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Old 01-05-2012, 01:25 AM   #16
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Well my first question would be just what do you think those charred pieces were from? A badly burning or oxygen starved flame creates soot, not charred anything unless there was already something there to char. I've got no answers to that but it does seem strange.

The second pondering was if the smell your getting was just from a fan motor on it's way to a dirt nap. Can you turn off the power to the furnace just as the motor starts to run and access the blower compartment to take a whiff. Can you try the thermostat fan switch or a summer fan switch to see if you can get that same smell when the burners are off.

You may or may not have a cracked exchanger. Cracks that are open when cold can close up when hot and vise versa so there are endless smell variations that can occur. The trick is to find a tech that is objective and just not an ethically challenged peddler of furnaces. If anyone says you have a crack, make sure they explain how they determined that and to show you that evidence. The most reliable source for finding a trustworthy tech will be from neighbours who regularly get there furnaces serviced, especially if they have older units.

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Old 01-11-2012, 12:10 PM   #17
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Sorry everyone for the late reponse, the forum was not emailing when there were new posts so I thought no one cared about me any more.

Update: I took everyone's advice and called a tech. I asked around and checked online and had someone come out that was recommended by a friend of mine. Apparently I got a different tech than he did becasue the salesman, I mean tech that I got was not all that good. He came over smelled the odor and said he had never smelled anything like that. He said it was definitely not a damaged heat exchanger smell. He opened up my furnace including the burner box and said that one of my burn chambers was definitely not burning correct because there was a lot of damage on that burner. He then said that would cause high Carbon Monoxide and could kill us. "You need a new Furnace"! How about fixing it? "No, its better to put in a new one, we offer financing" How much is the new furnace. "For a direct replacement you are looking at at $3400 plus tax". Ok, I think for now I will have to turn off the furnace and just use our fireplace and space heaters. Can you please check with your meter to see if we have carbon monoxide now? He pulls out a Fluke CO-220 and begins to test the area around my furnace (in the garage) and then inside the house at all the vents. This was done with all the heater running during. He measured an 11 in the garage and an "Average" of 9 in the house. His conclusion was that the garage was above the general level and the house was below the general level and was ok, but if it went up it would be bad. He said the general level was 10 ppm. I didn't follow him around the house but in the garage I did notice that he would put the meter against the furnace and hit a button, then after a few seconds he would hit another button. He should me the reading of 11ppm. Once he heard that I was not interested in buying a new furnace he was not interested anymore and started to put things away. He never did a thorough inspection and was actually ready to do paperwork before I asked him to test the levels. His recommendation was to buy carbon monoxide detectors and replace as soon as possible.

My thoughts: I bought 5 new carbon monoxide detectors with digital readouts and a tester like his from amazon for about $200 total. Since then I the detectors have not moved from the 0ppm reading and I have tested using my meter and had a 3 around my furnace and a 0 in the house. I test almost every day and nothing has changed. The smell has actually started to go away a little bit everyday. I cleaned the heck out of every vent, return vent and the inside of the cabinet. I also went underneath the house and checked for damage to the ducts were rodents might have gotten in and died. He never offered any of these solutions just the sales pitch. I though it was funny that he had a tool belt and a binder labeled "Furnace Cost Plans". He didn't have any reference material, instructions or even fancy tools, just a nice big price book. Not the best experience with this company and they will not be recommended. It is another reason people like myself are weary of calling the "pros" and do a lot of this stuff ourselves.

I think I know the problem: I do know that the unit is old and needs to be replaced, but I think the problem is that when I first put on the ignitor I used my shop vac to clean up all the soot and dust that was in the cabinet. Of course I didn't check my shop vac and didn't realize the filter was not on and I had a garage full of black soot air every were. To this day my tools and bikes are covered in this soot. I feel that maybe since the cabinet was open, might have got some of that soot in the fan, filter or motor housing and that is what I smelling. I think with time this will burn off and I will not smell it anymore.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:24 PM   #18
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Could be true. When we start furnaces in the fall if they don't have AC in the house then dust accumulates on the heat ex and will give a burning smell on the first run. I would not trust CO detectors as they are designed for catastrophic failures like blocked chimneys. Unless you get a truly Pro model for $500 -1000 which is certified and calibrated with an approved and certified sample of 50 ppm test gas by a lab or manufacturer like Bacharach then there is no reliable or 100% accuracy in the lower cost units. I use a $300 unit BUT when I find CO or if the customer has ANY CO symptoms I get the gas co/utility down with their calibrated $1000 unit that is accurate to 1 ppm 99.5 % of the time.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:29 PM   #19
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Thanks Yuri, that is my next plan. Since its free I am going to call the gas company to come out and test to see if there are any issues.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:33 PM   #20
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cessna1466u View Post
Sorry everyone for the late response, the forum was not emailing when there were new posts so I thought no one cared about me any more.

Update: I took everyone's advice and called a tech. I asked around and checked online and had someone come out that was recommended by a friend of mine. Apparently I got a different tech than he did because the salesman, I mean tech that I got was not all that good. He came over smelled the odor and said he had never smelled anything like that. He said it was definitely not a damaged heat exchanger smell. He opened up my furnace including the burner box and said that one of my burn chambers was definitely not burning correct because there was a lot of damage on that burner. He then said that would cause high Carbon Monoxide and could kill us. "You need a new Furnace"! How about fixing it? "No, its better to put in a new one, we offer financing" How much is the new furnace. "For a direct replacement you are looking at at $3400 plus tax". OK, I think for now I will have to turn off the furnace and just use our fireplace and space heaters. Can you please check with your meter to see if we have carbon monoxide now? He pulls out a Fluke CO-220 and begins to test the area around my furnace (in the garage) and then inside the house at all the vents. This was done with all the heater running during. He measured an 11 in the garage and an "Average" of 9 in the house. His conclusion was that the garage was above the general level and the house was below the general level and was OK, but if it went up it would be bad. He said the general level was 10 ppm. I didn't follow him around the house but in the garage I did notice that he would put the meter against the furnace and hit a button, then after a few seconds he would hit another button. He should me the reading of 11ppm. Once he heard that I was not interested in buying a new furnace he was not interested anymore and started to put things away. He never did a thorough inspection and was actually ready to do paperwork before I asked him to test the levels. His recommendation was to buy carbon monoxide detectors and replace as soon as possible.

My thoughts: I bought 5 new carbon monoxide detectors with digital readouts and a tester like his from amazon for about $200 total. Since then I the detectors have not moved from the 0ppm reading and I have tested using my meter and had a 3 around my furnace and a 0 in the house. I test almost every day and nothing has changed. The smell has actually started to go away a little bit everyday. I cleaned the heck out of every vent, return vent and the inside of the cabinet. I also went underneath the house and checked for damage to the ducts were rodents might have gotten in and died. He never offered any of these solutions just the sales pitch. I though it was funny that he had a tool belt and a binder labeled "Furnace Cost Plans". He didn't have any reference material, instructions or even fancy tools, just a nice big price book. Not the best experience with this company and they will not be recommended. It is another reason people like myself are weary of calling the "pros" and do a lot of this stuff ourselves.

I think I know the problem: I do know that the unit is old and needs to be replaced, but I think the problem is that when I first put on the ignitor I used my shop vac to clean up all the soot and dust that was in the cabinet. Of course I didn't check my shop vac and didn't realize the filter was not on and I had a garage full of black soot air every were. To this day my tools and bikes are covered in this soot. I feel that maybe since the cabinet was open, might have got some of that soot in the fan, filter or motor housing and that is what I smelling. I think with time this will burn off and I will not smell it anymore.
you are very correct, you did not receive a visit from a tech, rather a sales person. This is why i hate commissioned service techs. they constantly put money in front of safety.Is this unit fired on LP or natural gas? Its very rare for a NG unit to soot up........it happens but its rare.LP on the other hand soots up easily and often if its not properly maintained.Most likely your unit is seriously starved for good clean combustion air. I would have a second opinion for sure, try to find a well established company, and make it clear to the person on the phone that you DEMAND to have a older experienced tech at your house, or he will not be let in.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:38 PM   #21
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Harleyrider, this is a natural gas unit. Maybe what I am describing is not soot. There is a burner that looks kind of like a pickle fork (3 prongs) it goes into a cavity that is decided into 3 compartments. Inside one of the compartments at the bottom is a lot of black ashy stuff. That burner is really burned up too. It is a sealed box so how would I give it more air? My question to that rep was when he said that the smell was not a cracked heater exchange smell but possibly a bad mixture or bad unit smell was that if the unit is sealed how am I getting the bad mixture smell into the airflow?
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:57 PM   #22
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Post the complete model # and some pics of the unit with both doors off and that burner etc. RPJ is Heil/ICP and they have dozens of variations of them so we need to see it.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:15 PM   #23
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post
"Every, and I mean every,furnace heat exchanger I found sooted up had a big ol crack in it."
Not true, check the older Bryant/Carrier furnaces the air adjustment on the burners is screwed right through the burner a natural trap for any lint etc... have seen plenty of furnaces plugged with soot because they are starved for air. Piece of crap design on the burners, but keeps us in business. LOL
I think it's a safe bet he was referring to modern furnaces and not the dinosaurs of thirty years ago.

Last edited by hvac5646; 01-11-2012 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:43 PM   #24
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Unburned Gas Smell.


Quote:
Originally Posted by cessna1466u View Post
Harleyrider, this is a natural gas unit. Maybe what I am describing is not soot. There is a burner that looks kind of like a pickle fork (3 prongs) it goes into a cavity that is decided into 3 compartments. Inside one of the compartments at the bottom is a lot of black ashy stuff. That burner is really burned up too. It is a sealed box so how would I give it more air? My question to that rep was when he said that the smell was not a cracked heater exchange smell but possibly a bad mixture or bad unit smell was that if the unit is sealed how am I getting the bad mixture smell into the airflow?

well, from a plugged or obstructed intake and a faulty or by-passed pressure switch.

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