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Strong Smoke Odor after Okofen installation

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by NHTreehugger, May 12, 2014.

  1. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    Hoping to get some help solving our smoke odor problem with new installation of Okofen PE 32 boiler. We have very strong smoke odor like a smoldering campfire in out basement which comes up into the kitchen under the door. The odor seems to be coming off the vent pipe which goes to the chimney. The pipe has many seams which have been sealed with silicone and a drafting vent which has also bee covered to try to stop the smoke smell. The chimney has been re-extended further above the roof. The venting pipe from the boiler to the chimney and is about 5 feet and the installer states correct drafting measurements when tested. The Okofen boiler is in front of our propane boiler and we have the propane boiler as a back up. We ran the boiler hard yesterday turned up the heat to 90, and opened the windows and did not get the smoke smell in the house. But this morning it is back again after closing the house up at night with a few windows open. Has anyone else had this problem? Would anyone have any ideas for solutions. Would a double layer 90 degree vent pipe with no seams be possible?'

    Thanks

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  2. TimfromMA

    TimfromMA Minister of Fire

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    A smokey smell is quite common with new installations. It’s usually the pain curing under the high heat. It should go away after a short while.
  3. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    We are 2 weeks into the installation. How long does this smoke smell last?
  4. TimfromMA

    TimfromMA Minister of Fire

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    It shouldn't be that long. The smell I was referring to should go away after a couple hours of running on high.
  5. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I think I would be going up the installer/dealer/manufacturer ladder - something sounds amiss....
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Possibly a draft inducing cap for the top of the chimney??
  7. __dan

    __dan Feeling the Heat

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    My guess would be unburned fuel remains in the burn area after the boiler has shut down for an off cycle. Fuel that is only charcoal remaining probably has no smell, but unburned fuel that has volatiles remaining can have a strong acrid smell as it smolders.

    If the boiler is new, there are probably some setup parameters like post purge, where the boiler will try to burn the remaining fuel in an off, shutdown cycle.

    That's what I would look for, unburned fuel in the burner area when the boiler goes off. Maybe open it up as a burn cycle ends and make sure there are no pellets, creosote, remaining to be seen. For a new install, I would be looking for dealer / factory help with troubleshooting
    BoilerMan likes this.
  8. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    What does the draft in your chimney measure?
    If I read your post correctly, the smell disappears if you burn the boiler with a door or window open? That would seem to indicate not enough combustion air.
    sinnian and BoilerMan like this.
  9. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    Draft is at 0.5 to 0.11
    We have been talking to Maine Energy, but now after 2 weeks we have insisted they come down and look at the boiler and the install.
  10. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    You cant smell it around the boiler, we have stuck our noses all over the boiler inside and out, but it does smell off the vent pipe. It does smell like smoldering wood. We have it on Summer program now because of low need for heat, mostly just fires to keep water hot in the tank.

    Thankfully this is happening now in the spring and we are getting some mild weather so I can air out the house It is really frustrating especially after investing big bucks for purchase and install. It is like buying a new Cadillac but you can't drive it because when you turn on the engine the car fills up with smoke!
  11. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    We are thinking of trying to wrap high temp foil tape around the joints to the vent pipe to the chimney. Has anyone had to use this solution?
  12. henfruit

    henfruit Minister of Fire

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    I use that on my wood boiler smoke pipe. Works fine.
  13. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    I don't think the 0.5 is right - you likely need another '0' in front of the 5. But that's a wide range of draft - at what states of operation/conditions are those measurements?

    And on the tape - it might help the problem, but I would think it wouldn't be necessary if everything was done right and I wouldn't be bandaiding a new install. Keep after everyone on your ladder.

    If the problem seems to alleviate with windows open, maybe you need a fresh air intake, or more ventilation in your basement? It is in your basement, right?
  14. Fred61

    Fred61 Minister of Fire

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    You need to check your draft with the boiler cold. You could use some incense for a smoke test to see if you have a downdraft or you could use a lightweight paper plate to see if there is some updraft at the thimble. Just take the plate and bring it up close to the thimble to see if the draft sucks it in. Pay attention because even if you have a good draft, as soon as the plate is sucked on to the thimble, it will be stopping the draft and will fall off. There will not be continuous suction that will hold the plate in place but it will give you some idea of which direction the cold draft is moving.


    EDIT
    Do these tests with your windows open
  15. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    Where did you find the high temp foil tape? Is it available at Lowes or Home Depot?
  16. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    Yes we have a fresh air vent , 6" diameter aluminum pipe installed in basement wall which leads outside. It is inserted into a plastic barrel to create a draft I think.
    Maine Energy is coming out tomorrow to inspect the boiler and the install. I hope they have the solution to this problem. I agree they need to fix this installation.

    Thanks to everyone's helpful comments and suggestions!
  17. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hello NHT,

    I can't really think of anything that hasn't already been mentioned. I'm just gonna ask: you have a working CO detector, right?

    Noah
    heaterman likes this.
  18. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    yes we have the CO2 monitor, that is a real concern, thanks for asking. Boiler is shut down until Maine Energy looks at it tomorrow.
    Floydian likes this.
  19. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I would measure the draft under various outside conditions, IE: temperature and wind velocity/direction and see if it stays stable.
    Would also recommend checking it with the chimney both cold and hot.

    We ran into a situation where a customer experienced what is called cold "stacking" with a natural draft gas boiler and it sent him to the hospital. It took a little bit to figure out what was going on but basically when the chimney was cold [boiler off for an extended period of time] there was enough ambient temperature air in the chimney to effectively put a lid on it and cause the exhaust to spill out of the draft hood.
    Whenever we went to check it over the course of the week following the incident, the chimney was drawing fine because the stack was warmed up. I finally picked up on it when I happened to check it after the boiler had been off for a couple hours on a mild day.
    The boiler fired and exhaust began to roll out of the draft hood immediately. There was no roll out limit on the hood of the old boiler so it didn't shut down. The draft showed 0.00" so i went outside to see it something was blocking the vent and found it all clear but absolutely no heat coming out of the cap. Everything was going inside. The exhaust was simply following the path of least resistance.

    The chimney was B-vent installed through the basement wall and up the exterior of the house. It was a little oversized for the btu rating of the boiler and the weight/volume of the cold air in the stack was enough to overcome the rise of the lighter exhaust vapor. You might as well have just put a plug in the top of that chimney when the boiler was running with off periods of 2-3 hours.

    We solved the problem by installing a mechanical draft inducer (Tjernlund) that came on whenever the burner fired.

    A few questions for you.........How tall is the chimney? What diameter is it? What material is it made out of? Is it interior or exterior to the house and is it insulated?

    BTW......your draft should probably be in the range of -.03 to -.06 wc". Check the owners manual that came with the unit.

    I know that Windhager specifies stainless insulated pipe for a number of reasons but keeping the flue somewhat warm during off periods is one of them. The triple wall air cooled chimneys do not do that.

    You know...I'm just musing here, but there are a lot of freshly minted techs and installers who have little to no experience with anything but forced draft appliances. The have little knowledge of natural draft and how chimneys work......how old was your installer?
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
    flyingcow likes this.
  20. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    heaterman, you're post reminded me of this.....I've seen people put a few pieces of newspaper in the bottom of chimney, light them off and then start a fire in the semi air tight wood stove. Thats how they started a good draft.
  21. Karl_northwind

    Karl_northwind Member

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    That's how I have to start my hearthstone from cold. otherwise it won't draft worth a damn, and then it doesn't draft well till it starts to heat up.
  22. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    We have stainless steel chimney which goes up the mid basement another 2 stories , and another 4 feet above the roof. It is really tall. Looks 8-10" diameter pipe.

    Maine Energy Rep came down inspected top to bottom the boiler, no issues. We fired the boiler and all in agreement pipe leading to chimney leaking the smoke. we tried taping the seams of the pipe with foiled tape and that seamed to work for one day.
    This morning we have the same problem, basement full of strong smoke smell. the pipe leading to chimney was cold, so I fired up boiler and no smell coming off pipe, it's all blowing out a small fan on the back of the boiler.
    Maine Energy called again and they say it is a drafting problem. Our installer has done several Frohling and Kedel installs, but this his first Okofen install. He is locating a chimney installer now for help and looking into a chimney top draft inducer.
  23. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    We have no problems with smoke smell when the boiler is running all day. So I guess it is the cold air in the morning affecting the draft when the boiler fires in the morning to heat hot water.

    chimney top draft inducers look expensive. Are the automatics draft inducers placed in the vent pipe which are cheaper work just as well?
  24. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    it's all blowing out a small fan on the back of the boiler.

    This sounds like a red flag to me. What is that fan for? Is it not running when it should be? Is it running the wrong way? Seems to me that smoke shouldn't be coming out a fan even if your chimney isn't drafting well. I think I would inform the ME guy that came yesterday about that & see what he says. I know nothing about these units though...
  25. NHTreehugger

    NHTreehugger New Member

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    Ok I will call them now.

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