Smell from heating vents / also gas furnace closet not vented....

angiebyteDecember 8, 2010

Hello,

thank you in advance for any advice you may be able to offer. We are buying a house built in 1958. We just had the home inspection done, and he mentioned the following concerns about the gas furnace.

The closet the gas furnace is in, is not ventilated. The closet does not have a roof, but opens up into the attic. He does not think there is enough fresh air making it down to the furnace, and he does not think the fumes from the furnace are making it up into the attic.

He has instructed us to nail some gutter pipe (gutter pipe, because it is square, and will fit the limited space better than round pipe, but to mee gutter pipe seems awfully small diameter) into the closet to increase circulation. One peice going 12 inches into the attic, and another peice 12 inches off the floor. To me this seems awfully suspicious, I cant see how this will work, and I'm scared.

He also noticed that someone has stapled fibergalss insulation to the insed of the closet door, and we should remove that. That the entire door needs to be replaced with a very tight fitting door.

He said everything else was fine.

After he left, I used the bathroom and I noticed a strange smell coming from the vents. Like partially burnt natural gas. We have a ventless gas fireplace in our apt, and whenever we run it, it gives a strange gassy smell. It smells just like that. Not quite like rotten eggs additive- but not right, either. I also noticed the smell in the kitchen.

We left, but the next day, the realtor had the gas co out, and the could not find any gas leaks, etc and they did not smell what I had smelled the day before. But I know what I smelled, and my husband smelled it too.

The question is, are the instructions the inspector gave to ventilate that closet a good idea? Will nailing some pipes to the side walls of the closet really bring in fresh air and vent fumes to the attic?

What do you make of that smell from the floor vents?

Thank you so much in advance, we are due to move in a few weeks and need to know what to do, who to call, etc.

angie

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tmgeorgo

You are right to be concerned, the situation doesn't sound safe or up to code. Also, I don't think the suggestions the inspector made to ventilate the space are valid. I would contact an HVAC contractor from a well respected company in your area, or the local building inspection dept and have them take a look. If I were buying this house, I would have this sorted out before I went to closing. There's no way would I feel comfortable moving into a house with a furnace setup like this, just as winter is approaching.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 8:31PM
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energy_rater_la

"The closet the gas furnace is in, is not ventilated. The closet does not have a roof, but opens up into the attic. He does not think there is enough fresh air making it down to the furnace, and he does not think the fumes from the furnace are making it up into the attic."

the closet is actually very well vented if it is open to the attic at the ceiling (roof?) of the closet.

"He has instructed us to nail some gutter pipe (gutter pipe, because it is square, and will fit the limited space better than round pipe, but to mee gutter pipe seems awfully small diameter) into the closet to increase circulation. One peice going 12 inches into the attic, and another peice 12 inches off the floor. To me this seems awfully suspicious, I cant see how this will work, and I'm scared."

I usually install a ceiling in gas furnace closets using ductboard (doesnt burn) from inside the attic. Usually a
5 or 6" vent pipe from inside attic..12" above insulation
with a bug screen. the pipe goes thru ductboard ceiling
to where the air intake of the gas furnace is located.
I've started putting an inline manual damper..open when furnace is in use..closed for cooling season.

"He also noticed that someone has stapled fibergalss insulation to the inside of the closet door, and we should remove that. That the entire door needs to be replaced with a very tight fitting door."

Someone was trying to overcome the temp transfer from
top of heating closet being open to attic. Bat insulation
is not a good idea..but ductboard works well.
and door should be weatherstripped.

while the venting will supply the air needed for the furnace, it won't vent fumes. there shouldn't be any fumes
if furnace is operating properly..there are vent pipes attached to the equipment that vent out of the roof.

as for the smell...it could have been a sealant that he used
or many things.

I would call the original person who did the install
and tell him your concerns. Granted there are better materials to use but it sounds like he/she was on
the right track.

better to close in ceiling and make it air tight
and bring fresh air to the furnace than to leave
the ceiling open to the attic.

just my experience here in hot humid La.
it may vary if your area is different.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2010 at 9:09PM
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angiebyte

energy rater,

Thank you both for your reply.
I don't know who did the installation, it's been there for about 6 years. I don't think it has been touched since then, so any sealant smell should be gone.

I had the realtor get the Gas Co out there and they stayed for an hour , to check for gas leaks. they didnt find any and he also did not smell what i smelled.

I think I am going to contact an HVAC guy to come look at it. The inspector said it needed something to vent fresh air and he said the point of the circulation was in case it was producing small amts of carbon monoxide.

Thank you so much for your time.

angie

    Bookmark   December 11, 2010 at 12:17PM
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