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Old 04.01.2012, 11:34
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Carbon monoxide in cellar?

First of all, before people start to worry with that thread title - everyone in the house is absolutely fine!

We had new windows fitted in our house a few months back in the summer, obviously they are a lot more insulated than the old shitty ones so drafts and heat escaping are pretty much eliminated now. We also had the window in the cellar (the room that has the boiler, washing machine and dryer I mean) replaced - seemed silly not to as we were having the rest done.

Now, we noticed a funny smell in the cellar, which I suspected was something rotting or something off someone's shoe, but having not discovered the source of the odor and also noticing our radiators weren't working properly we called a heating engineer. His diagnosis is that after having our windows done there is not enough air getting into the heating room to fire up the boiler properly - it's working, but it's having to suck air out of the flue/back from the system in order to keep going.

He also said we have a build up of carbon monoxide in the cellar .

Eventually we will have the boiler replaced (as it's 30 years old anyway and we already knew it doesn't meet the new emissions guidelines - we have 10 years in which to replace it though) but this is not practical in the winter anyway - and we're skint having just paid what seems like billions of francs for new windows. Anyway, the guy said this is basically OK if we keep the window open.

So, this all sounds quite feasible.... but.... the sceptic in me says - how can eliminating a tiny draft make a difference that big? Surely the drafty window was only letting in a teeny tiny bit of air??

The pessimist in me says the window to the cellar goes out into our garden and whilst there's a grill over the top, it's removable, so basically if we leave the window open all the time then we could easily get burgled. What if the heating guy is atually mates with a burglar?

So I'm wondering if we really have to leave the window open all the time or just ventilating when we are in the house (and awake) is sufficient.

Also in terms of our safety, there is an insulated door between our living quarters and the cellar room (mainly because the boiler is noisy) which we keep closed pretty much all the time - am I naiive to think that should there be a build up of CO in the cellar then our living quarters will still be OK if the door is closed?

I have just ordered a CO detector so obviously we will check the levels everywhere ourselves when that arrives tomorrow, but if anyone has advice or similar situation, be interested to hear about it. The window's open now since I'm at home.....
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Old 04.01.2012, 12:35
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

For Pete's sake please open the boiler room window! You can lock the internal door. Carbon monoxide is poisonous, odourless, and will kill you! The heating engineer told you what is happening, and now you are disregarding his advice.

In Jumbo, or any other hardware store, you can buy steel hooks which hold the metal grill down and stop burglars. These hooks need to be bolted to the walls. It isn't an easy job, and you might need to hire a powerful electric drill.

Another possibility is to drill a few one centimetre wide holes from the boiler room to the outside, allowing permanent ventilation. Maybe you need to ask a local builder to do this?
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Old 04.01.2012, 12:39
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

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Another possibility is to drill a few one centimetre wide holes from the boiler room to the outside, allowing permanent ventilation. Maybe you need to ask a local builder to do this?
I agree that there should be some sort of permanent ventilation. Don't mess around with carbon monoxide! If you have a good real hardware store near you ask them about vents, you should be able to install something neat and tidy and too small for burglars (unless they are smaller than a cat).
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Old 04.01.2012, 12:48
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

Your new windows should have 'trickle' vents built into them (usually a small opening near the top), if they haven't then they don't conform to the new norms. These allow a certain amount of air to circulate into the house from the outside, needed because of our habit of blocking off all possible sources of draughts when boilers, gas stoves, etc. need an air intake. I'm a martyr to draughts myself but have been told by hubby to put up with a bit of fresh air as he enjoying living.
Perhaps you could get an air-brick put into the outer wall of the cellar if you're really worried about leaving the window open?

In the meantime, listen to the heating engineer and leave the window open; as Sbrinz says.... that stuff is deadly.
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Old 04.01.2012, 12:51
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

and buy a carbon monoxide alarm ASAP! they are the same size etc as smoke alarms

really, don't screw around with carbon monoxide, as others have said is totally odourless etc so thats not what you have been smelling!

check here to see if you have had any of the symptoms
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_monoxide_poisoning
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Old 04.01.2012, 13:18
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

Oh for goodness sake stop with all the scare mongering please - the carbon monoxide in our cellar is not at a level that is going to kill anybody - really - not - the guy said that. I already know all about carbon monoxide thanks.

Everyone in the house is fine - with not even mild cold like symptoms which are the first indicators of chronic low level poisoning. We are not being poisoned neither acutely or chronically. The windows have been fitted for 4 months.

I am not disregarding the guys advice, I just wanted to know whether anyone has any similar issues in their cellars and whether it's necessary to ventilate permanently or only e.g. only when the boiler is on (obviously it's generally not on when we are out during the day).

The smell is of course not CO as it doesn't smell - as I said it's the boiler sucking air back from the radiators/flue.
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Old 04.01.2012, 13:25
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

Pardon us for being concerned.
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Old 04.01.2012, 13:55
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

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O... I just wanted to know whether anyone has any similar issues in their cellars and whether it's necessary to ventilate permanently or only e.g. only when the boiler is on (obviously it's generally not on when we are out during the day)...
Yes, we had a new boiler of a different type, and we had to take the glass out of a (very small) window in the cellar to have sufficient ventilation. Had a similar situation in the UK, which was daft as the house was draughty anyway...

Relying on remembering to open the window is unsafe.
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Old 04.01.2012, 13:59
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

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Relying on remembering to open the window is unsafe.
And probably against any building regulations....

To the OP: Why are you so upset? You state you have a bad situation,

- how can eliminating a tiny draft make a difference that big? Surely the drafty window was only letting in a teeny tiny bit of air??

which suggests you know nothing about fires and air pressures, and now complain when you get some answers. Next time please don't ask.
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Old 04.01.2012, 14:09
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

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To the OP: Why are you so upset? You state you have a bad situation, and now complain when you get some answers. Next time please don't ask.
I think Watts is a chick. So stop gaslighting!!
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Old 04.01.2012, 14:33
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

Cannot the HVAC guy to the rescue .What yo need is a permanent opening ,duct or pipe 4 in D,from the outside to your boiler down to about 6 from the floor .No damper in the duct and no back draft damper on the out side
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Old 04.01.2012, 14:40
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

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Oh for goodness sake stop with all the scare mongering please - the carbon monoxide in our cellar is not at a level that is going to kill anybody - really - not - the guy said that. I already know all about carbon monoxide thanks.

Everyone in the house is fine - with not even mild cold like symptoms which are the first indicators of chronic low level poisoning. We are not being poisoned neither acutely or chronically. The windows have been fitted for 4 months.

I am not disregarding the guys advice, I just wanted to know whether anyone has any similar issues in their cellars and whether it's necessary to ventilate permanently or only e.g. only when the boiler is on (obviously it's generally not on when we are out during the day).

The smell is of course not CO as it doesn't smell - as I said it's the boiler sucking air back from the radiators/flue.
You are wrong it can kill you and enyone ells in the building ,if I would have ben the heating guy I would have shot down the Boiler, till the situation is rectified and
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Old 04.01.2012, 15:58
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

Okay okay, thank you for the replies (really), I'm just having a bad day for a number of reasons (kids driving me nuts for one thing). Apologies for sounding like an ungrateful tosser .

The CO level the guy registered in the cellar - when he arrived and before we had opened any windows (so, whatever had been building up in there for the last 3 weeks) was 5ppm, which is nowhere near enough for there to be any effects - and OK, so I'm relying on wikipedia here but it says you need around 35ppm exposure for 8 hours solid to feel even mild headaches. So really, whilst I'm not happy there is CO in our cellar at all I'm also not that worried about it. Probably the level has been like that since we moved in 6 years ago - I don't know - nobody else ever checked it.

So, no idea why I didn't think of it before but I can also leave the door to the other cellar room (our nuclear bunker) open - there is just a grill on the window there (no glass). At the end of the day we have to replace the boiler. Was just hoping not to have to face that expense this year (especially since DH might be made redundant in a couple of months).

OK, I'll stop now, I'll let you know what the CO monitor says when it arrives (should be tomorrow) if you're interested.

Sorry
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Old 04.01.2012, 16:36
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

Ok. I'm glad to read your last message! I was getting concerned.

Actually, you don't know how long it took to build up that amount of carbon monoxide. It likely took a while, but what if it took only a day? I'm glad you are getting the monitor/alarm and thought of a way to keep the room ventilated constantly.

Carbon monoxide is no joke/nothing to take lightly. I hope this reminds others to check their boiler rooms are well ventilated.

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Old 05.01.2012, 21:06
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

So... I said I'd report back after my own CO monitoring.... the detector arrived this morning so I set it up and (just because I'm a bit of a psycho and everyone was out today anyway) I closed up the window in the cellar and left it all day.

So after 8 hours of running the boiler in an enclosed space, the CO monitor is registering.....

...... drum roll.......

zero

I tested it - and it definitely works, batteries are good etc.

Then I read all the instructions about where to mount the thing to get an accurate reading etc. and it's located just fine - OK I haven't drilled it to the wall but it says it should be fine free standing also.

So, I think this is what you could call a false alarm (or not, since the alarm is most definitely not going off!)

Nevertheless, I have to say I feel a lot safer having the thing in the house and it was only a few bucks off Amazon. So, if anything I'd recommend if you have an oil burning heater in your house, just get one, it's worth the peace of mind if nothing else.

[Oh, and I did open the window again, just in case ]
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Old 05.01.2012, 23:42
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/mah...inaiqu_002.cfm
some thing to read about
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Old 06.01.2012, 11:20
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

The boiler room must be ventilated. No question about that, so don't even bother measuring CO levels.
In the longer term some kind of permanent solution should be envisaged, but in the short term, keep the window open - you can find cheap solutions to block the opening of the window in most DIY shops.
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Old 06.01.2012, 15:42
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Re: Carbon monoxide in cellar?

One of my student digs had the boiler in the bathroom. One day, a guy from the gas board (as it was then) came around with a CO measuring thingy for a check-up. Next thing there was a huge red sticker on the boiler, prohibiting its use. CO levels produced by the faulty boiler were so high that according to gas board guy only the very very draughty windows saved us from CO poisoning. (My precaution since then: remember to shower before gas board guy comes to check the boiler, not afterwards at a mate's).
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