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This US CPSC document describes a brief heating system safety warning for homeowners. The CPSC reminds owners to be sure that their heating service contractor also checks the chimney, flue, and flue vent connector as
part of annual service (or when a problem is suspected). Unsafe chimneys and flues present a carbon monoxide hazard risk which can be fatal, as well as fire risks in buildings.
We [website authors] advise that special care be
taken to inspect older buildings with large masonry flues into which gas-fired appliances have been vented, dead-end chimneys which are easily blocked by falling debris, chimneys with no caps (easily invaded by
birds or animals), single-wythe brick flues (a fire and gas leak hazard), and chimneys which have been damaged by leaks or movement.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 1988
Release # 88-92
Home Heating System Should Be Checked Now [for proper venting and for CO Carbon Monoxide Hazards - DJF]
WASHINGTON - Government safety experts are urging consumers to have central heating systems inspected this fall even
though the heat may have already been turned on.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that central heating equipment be inspected annually by a
qualified heating contractor. The furnace or boiler as well as electrical and mechanical components, valves, thermostat
controls and automatic safety switches should be tested for proper operation to protect against possible overheating or
fuel leaks which may result in fire or explosion.
Although heating contractors do not routinely inspect venting systems as part of the checkup, consumers should ask the
contractor to examine the flue and chimney for possible problems. Blockages may be caused by mortar and other material
loosened from chimney walls, bird nests or debris. Chimneys and flues should be clear at all times so exhaust gases,
including carbon monoxide (CO), are properly vented outside the home. Flues and flue connectors should be checked for
tight, secure fitting, and for signs of rust or corrosion, which could allow exhaust gases to enter the house.
CPSC cautioned homeowners to beware of carbon monoxide fumes (CO) in the home. CO is colorless, odorless, and is
sometimes called "the silent killer."
People exposed to harmful levels of CO often show symptoms similar to flu-type
illnesses, including dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irregular breathing and nausea. In the most recent year for which
statistics are available, CPSC estimates that almost 60 deaths could be attributed to carbon monoxide gas emitted from
central heating equipment.
The federal agency also stressed the importance of chimney inspections where oil or solid fuel heating systems have
recently been converted to gas.
After the conversion, accumulated soot and debris on the chimney may loosen and fall.
If enough debris collects inside the chimney, it could block the chimney and cause a buildup of dangerous levels of
carbon monoxide in the home.
If the fall checkup of the heating system shows an accumulation of soot in the chimney, a
chimney sweep should be called to clean the chimney and flue; annual chimney inspections should be made until no more
soot is found.
CPSC said homeowners planing on converting to gas heat should have the chimney inspected when the conversion is made,
then annually thereafter.
Dangerous Product Reports to the US CPSC: To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at SaferProducts.gov.
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The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Or choose the The Home Reference eBook for PCs, Macs, Kindle, iPad, iPhone, or Android Smart Phones. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference eBook purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAEHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto, have provided us with (and we recommend) Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates' Technical Reference Guide to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
The Lost Art of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, 516-579-3046 FAX
Principles of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, technical editor of Fuel Oil and Oil Heat magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004 ($12.+1.25 postage/handling).
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)
Links to our list of additional information on heating system inspection, repair, maintenance