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Jim Katen

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Jim Katen last won the day on October 13

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  1. You really shouldn't clean a flame sensor with anything rougher than an emery cloth or a scotch brite pad. How short are the short cycles?
  2. Do you keep propane bottles in the house? (For camping lanterns, stoves, etc) Does your garage open into your house? (Vehicle exhaust) Gas welding equipment? Bottles of wood finish? Oil lamps? Maybe those stinky room freshener things that you plug into the wall?
  3. I agree that the air shutter should be opened a bit. The roll out at ignition is happening because the air in the vent is cold and it takes a few seconds to establish draft.
  4. Those apostrophes can be expensive. Somehow, this brings Calvin Trillin to mind. The Nation used to pay him a flat rate of $100 per poem, so he wrote the shortest possible poems in order to make the most money per word.
  5. Yes. We called them barrel-style heat exchangers for obvious reasons. It's very primitive, surprisingly efficient (or inefficient, depending on your point of view), and very long lasting. Subsequent designs incorporated narrow shapes and were intentionally deformed in various ways to improve the transfer of heat, but those deformations always ended up being the sites where failures began. In this heat exchanger, the most likely point of failure will be the welded joint where the exhaust cylinder meets the main cylinder. *Never* re-connect that humidifier. Doing so would destroy the furnace. I'm surprised to see the humidifier tube set to drip directly on the heat exchanger - most of these that I've seen have a little tray that sits above the heat exchanger. Perhaps this one once had such a tray. No matter. Don't use the humidifier. Get your "old timer" heating/plumbing guy back to adjust it. With a furnace like this, the adjustments are not about efficiency. And, yes, 180 degrees at the registers is way too hot. Discard the idea of "maximum efficiency" with this beast. It'd be like tuning up my 1949 8N tractor for maximum MPG. With both of these critters, you tune it by sound & feel. The gas flame should, indeed, be blue, but understand that whenever your furnace is running, rust flakes are falling into the flame and burning yellow or orange. The plate on the end of the burner looks fine to me.
  6. What the heck happened? It looks like something struck the stem wall. Did a piece of machinery back into it or something? The rough pile of concrete turds around the footing suggests that the entire front section was somehow loosened and someone tried to "glue" it back in place with a wheelbarrow full of concrete. I'd ask the super what happened. If he says that he doesn't know, he's either lying or incompetent. As for the future, as long as the base under the broken section is well compacted, this shouldn't cause future problems. You might have the builder patch the crack with mortar just so that any future movement will be revealed.
  7. You've got a great old furnace there and, despite what you think, it's probably as efficient today as it was when it was new - 80% combustion efficiency and 65% at the registers. Change the filter regularly, but don't mess with it otherwise. If you want to improve efficiency of the system, encapsulate the asbestos duct tape and install much better duct insulation. The code only requires R-8, but you can easily double that. If you were to replace this furnace with a modern 96% efficient one, your monthly heating costs would go down, but I doubt that the overall savings would ever make up for the cost of the furnace.
  8. But that's exactly what all the other guys that you're describing *think* they're doing. We all do.
  9. If it's not producing any heat, then it's unlikely to have one heating element that's out. Either all of them are out or the sequencer or a relay are bad. These machines are very simple. Any heating contractor can fix it. What state & city are you in?
  10. We used to call them snow dogs in New England, too. It doesn't look steep enough to be an issue, but I'd probably devise some kind of extra-high snow dog to mount on the roof just in front of the panels.
  11. If you've ever tried to lift one, you'll know why they stashed it there instead of carrying it up the stairs. I used to have one just like it out in my east field, for watering horses. The grass grew up all around it, I forgot where it was, and ran over it with my tractor. If anyone wants to know how to bust up one of these things, all you need is some chloride-filled tires on a 1949 8N tractor . . .
  12. I often see moisture problems under laminate. If drywall has 80%-100% moisture content, you can put your finger through it. Is this an exterior wall? If so, I'd map out where the high moisture readings are and then look outside to see where the rain is getting in. Water won't rise up from the ground to cause this. Anyone with a good sense of smell. I've done "smell" work before. I have about a 50% success rate. Water doesn't do that. Capillary action can pull it up a short distance, but the moisture levels will always be greater at the bottom. If there are high moisture readings high on the wall, the water is coming from above. (Unless something else is fooling your meters.) You don't need to cut a large hole in a wall to confirm or exclude a moisture problem. A 1/4" hole will do the trick and can be easily patched.
  13. We can't solve your problem remotely, but here are a few things to try: Close all the interior doors in the house for at least 24 hours. Then go outside for at least an hour or two to "zero-out" your nose. Return to the house and carefully sniff the air in each room to see if you can narrow down the source of the smell. Go up to each bathroom sink and get your nose as close as you can to the overflow channel opening, then take a good sniff. If you get a strong smell from there, let us know. Pull up the corners of the carpets to look for mold and smell the underside of the carpets carefully. Don't run that ozone machine while people are in the house.
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