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Combustion air narrative


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Heating: There’s a possibility that the volume of air in the garage maybe insufficient to guarantee safe operation of the furnace and water heater. By regulation the volume of the room should be at least 50 cubic feet of air per 1000 btu’s input rating of the furnace and water heater. By my observations there is less then half of the volume that should exist. If the furnace or water heater should not receive sufficient combustion air they will operate inefficiently and generate harmful products of combustion such as carbon monoxide which could be deadly under the right circumstances. Have a heating contractor make corrections to ensure an adequate combustion air source for the furnace and water heater in the garage right away.

Katenize me.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Heating: There’s a possibility that the volume of air in the garage maybe insufficient to guarantee safe operation of the furnace and water heater. By regulation the volume of the room should be at least 50 cubic feet of air per 1000 btu’s input rating of the furnace and water heater. By my observations there is less then half of the volume that should exist. If the furnace or water heater should not receive sufficient combustion air they will operate inefficiently and generate harmful products of combustion such as carbon monoxide which could be deadly under the right circumstances. Have a heating contractor make corrections to ensure an adequate combustion air source for the furnace and water heater in the garage right away.

Katenize me.

Chris, Oregon

The garage is too small to provide enough combustion air to the furnace and the water heater. Without enough air, they might produce carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas. Hire a heating contractor to figure out the best way to provide the furnace and water heater with an adequate supply of combustion air.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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May the Inspection Gods forgive me for questioning the likes of Lord Jim and Walter, but aren't those gas appliances definitely going to produce CO and poisonous gases, whether they're getting enough air or not?

Brian G.

Waiting For The Lightening Bolt to Smite Me [:-wiltel]

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Originally posted by Brian G.

May the Inspection Gods forgive me for questioning the likes of Lord Jim and Walter, but aren't those gas appliances definitely going to produce CO and poisonous gases, whether they're getting enough air or not?

Brian G.

Waiting For The Lightening Bolt to Smite Me [:-wiltel]

Not if they're properly adjusted. But I get your point. How about this:

The garage is too small to provide enough combustion air to the furnace and the water heater. Without enough air, they might spill carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, into the garage. Hire a heating contractor to figure out the best way to provide the furnace and water heater with an adequate supply of combustion air.

(Of course, if anyone every starts a car in the garage, the exhause pipe will fill the garage with vast amount of CO within seconds. )

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Brian G.

May the Inspection Gods forgive me for questioning the likes of Lord Jim and Walter, but aren't those gas appliances definitely going to produce CO and poisonous gases, whether they're getting enough air or not?

Brian G.

Waiting For The Lightening Bolt to Smite Me [:-wiltel]

Natural gas does not automatically produce CO. This only happens when there is a problem with combustion air, proper draft or both. It's only when natural gas burns incompletely that it becomes a problem.

From Natural Gas.Org:

When we say that methane is combustible, it means that it is possible to burn it. Chemically, this process consists of a reaction between methane and oxygen. When this reaction takes place, the result is carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and a great deal of energy. Chemists would write the following to represent the combustion of methane:

CH4[g] + 2 O2[g] -> CO2[g] + 2 H2O[l] + 891 kJ

Source: Duke Energy Gas Transmission Canada

That is, one molecule of methane (the [g] referred to above means it is gaseous form) combined with two oxygen atoms, react to form a carbon dioxide molecule, two water molecules (the [l] above means that the water molecules are in liquid form, although it is usually evaporated during the reaction to give off steam) and 891 kilajoules (kJ) of energy. Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel. Coal and oil, the other fossil fuels, are more chemically complicated than natural gas, and when combusted, they release a variety of potentially harmful chemicals into the air. Burning methane releases only carbon dioxide and water. Since natural gas is mostly methane, the combustion of natural gas releases fewer byproducts than other fossil fuels.id="maroon">

I have a pdf that talks about it as well, I'll see if I can scrape it up.

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OK, but let me play the other side of this......

I don't know about anywhere else, but explaining the issues & outcomes of unsatisfactory combustion air would take my clients over the brink; they would get about 8 words into the paragraph and glaze over.

It would be like someone asking you the time, so you start explaining how the watch works, how the hands turn around the stem, etc.

What is wrong with....

"The xxxxxxxxxx lacks satisfactory combustion air; without adequate combustion air, the furnace can malfunction, creating a dangerous life safety hazard. Provide combustion air vents in the xxxxxxxxxxxx."

I can imagine things that are wrong w/that comment, but what do other folks think is wrong?

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I often find around here brand new row house construction with single car garages having a gas water heater and furnace in the garage with no combustion air source to the exterior.

The builder or his agent have come back on occasion and said " but if we put a hole thru the side of the garage to the exterior that will make the garage cold in the winter and besides the building inspector has already finaled the house."

Also I find heating contractors often install new furnaces in old garages that are too small. Why is this? Is the 50cuft/1000Btu rule over kill? Is it just given that there's always enough infiltration into garages that this rule doesn't have to be followed.

Chris, Oregon

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Is it better to substantiate your finding with the "code" or rule, ala the 50 / 1000 cubic feet method or just say it like Jim and Kurt said it?

To take it to the extreme, one could just say: There isn't enough combustion enough air for the furnace. Fix it.

Maybe that's nearing the ole checkbox box report style, though.

I guess its a personal choice how much we choose to back up our finding with whatever applicable standard available.

Me, I use a mix of both, but getting more toward trimming down the amount of words altogether.

Like Kurt, I also think that people are just too busy and distracted to plow through a bunch of text--they just want to know what's wrong and don't care about why.

Even more, they don't really care about how to fix it they just want to know what it'll cost to fix it.

Maybe the new report vernacular would be: There isn't enough combustion air in the garage. It can be fixed for about $175-350.

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Walter, I'm glad you brought this question. I've had to write this quite a bit recently, and I've been struggling trying to improve it. I'm in the neighborhood of what Jim's saying. But Kurt makes a good point. If I keep writing more and more, just to make myself feel important, that doesn't help anybody, cuz no one will read it.

Clarity and brevity.

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Hi,

While I agree that clarity and brevity is what clients prefer, coming from a law enforcement background, I have a hard time separating myself from the need to assiduously document every detail of an issue, so that if I'm called on later on, even many years later, to recount conditions - what I found, what I did, and how I reported it during an inspection - I can do so easily just by reading my inspection report.

A couple of months ago, I ran an article on TIJ by Alan Carson about report writing. Carson wrote that he saw no point in noting the weather conditions on site during the inspection. Apparently, for all of his experience, Carson really doesn't understand one fundamental truth - that the report is as much an inspector's own technical record of everything that was seen, done and reported on during an inspection, as it is a report of the facts about the house provided to the client.

Your report can become evidence for you or against you during litigation later on. Leave out a simple detail of whether it was raining or dry at the time of the inspection, and how do you disprove someone's allegation that you missed an obvious roof leak if you don't know what the weather was at the time of inspection when you're testifying at trial. You only get one real shot at providing credible testimony. Sure, you can get back on the stand later and try and mitigate any damage the opposing party's lawyer does, but by then the jury or a judge has decided whether or not you're credible. It's best not to look like a boob because you can't recall the facts. A carefully-written report enhances your ability to recall what you saw, did and reported and enables you to be well prepared to answer questions.

For instance, if in the example cited here someone were suing you because you failed to call for increasing the amount of combustion air available to the furnace, the person reading the report would need to first understand why the combustion air was necessary, how much was necessary, and what mitigating factors compelled you to not write the issue up. If you were careful to document the circumstances well, you can show why you didn't make a wrong call, in spite of the code. If you haven't documented it well, how are you even going to recall it? That's why I despise checklist type reporting systems.

Conversely, you might end up testifying against a builder who failed to provide sufficient makeup air and claims it wasn't necessary. If the builder maintains that there were mitigating circumstances, and can document those circumstances and can get someone to back him up, you can end up looking like a ninny. However, if your report is detailed enough to ensure that you are able to vividly recall why those matters of mitigation are irrelevant and there definitely was a need for increased combustion air, you won't be caught flat footed getting red-faced because you can't remember enough about the house. In a job where attention to detail is important, not recording details properly is in my opinion short sighted.

You've got to understand how to strike a balance between writing enough for the client to "get" the issues while not tuning out, and documenting the facts of the house well enough so that there will never be any doubt in anyone's mind that you inspected and documented everything that you should have. That "anyone" can include a judge, an arbitrator, or even the irate client that calls you up ticked off that something isn't working properly. If you haven't got a good record to backup your findings and the decisions you've made, you might find yourself paying out for something only because you can't recall the facts well enough. Man, wouldn't that really suck?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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My perspective (such as it is):

I read every word of this thread up until the the previous post.

I didn't make it through that one.

Things have come to a pretty pass,

Our romance is growing flat,

For you like this and the other

While I go for this and that.

Goodness knows what the end will be;

Oh, I don't know where I'm at...

It looks as if we two will never be one,

Something must be done.

(refrain)

You say eether and I say eyether,

You say neether and I say nyther;

Eether, eyether, neether, nyther,

Let's call the whole thing off!

You like potato and I like potahto,

You like tomato and I like tomahto;

Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto!

Let's call the whole thing off!

But oh! If we call the whole thing off,

Then we must part.

And oh! If we ever part,

Then that might break my heart!

So, if you like pajamas and I like pajahmas,

I'll wear pajamas and give up pajahmas.

For we know we need each other,

So we better call the calling off off.

Let's call the whole thing off!

You say laughter and I say lawfter,

You say after and I say awfter;

Laughter, lawfter, after, awfter,

Let's call the whole thing off!

You like vanilla and I like vanella,

You, sa's'parilla and I sa's'parella;

Vanilla, vanella, Choc'late, strawb'ry!

Let's call the whole thing off!

But oh! If we call the whole thing off,

Then we must part.

And oh! If we ever part,

Then that might break my heart!

So, if you go for oysters and I go for ersters

I'll order oysters and cancel the ersters.

For we know we need each other,

So we better call the calling off off!

Let's call the whole thing off!

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For the sake of not boring the client is it OK to leave the source of your opinion out of the report and is it good enough to be sure to be able to provide it if called upon?

For example in this case Jim K. stripped out the 50/1000 rule out of my original narrative.

What has been the experience of you EW's regarding this?

Chris, Oregon

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Depends.

In the case of combustion air, there are so many reasons why it's necessary, and so many sources, I don't think it's necessary to provide a reference. The standards for combustion air are so well defined, and so widely accepted and acknowledged, how could one get stuck if they didn't go through the whole formula?

If someone wants to, fine, but it's not necessary. If it was an obscure item, such as a particular mfg's. specification, then one should provide a reference.

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

. . . The tiniest of quibbles: Could a plain-spoken HI find his ass in a crack if he doesn't go ahead tell the customer to get the HVAC guy to not only figure out the problem, but also fix it?

Have I spent too much time talking to lawyers?

WJ

I see your point. In that case, we could take out a few more words.

The garage is too small to provide enough combustion air to the furnace and the water heater. Without enough air, they might spill carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, into the garage. Hire a heating contractor to figure out the best way to provide the furnace and water heater with an adequate supply of combustion air.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

For the sake of not boring the client is it OK to leave the source of your opinion out of the report and is it good enough to be sure to be able to provide it if called upon?

For example in this case Jim K. stripped out the 50/1000 rule out of my original narrative.

What has been the experience of you EW's regarding this?

Chris, Oregon

The only time I include a source is when I expect a battle or when my recommendation runs contrary to popular folklore. Otherwise I see no reason to make my report any more boring than it already is.

Most people's eyes glaze over when they see mathmatics on a page. That's the opposite of what I want my readers to experience.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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