In the home or workplace, the most common sources for carbon monoxide productions are:
- Wood And Oil Burning Systems
- Automobile Or Truck Exhausts
Testing Flue Gas:
By testing the furnace flue CO level we can determine if the gas furnace is heating efficiently and or if we have
bad burners, plugged ports or even a plugged vent pipe.
To find out how much CO a furnace or HWT is producing, we need to measure an undiluted flue gas sample.
Flue gas samples can be obtained in heat exchanger exhaust ports of atmospheric furnace and space heaters
and in the flue tube, under the diverter of an atmospheric water heater. Sometimes a hole will have to be drilled
into wall vent connections to obtain the undiluted sample.
Carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (ppm), the maximum PPM for a flue gas vent is 400
according to the EPA and AGA. At this point we need to shut down the furnace and diagnose what is causing the
high levels of CO.
Carbon Monoxide in the home:
The last place you want CO is in your home, the most common ways you could get CO in your home from a
furnace or HWT is:
- A hole opening or crack in your heat exchanger.
- A plugged or partially plugged vent pipe.
- An improperly installed vent pipe.
- A broken or collapsed vent pipe.
- A negative pressured area around the appliance.
Testing Heat Exchanger's:
- A visual inspection of the burner flame pattern while the furnace blower cycles off and on is by far the
easiest method to detect a opening or large crack in a heat exchanger. This method will not detect
smaller cracks that do not open up during a burn cycle.
- Dye penetration test is a method using a non-toxic fluorescent penetrating dye. The dye is sprayed onto
the exchanger and then by using a ultra violet light you can inspect the inner exchanger for cracks. But
your limited on how much of the inner exchanger you can see.
- Tracer gas test is a method where you discharge tracer gas into the exchanger, then by using a gas
detector you can test the outside of the exchanger for traces of the gas. Very difficult test, gas can be
lighter than air causing difficult detecting leaks in the lower portions of the exchanger's.
The medical profession has established ceilings of concentration levels of CO and how those concentrations
affect healthy adults.
9 PPM (0.0009%)
35 PPM (0.0035%)
200 PPM (0.02%)
400 PPM (0.04%)
800 PPM (0.08%)
1,600 PPM (0.16%)
3,200 PPM (0.32%)
6,400 PPM (0.64%)
12,800 PPM (1.26%)
The maximum allowable concentration for short
term exposure in a living area according to
The maximum allowable concentration for
continuous exposure in any 8-hour period,
according to federal law.
Slight headache, tiredness, dizziness, nausea
after 2-3 hours.
Frontal headaches within 1-2 hours, life
threatening after 3 hours, also maximum PPM
in flue gas according to the EPA and AGA.
Dizziness, nausea and convulsions within 45
minutes. Unconsciousness within 2 hours.
Death within 2-3 hours.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 20
minutes. Death within 1 hour.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 5-10
minutes. Death within 30 minutes.
Headache, dizziness and nausea within 1-2
minutes. Death within 10-15 minutes.
Death within 1-3 minutes.
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