- I have firsthand experience with a condensing water heater that had been installed and then ignored for years. I was spending the night in a motel room in SE Colorado the night before visiting a remote
jobsite. I was awakened late that night from a dead sleep (after driving for 12 hours) to the sound of a CO detector in my motel room wailing away. Thank God the motel had a working CO detector or me and my service technician might never have awakened. We fired up our trusty combustion analyzer and confirmed that the CO levels in the room were dangerously high. We opened the windows and doors and let the room air out until the CO levels were at 0. We then slept with one eye and the window open for the rest of the night.
- The next day we left the motel before the owner had awakened, so I called him to report what I had experienced. Two days later the owner called me and thanked me for alerting him to the CO issue. The owner had called in the local fire dept and his HVAC firm and they had inspected the condensing water heater and had discovered that the flue had been overheated (most likely due to a filthy combustion chamber). The overheated flue had distorted and the venting had come apart and was belching boiler fumes into the mechanical closet next to the room I was staying in.
- If you install or service condensing boilers, don’t ignore the annual service requirement. If you want to sleep at night (and wake up…) sell your customers a CO detector and make sure that it is checked semi-annually.
By Mike Haigh