Basic questions about old apt heating system

Old 05-21-14, 09:33 PM
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Basic questions about old apt heating system

Hello, I live in a very old apt- built in the early 1900s, with not the best apt maintenance support. I'm hoping to get some info about what kind of heating system is installed and what, if any dangers I should be aware of and should pay particular attention to with this system- ie: risk of CO leaks etc.

My second question, and the main reason why I am posting this is because every once in a while, around one of the long heat pipes in my kitchen, that goes from floor to ceiling (pictured), a fairly decent amount of debris collects in the surrounding area. It's mostly black, and small, about the size of mouse droppings (but very light- not dense), some larger chunks and some brown debris- does anyone know what this stuff could be and where it could be coming from?? It looks like it's coming from up high somewhere, but I don't see any visible gaps.. What would cause it to fall? The pipe sometimes makes loud clunking noises when the heat is on.. One of my concerns with the apt since it's so old is presence of asbestos- so I don't want to clean up or disturb the debris if it might be hazardous.. I'd appreciate any help/info anyone could give me regarding these concerns as I've been trying to figure this out for a while now!
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Old 05-21-14, 10:27 PM
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Carbon monoxide is produced by incomplete combustion. Nothing burning in your apartment, just steam heat. The dangers of asbestos are more in the minds of the lawyers and remediation companies than reality. Yes, there is a danger if you work in a cloud of it eight or ten hours a day for 10 or 20 years but not from occasional exposure to small quantities.
Old 05-22-14, 12:50 AM
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You have a one-pipe steam heating system. The "dirt" you see is probably just that, dirt. The insulation where the pipe goes through the ceiling IS suspect and if you rent you might be able to have the owner give you a certificate stating it is not asbestos, or force the owner into having it tested and if asbestos, removed. If you own the apartment the testing and abatement is probably going to come out of your pocket depending on what kind of agreement you have with the building association.
Old 05-22-14, 08:08 AM
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Use duct tape to "sop up" the brown and black debris, and then see if more appears. The way it is, the debris you see now might have accumulated over several decades.

Asbestos used to cover heating pipes can be sealed in place. That would be a job for your landlord although "anyone's" gently painting it over is not unheard of.

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