Exhaust smell in forced hot air system


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Old 01-04-12, 03:36 AM
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Exhaust smell in forced hot air system

I've read several posts by other members of this forum. Most of the suggestions are the same. Which are great. Personally I think my situation is a bit unique. In fact, I think most of you will cringe once I explain.

House:
  • Built in 1860's
  • No basement
  • Furnace room is small room off of living room.
  • Furnace is over 20 years old.
  • No cold air returns!!!!!!
  • Permanent ceiling on first floor.
  • Granite foundation.
  • Layout:
    • Original house had a granite foundation. This is where the kitchen/dinning room area resides.
    • An addition was put on in the early 1900's which added a garage. Which was converted into the living room and furnace room.
    • The kitchen/dinning room and the living room at separated by a the original granite foundation wall. It was kept in place.


About 4 years ago we brought in a tin knocker to see if we can get cold air returns put in. He told me this was not possible as the furnace room in too small to put in the size return required. If he did put anything in that room, it would produce a significant noise due to being improperly sized. At the time, he pointed out that our exhaust problem is due to lack of fresh air. He suggested we crack the window in the furnace room to provide exterior air, and to cutout part of the sound proofing put on the louvered door for the furnace room. This seemed to correct the issue. Yet it's back.


We have been told by one tech that the heat exchanger is cracked. Which he demonstrated by poking a screwdriver into it. Not sure what that proves. After that, we brought in another tech from a different company. He told us that the heat exchanger is fine.


Either way, at over 20 years old, I believe I am at the point of needing to replace the furnace. I struggle with this option due to the lack of cold air returns. The system is rated at 85% efficiency, but with no cold air returns, I'd be willing to bet it runs at 50% of that number.

I've looked at replacing the system with a forced hot water system. We've been quoted at 15k as a ballpark, and they felt it could go higher. Putting in a forced hot water system comes with own set of issues.

First, the first floor zone would either have to bore through the granite foundation in order to maintain the heat distribution between the living room and the kitchen/dinning room. Otherwise the zone would have to go up and over the granite wall that separates the two rooms. They felt that would result in heat loss to the point where the kitchen and dinning room would be much cooler than the living room.

An alternative would be to put in two zones for the first floor. Two problems stem from this solution. The company felt that both zones would be competing against each other resulting in the furnace coming on and off far too often. The second part is that the kitchen does not have any wall space for radiators. They would need to put in toe kick heaters, but felt this would not produce enough heat.

I almost forgot. They did offer another alternative to heating the first floor. To break up the existing slab, and re-pour the slab with radiant heat in the floor. I like this solution for the first floor the best, but all I could see were mounting dollar signs.

This brings me back to the original problem. How to fix the smell of exhaust fumes in the forced hot air system?


Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Boettg33
 
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Old 01-04-12, 03:45 AM
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At 20 years old the heat exchanger may very well be failed. IF the tech was able to poke a screwdriver through the wall of the heat exchanger (should have physically shown you this) then it is failed. Get quotes for a replacement forced air furnace from different contractors and bring them into your home so they can see exactly what is necessary to give you proper operation from your Heating equipment. There is ALWAYS a solution. It is just how much you are willing to pay to get it done right.
 
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Old 01-09-12, 07:04 AM
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Thank you. Based on the house, I am considering going with a forced hot water system. However; I am not sure if a phased approach would work.


With the lack of space to put in cold air returns, would I be better at looking into forced hot water?

From a financial standpoint, I could not afford to completely replace my forced hot air with 4 zones all at once. Instead, I was thinking of getting the forced hot water system and tying into the existing configuration with an air handler. Then down the road have someone come in to add the zones. Would tackling this project in phases be feasible?



Thank you


Boettg33
 
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Old 01-09-12, 03:20 PM
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you will need to talk to your local contractors about this.
 
 

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