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Fumes and Leaks?

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by gasgal, Feb 17, 2009.

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  1. gasgal

    gasgal New Member

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    Hi

    This looks like a place where I might get some help. I sure hope so.

    We haave a HearthStone Sante Fe Gas stove. We converted to gas from electric to get better energy efficiency and have heat when the power goes out (OFTEN!!). It's been great, that way. But....we had the direct vebt fairly close to 2 windows and ubder the eaves. Fumes were getting in the soffits and windows, so we now have a long chimney pipe up through the roof. Better? Not quite. When we open the front door, the smell of fumes is still very evident. That means they are "dropping down" over the house, I think, and probably coming in the upstairs windows. The extension outside on the roof is about 2 feet long and does not go higher than the top of the roof.

    The stove itself sometimes seems to give off a bit of an odor. The glass is all fogged and there is some white powdery-looking stuff around the edge of the door. Leaky gasket?

    I am very sensitive to chemicals and wirry that this system just isn't going to work- I seem to get sicker every winter, but we had hoped moving the flue would help. I don't know any alternative to this system that would be electricity-free except solar, which needs...um...sun. Big deficit of that commodity here in the winter!

    BTW, we also have a smaller Jotul upstairs in a studio. Although the vent is between 2 windows, I don't think we've ever had a problem with that one. It's at the back of the house-not under the eaves.

    Thanks so much for any en-lighten-ment ;) you can provide.

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  2. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like the stove is probably leaking exhaust directly into the house, not coming back from the vent. Have you had a local pro inspect the stove? They should do a benchmark when its off with a CO gas analyzer and then again with it running just after startup and I would check it again after its been running for 30 minutes or so.

    I would definitely avoid using the stove at all costs until you get this resolved.

    Also you should get a high quality CO detector for the room the fireplace is in and also for your bedroom. Probably not a bad idea to have another one in the room with the Jotul stove.
  3. gasgal

    gasgal New Member

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    Thanks for those thoughts. I will get it checked-I appreciate the "benchmark" instructions. It's hard to find a good technician around here. We don't smell the fumes/exhaust until we go outside, and then not always. Probably has to do with the wind direction, etc. I don't think it's coming back directly from the vent, but it blows down over the house too much for my comfort. I wonder if raising the chimney another foot would help. We DO have a very sensitive CO2 detector just outside the bedroom. It has never gone off or even registered any levels. Just tested it- works fine. Yes, should get another detector for the studio with Jotul.

    Thanks again.

  4. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    I agree with the unit possibly venting into the house...
    Have you (or anyone) checked EVERY connection in the DV?
    I've seen the venting come apart within the wall thimble, because it wasn't connected securely...
    This led to numerous problems...sooting on the glass, inconsistent burning, sudden shut downs...
    Also, I agree that the CO detector is a MUST!
  5. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    So you smell it outside mostly? I thought you were smelling it a lot in the house? Does it seem the Hearthstone has a stinkier exhaust that the Jotul coming out of the vent outside?

    Does the unit seem to be burning correctly? Maybe one of the adjustments is wrong and its causing an incomplete burn which could cause more odor in the exhaust. Does the glass get sooty or white on the Hearthstone? Are the flames deep orange on the top? Those things can be signs of a combustion problem.

    I just read your OP again and you did say the glass is foggy. Sounds like the glass seal is not very good or room air is getting into the unit elsewhere (where exhaust could be getting out also).
  6. gasgal

    gasgal New Member

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    Thanks again for those observations. They confirm my suspicions. Now to convince my technician ...or find another one. :-S

    Do you know of any good alternative (besides wood heat) to this problem? We don't have a basement...or a lot of money to invest in anything too involved....
  7. gasgal

    gasgal New Member

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    You wrote:

    gas aint burning totally or u wouldnt smell it indoors or outdoors. whats it smell like?
    i guessing u have lack of air for gas to adequately combust & leaks in stove seals are cleaning soot that should deposit if such were the case


    Smell like? Well- not like raw gas, for one. Smells like something that has been burned- a chemical smell- hard to describe. You mean to say that gas combustion is odorless if complete? That really surprises me, especially since these heaters are supposed to be about 80% efficient. That would mean some residue in the exhaust wouldn't it?

    I don't know a lot about this stuff- just speculating here. I must say, I don't smell much from the Jotul exhaust but it does have a slight odor. Not nearly as strong as the Hearthstone, which, by the way, has a 2 story chimney with 2 angles. Yup, they told us at Hearthstone that it would work. They didn't say how WELL it would work though!!

    Thanks for your comment.
  8. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Do you have a handyman nearby?
    I think I'd try changing out the 2 stoves...
    They both use Simpson DuraVent pipe.
    If you make the switch & the Hearthstone STILL acts funny, it's
    the stove...
    If the Jotul doesn't work right, it's the venting...
  9. gasgal

    gasgal New Member

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    Hmmm

    The Jotul is much smaller- the Hearthstone would "cook" the room the Jotul is in. I don't know anyone who wants to carry the Hearthstone upstairs at the moment....good idea though!!

    I think I'll call my technician and see what can be done in the way on clean-up and seals, etc. And....the Hearthstone originally had a short (3 foot) vent pipe and it smelled the same then, which is why we were hoping that a longer pipe going up through the roof would get the fumes away from the house.

    I wonder if the draft could be improved on the long pipe?

    Thanks for your thoughts- everyone is being so helpful- much appreciated!! :)

  10. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    Hmmm.
    PM me...
    Depending on where you're located in Vt, maybe I could swing by to take a look.
    I live in Averill Park, NY about 40 miles from Bennington..
  11. nevadadave

    nevadadave New Member

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    Loc:
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    Hi, I'm a little late in chiming into the discussion about the mystery chemical odor coming out of a Hearthstone gas stove. Actually, I found this conversation while looking for anything on the web relating to "stinky Hearthstone." We had a persistent chemical odor that filled the room when we started the stove, each time we did it, over more than six years. The dealer came and cleaned and serviced it, vacuumed it out thoroughly, and wiped it down with denatured alcohol (this upon the recommendation of Hearthstone), two years eventually the dealer quit Hearthstone because of poor service, eventually we stopped using the stove when the new dealer (in another town) said he wanted nothing to do with the repair unless he could bring it to his shop and dismantle it completely, and even then there was no guarantee he would get to the bottom of the problem. This after I spoke to Hearthstone who referred me back to the new dealer.

    Now what I think is the source of the stink, and what we did about it: We dismantled the entire stove, disconnected the dv pipe to the ceiling,took out the logs, the back, the two heat exchangers, the electronic parts. We fashioned a new back for the stove made out of an inexpensive 2x2" sheet metal cut to fit, spraypainted it with leftover heat resistant stove paint (the stove and pipes had been navy), and we bought a Duraflame electric log heat insert of 1500 watts for inside the Hearthstone. Now with the click of a tiny remote, the electric fire springs to light, the aluminum strips cause "flame flicker" and the little blower gives off enough supplemental heat to warm up our 460 sq.ft. movie room. No more stink out of a $3,500 (incl. installation) useless behemoth. Now to the solution to the stink. Hearthstone had indicated that the cause of the stink was a little silverfoil type label on the back of the stove whose adhesive was the cause of it. They said another stove had been returned to them due to the "stinky adhesive." As we say here in Nevada "Sheep Dip." The Hearthstone dealer who did not want to touch our stove suspected the heat exchangers - apparently he knew something but wasn't going to tell. So, we put both heat exchangers into our Jennair oven, put it on "clean" and as soon as the doors clicked shut we cancelled the cleaning cycle. GUESS WHAT: AS SOON AS THE IRON PIECES STARTED TO HEAT, AND WELL BEFORE THE OVEN DOORS CLICKED SHUT, THE SAME FOUL CHEMICAL ODOR SEEPED THROUGH THE OVEN DOOR. And when we opened the oven after the latch released, the stink emanating from the two cast iron heat exchangers was identical to that from the stove when it was fueled with gas. Oh, and we also bought a CO detector immediately after the dealer visit. GUESS AGAIN: Absolutely no carbon monoxide whatsoever, just a nasty smell like from a car engine in the garage after you've returned from a long drive.

    And for a hoot, Hearthstone said we have invalidated their warranty by heating these pieces in our oven - that after we had taken the rest of the innards to recycling and the dump already. We're happy with the little Duraflame,and are considering the Avalon Tree of Life liquid propane stove. The dealer who sells those will fire it up for us in the show room before we make a commitment of another $3,500.
  12. nevadadave

    nevadadave New Member

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    Hi, I was mostly venting:) about my problem with the stinking Hearthstone stove before, but there are some steps you can take to determine whether the odor comes from the inside of your house or the outside. When a wood stove burns, there is quite a bit of smoke coming out of the chimney. It is really, really doubtful that any of the outside smoke coming out of the chimney seeps back into the house through cracks in the window seals, or even a front door that is opened to allow someone to come in. Any smoke smelled in the house comes from the STOVE INSIDE THE HOUSE, whether it is the actual wood burning (wet wood), a downdraft from the flue pipe that forces the air inside the stove through perhaps leaking gaskets in the door. A gas stove burns something that has an additive to make the gas "smellable" for safety reasons. It could give off carbon monoxide through leakage in the stove. This would be odorless were it not for the additive. Were there such a carbon monoxide leak, your co detector would go off to warn you. I hope you do have such a detector near the stove. When the gas burns, the burnt gas goes out though the flue, just like the burnt wood. It has a much fainter smell than the burnt wood smoke. Even if your flue stack opens only 4-5 feet above your roof, and only a few feet from the nearest window below, it is extremely unlikely that any of the burnt lp smell would seep back into the house. The concentration of burnt gas up there is just not enough to create an odor strong enough to come back - somehow - into your house. Gas goes up, not down. You would have to generate one heck of a solid mass of burnt gas around your house, from the ground up, where it would seep back in through closed doors and windows.
    You need not lug your Hearthstone Santa Fe to your upper level to get closer to an answer. With a CO detector nearby and on, create a mini-room around your gas stove by draping a plastic sheet over several high sticks - maybe 6 foot high by six foot wide. Turn on the stove for a little and see what odors develop inside that tent. If it smells worse inside the tent (in the mini-room) it's clearly the stove. I can virtually guarantee the smell will be most intense inside the tent because the stink is coming from the inside of the stove, not drifting back inside the house from the outside flue vent. Anyway, that's how I would approach the problem. Good luck.
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