new install: gas detector needed?


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Old 08-27-12, 11:15 AM
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new install: gas detector needed?

the gas will be hooked up to the boiler in the next few weeks so i figured now is a good time to do some research. for over 10 years i've had a CO detector plugged in 3 ft from the oil boiler.

i see on amazon they have combo gas/CO detectors. should i ditch my CO standalone and buy a new combo detector or just add on a gas detector?

any favorite brands or other hints?

setup is in the 1st floor utility room if that matters.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 11:17 AM
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I've never had one, I rely on the fact there is a smell in the gas. CO does not have an odor so a warning device is indicated.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 01:32 PM
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Cleaning products and spray cans could cause false alarms.
 
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Old 08-27-12, 03:38 PM
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CO ALARMS need replaced every 5 years. Remember what is available at the box store is an alarm and not a detector. Most alarms are so dumbed down due to false alarms that they don't even work when sitting in a bag with 100 ppm CO for over an hour. You should look at the site COexperts.com
 
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Old 08-27-12, 08:04 PM
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Older furnaces and boilers could easily spill combustion gasses into the dwelling space if the chimney became plugged. If the burners were dirty and making carbon monoxide, that could cause injuries or death.

In my years as a gas utility repairman, I encountered MANY plugged chimneys and plenty of furnaces that were a hazard.

However, new furnaces and boilers have safety checks and wont operate if the chimney is plugged. A CO detector in the vicinity of a newer furnace or boiler is a waste of money, in my opinion.
 
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Old 08-28-12, 02:30 AM
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Natural draft water heaters are still sold - anyone who has one should have a co alarm at least on the same floor. (especially if there's a mid efficiency furnace venting into the same chimney)

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With respect to alarms, it's best to get one with a digital display that reads down to 30 ppm.

UL specifies that alarms can't go off below 70ppm which is crazy.
 
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Old 08-28-12, 04:05 AM
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not only can they not go off below 70 ppm, but it must be above that amount for a specified time. It is ridiculous.
 
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Old 08-28-12, 05:50 AM
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the CO unit i have now has an LED with numbers..always says zero but how would i 'test' it anyway?

and i know a few years ago it worked. i had my older car in the garage, which is at least 50 ft away thru a breezway, and the darn alarm went off..i thougth the boiler dude did it since he was just there that day. then figured out it was the car

sounds like no matter what i need something new though. this is def more than 10 years old.

regarding the smell of gas being my detector, id rather rely on an alarm, my sense of smell is poor.

i do have another question, when i had my old boiler in and they came to clean it, the smoke detector went off..it's in the same utility room..but the CO never did..sincne my new boiler was installed i just automatcially take out the battery so i cant even say if it would set off the smoke as well.

but should the CO detector go off while the boiler is open and firing? if so , it never has.

ill have to look for a unit with 30 ppm as you stated above..i definitely want something.
 
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Old 08-28-12, 04:05 PM
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To be clear, they don't make noise at 30 ppm - you have to look at the display from time to time.

For an early audible warning, you need to get a co monitor which doesn't have ul approval.

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The co alarm should never go off when the boiler is firing, whether it's open or not.

The exhaust of a properly operating boiler or furnace normally has less than 30 ppm co (you can probably get less than 15 from a really well tuned unit), and everything is supposed to be vented outside.
 
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Old 08-28-12, 06:47 PM
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the CO unit i have now has an LED with numbers..always says zero but how would i 'test' it anyway?
I have/had one like that also. I got a test kit that has a small plastic bag and a glass vial of a calibrated CO sample designed for the volume of the bag. You place the monitor and vial in the bag, seal the end with a twist tie and then break the vial. The CO indicator should immediately start to "ramp up" the display reading and at a certain point (I forget exactly what point) the alarm should go off. I then found it wouldn't reset properly and now it just gathers dust.

Now for the bad news. Consumer models of CO detectors are only slightly less than useless in my opinion. I used to specify, install and service CO monitors on large compressed air installations that were used for breathing air. Our "alert" settings were for 5ppm (parts per million) CO in air and compressor shutdown in case the CO level rose to 10ppm. The first generation of units had a scale of 0 to 100 ppm and so the 5 and 10 ppm points were "working in the mud" as instrument technicians say. The second generation models were considerably better with a 0 to 50 ppm span but they also had a terrible "drift' problem and would not stay at zero with uncontaminated air and would often not return to 0 after the CO in the test air was cleared. Then again, they were quite sensitive in that I could tell how the traffic was on the adjacent freeway by the CO level shown on the meter as it would rise about 3ppm during the rush hour.

The third generation of units I bought just a sensor and then built the rest of the monitoring and indicating system. These sensors were much better than in the original units and were quite stable, only needing recalibration on a monthly basis vs. the weekly or more often on the original sensors. In any case, the cost and maintenance requirements would never fly in a consumer model.
 
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Old 08-29-12, 05:54 AM
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i just called the company and they said the gas is live and just cut off the lock and go...my installer will get done tomorrow afternoon and he's not happy..wants them to come out and do what i paid them the install fee for..plus he said they should monitor it for 10 min and make sure no leaks once turned on..

are all gas companies this lazy?
 
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Old 08-29-12, 06:58 AM
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I can tell you firsthand mine is not, they jump when there's the slightest threat of a leak.
 
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Old 08-30-12, 10:21 AM
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it's not quite installed totally yet but i hvae to report that my CO detector is at 35..he's having a heck of a time dialing it in..rumbles..gotta adjust the input and we are down to a mild growl...but on startup its still a mess

i think i'm definitely keeping my existing CO since i know it works..had the fan on sucking the CO out and we are down to zero finally
 

Last edited by luckydriver; 08-30-12 at 11:17 AM.
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Old 08-30-12, 03:23 PM
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As previously stated, products of combustion should never enter the house even if the boiler isn't properly tuned.

You have a very dangerous venting problem on your hands.
 
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Old 08-30-12, 05:21 PM
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went back to zero after venting the house. all is well...even said he has zero CO in the stack now
 
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Old 08-31-12, 03:37 PM
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well something is amiss...it's up to 20 and smells..he'll be out tonight...cant wait to see what this is
 
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Old 08-31-12, 10:18 PM
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My experience as a gas utility first responder was that quite often CO detectors were triggered by problems other than gas equipment. Carbon monoxide from idling car engines, even outdoors, happened fairly frequently. Candles are a good source of a problem. ANY other fuel burning appliance can be a problem.

I packed off more than one person to the hospital with CO poisoning caused by a small dirty pilot light on a gas range, usually in a small apartment.
 
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Old 09-04-12, 06:07 AM
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definitely isnt anything else. nothing in the house could cause it but the boiler. thankfully after the other day there hasnt been a single reading since then so that part of the equation has been solved.

and ill never get new windows or door in the utililty room because the old ones have great 'ventiliation properties'
 
 

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