heat so much so, with lint presssent they can ignite. The motor overheats because it cycles longer to make up for the lack of replacement air. Your dryer vent should be hard piped metal. The metal provides a smoother surface that does not collect lint as a corrugate flexible ones do. As your vent collects lint it effectively reduces the diameter and restricts the flow of exhaust. making your dryer cycle longer. as part of bi yearly mantaintance they should be cleaned out. It reduces the risk of fire and saves energy wasted trying to exhaust a partically plugged exhaust. What is the real danger well 15,000 related dryer fires occure in USA a year and not all are from gas dryers.

    Another real concern is lint gumming up your vent's back flapper, preventing from fully opening. Again the same concerns of exhaust reductions. What do you expect from a $2.50 hood? They work ok for a few months then never opperate properly again. The $20 hood works much better and last longer and actually can be cleaned.

    Sounds like you have a similar setup for your fresh air make up feed. The flapper is suposed to prevent backdrafts when makeup air is not being called for. If they installed a common dryer exhaust vent hood it is useless. That vent opens only one way to exhaust out going air Incomming air closes it. One could reverse the damper but with my experience they are so shinzy the fall apart or cannot be reversed. The correct way is to install the air feed right into the d combustion compartment or the the burner head some call it air in a can. No damper is needed as it ends in a concealed connection. Again the damper or back flap is only usefull if it functions properly these cheap dryer vent hoods do not last long and it does not take to much dirt sand to prevent them from functioning properly
  4. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    While I don't have the outside air for the heater installed yet, I am thinking about it.
    The components I was talking about are on page 35 and 36 of this pdf (beware dial-ups) http://www.burnham.com/pdfs/CurrentPDFfiles/V8_I&O.pdf .
    The component on the flue is apparently called a draft regulator and controls dilution air and the thing on the intake air piping acts as a relief valve in case the outside inlet is blocked.
    I was concerned about depressurization in my house in general. I have no problems now, but I will be adding an insert and possibly a sub-slab depressurization fan (radon) and range hood exhaust to the oil burner and electric dryer and bathroom vents. I think things have the potential to add up.
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    range hood exhaust to the oil burner and electric dryer and bathroom vents.
    please explain what is mean by range hod to exhaust a burner. This is new to me
  6. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    I think velvetfoot is talking about adding yet another exhaust fan (range hood.) This will make four total to the number of exhausts - range hood (new), burner (existing), dryer (existing), and bathroom fan (existing). Concern is that will these be too many and possibly cause negative pressure in the house.
  7. ERPARKER

    ERPARKER New Member

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    I was starting a fire the other evening when smoke started coming out of the air-intake of my insert! After a few seconds of panic I realized my wife had turned on the huge blower fan we had installed for her high-end range. I yelled (and I mean I YELLED) across the house to tell her to turn it off, which fortunately she did without questioning. The smoke stopped coming out and the fire started to take off and we got a quick education on house ventilation. I apologized immediately to her and didn't get in trouble for yelling. Gotta be careful about that stuff, though you ought to hear her yell when she sees a bug. :)
  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That's a fascinating story elk. I learned a lot just reading your description. Gives one pause.

    Speaking of yelling, one time I was stripping the old finish off the baseboards in our old house with alcohol and managed to get some of the solvent into an outlet, where it promptly arched and started the alcohol on fire. When I jumped backwards to get out of the way, I knocked the jar of alcohol over, so suddenly I've got a small river of flame spreading across the hardwood floor. I started yelling at my son to go get the goddamn fire extinguisher, which he did. Later, when the fire was extinguished (no harm done), my wife wanted to know what I thought I was accomplishing by yelling so loud. Hey, it made me feel like I was doing something useful instead of standing there helplessly watching the house burn down.
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