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Old 11-20-2011, 12:03 AM   #1
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


My HVAC contractor recently installed a new Tempstar gas furnace in my home. Prior to start up I was told there might be a little smoke at the initial start up. The smoke, I was told, would be caused by the vegetable oil on the heat exchanger burning off and that it would smell like maple syrup. When the furnace did first start up there was extreme amount of smoke that filled the basement and the smoke also back drafted into the living area of the home. The smoke was so extensive that my wife couldn't see through it and thought there was a fire. After the installers left we tried "curing" the furnace and ran it for another 6 hours. Each time we ran the furnace there was a continuous stink coming through the ducts. The contractor volunteered to pull out the furnace and put in a brand new one and guaranteed there would be absolutely no smell. However within 5 minutes of the new furnace start up (he did the fire-off in his shop) there was the same bad smell coming through the ducts. He said it was the residual smoke particulates from the first furnace's fire-off and walked out of the house. Is this smoke and smell a normal thing and is there anyway for me to fix the problem other than having the ducts cleaned or completely changed out? What is the contractor's responsibility? I am refusing to pay the balance owed until I get the quality heated air I was guaranteed, but he has already gone to his lawyer seeking payment and collections. It's only been about 1 month since the initial install of furnace #1. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. I have hired a lawyer as well.

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Old 11-20-2011, 12:27 AM   #2
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


Yes, there is a residual oil on the new heat exchanger that produces a noticeable smell which burns off which causes a distinct smell. However it is usually just a smell, one that usually lasts only for a few heat cycles before it's non noticeable, and not a smoke, especially a smoke that invades the living space.

Smoke, especially one that permeates the living space and makes it non liveable, is not a good sign at all.

He can talk to a lawyer and he does have a mechanics lien on your home (which means you can not attempt to mortgage your home or make money off of it in any way such as getting a loan or re-financing until he's paid and it looks bad on your credit) but in this instance you can hire someone else such as a fire marshall or hvac contractor to determine why there is invading smoke and so much of it.

More than likely it will burn off shortly and you'll be alright.


Last edited by Doc Holliday; 11-20-2011 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:54 AM   #3
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


Tempstar is not a top of the line furnace, not that it's inadequate. It's production in the factory is pretty much builders grade so they more than lkely didn't pay attention and/or simply do not care as to how much oil is left on heat exchanger at time of production.

The oily residue will burn off soon enough and you will not ever notice it again. The reason I say that is theyre not a high quality production with attention to small detail is they're built to get out and install.


All new furnaces will have that noticeable smell, some more than others. That being said I've never heard of a thick and choking smoke being sent through the ducts and into a living space due to the oil.

Again, it may have more oil left on the heat exchanger being the standard for the brand in it's production which is normal for said brand and despite the visible and chokeable condition of said excessive oil it will not be permanent. Might take a bit longer to burn off as it's a cheaper design with a lot of oil left behind but the smoke and smell will disappear and be non noticeable within a few more cycles.

I'd be surprised if if you noticed any of the foul happenings, smoke and smell, past one full week.
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Old 11-20-2011, 04:19 AM   #4
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


Turn thermostat 10 degrees higher then room temp(or to 80), and let it run.

Tempstar is an ICP product, and ICP is owned by Carrier.
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:52 AM   #5
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


Tough spot for both of you. He's deep in the red already and won't get in any deeper until paid and you don't want to pay until the smell is gone.

Most new furnaces/heat exchangers have that oil smell on start up. Once in a while they smoke like yours did. Some the smell is gone in minutes and I've been in a house that still had the oil smell a year later, smoke gone after the first firing though. The issue is not brand or model specific.

My advice is read the contract. If it has a 100% satisfaction guarantee then tell him to come get the furnace and hire someone else. If it simply states cost to install xyz furnace then he has gone above and beyond the contract already so pay the man. Lawyer fees would be better spent on a cleaning crew.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:04 AM   #6
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


[quote=My advice is read the contract. If it has a 100% satisfaction guarantee then tell him to come get the furnace and hire someone else. If it simply states cost to install xyz furnace then he has gone above and beyond the contract already so pay the man. Lawyer fees would be better spent on a cleaning crew.[/quote]

I agree. We get 1-2 a yr where the customer does not like the sound or look of the install and we yank the furnace and tell em to go elsewhere. Some people are EXTREMELY sensitive to smells that other people won't notice. Had a lady with a bloodhound nose that could smell gas in a basement. Leak was so small soap bubbles would not show it but the gas co sniffer did. They will go to the fine print and if there is no 100% satisfaction clause you will have to pay. You can go after Tempstar but that will be expensive and difficult.
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Old 11-20-2011, 08:19 AM   #7
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


I recall that when my Rheem Mod was installed, the HX had a brownish coating, suggestive of Cosmoline.

Before they fired it up, they 'suggested' that we open some windows. We did. There was an odor--I wouldn't call it Maple syrup, but it was gone in 15 -20 minutes as I recall.
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:24 PM   #8
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


Thank you for your detailed response. I am wondering if the residual smoke particulates in the ducts will reside there for a long time because of the nature of the oil smoke. Is it somewhat "sticky" and hence coat the duct and not easily removable by the curing of the furnace? Do you think having a damage recovery company come in to clean or change out the duct work the best way to go? Right now it's hard to stay in the house when the heater runs and it's too rainy and cold to stay outside while trying to get the furnace to recover a neutral air position. Thanks again for your time and thoughts.
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Old 11-20-2011, 06:07 PM   #9
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


I've commissioned my fair share of gas furnaces. I have never seen smoke in the home on a newly fired furnace. You can most always smell the burn off of the residual oils, but visible smoke? How thick do the ICP heat exchangers come coated? That seems a bit excessive, or lazy, depending on how you look at it. The last Carrier owned/branded furnace I installed was a Bryant, and that was a long time ago. We never had any problems with those at all.
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:31 PM   #10
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


I've been installing Carrier furnaces for the past 10 years pretty steady and Lennox and Carrier for 10 years previous to that for a grand total well over 600 units and have experienced the burn off smell many times. I have only seen actual smoke a couple of times. Opened the windows and cranked it up for a good hour or so, no more issues. Don't know what to make of your situation, how long ago did the second furnace get installed and how long are your typical heating cycles?

I would be hesitant to condemn the whole product line, as ICP sells more HVAC equipment than anyone else in North America. If this were a standard problem there would be thousands of people complaining about the same thing.
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Old 11-21-2011, 01:01 AM   #11
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Smoke from Initial Fire-off


Satisfaction Rating:
Very Unsatisfied

Review:
"owner"
purchased a 2 Tempstar stage furnace in 2003, had 6 service calls. main bd or smart valve problems each time. The smart valve went bad once again on 11/2/2010 and since it is out of warranty I will have to pay $400 to repair. No one could figure out what the reason for so many problems. Even with so many service calls, Tempstar local dealers are not standing behind their product. I refuse to pay for the ongoing problems and will be looking to purchase a different furnace altogether.

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