Mysterious smell / asthma from DIRECT VENT unit. Please help!

Solar Posted By Solar, Oct 23, 2012 at 3:58 PM

  1. Solar

    New Member 2.

    Oct 22, 2012
    I have a direct vent unit from Travis / Fireplace X - the 34GSR. This is a direct vent fireplace insert, installed into an existing masonry chimney.

    It's making me sick.

    I have asthma, which is why I got a direct vent unit. The unit has been run for more than a year, and ever since it arrived, I noticed an increase in asthma symptoms. For a while, I dismissed it as unrelated. Now, however, it's reached the point where if I sit for a few hours in the room with the direct vent insert, I will get asthma that night. Last week, I had to go to the hospital to get nebulized, which is why I registered here. I don't normally have severe asthma, and I have no problem at my friends house who has a normal wood-burning fireplace.

    This is a direct vent unit, so my understanding is that it's basically a heat exchanger - air from the combustion chamber should be going up the chimney. Room air should presumably be circulated through it and heated up. There should, in theory, be no issues - in theory, this is basically the same as my house's gas furnace.

    There is slight burning odor when the fireplace is running - you distinctly notice it when you walk into the room that has the fireplace. Since this is a sealed unit, I've tried to look around the stove to see if the stove is touching anything outside that could be melting / causing the smell, and I've found nothing. The odor is not the issue per se, it's the resultant severe asthma that's the issue.

    Could someone please advise what could be causing this? Again, this is a direct vent unit, so combustion products are going straight out the chimney. Where could the smell be coming from?

    Here's a link to the 34 GSR site:

    And here's a link to the user manual:

    Any suggestions on what could be causing the smell would be much appreciated.
  2. FanMan

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Mar 4, 2012
    CT stix & upstate NY
    Sounds like a bad install, or perhaps a crack or leaky gasket in the heat exchanger.
  3. DAKSY

    Patriot Guard Rider Moderator 2.
    Staff Member

    Dec 2, 2008
    Averill Park, NY, on Burden Lake II...
    Call your installer & demand that they come out & correct the problem. There could be a tear in the DV liner or the intake & exhaust could be be connected to the wrong part of the cap. You should get absolutely no smells from a DV unit after you have done the initial burn off to cure the paints, oils & adhesives used in the manufacture of the unit. It could also be burning off residue that was left in the fireplace from whatever was burned in there before the insert was installed. Either way it falls back on the installer...
  4. eclecticcottage

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 7, 2011
    x3 this is not right for a DV unit. We have two at our old house and aside from the dust burn off for the first use or two every year and the original curing, there is no smell.

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