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  #1  
Old 11-26-2013, 01:17 PM
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MotherCharlotte MotherCharlotte is offline
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Default Gas Furnace Emitting Smells

Our house has a high-efficiency gas furnace which is 12 years old. Lately I have been noticing that there is a propane-like smell coming from the exhaust outside. I can smell in the yard it if I go out to the barn when the furnace is running.

Sometimes we can smell a faint gassy smell in the basement too, when the furnace is on. Not like natural gas, but more like propane.

We have a carbon monoxide detector in the house and it always reads "0."

I called the local guy who services furnaces, and he tested the exhaust, said it contained way too much carbon monoxide, and that it must be a cracked heat exchanger. Without actually looking inside the furnace, he said he could either put in a new heat exchanger for $2000, or a brand new furnace for $3200.

Obviously we wanted another opinion. I called another guy in our area (the only other person I could find) and he seemed to think I was pretty stupid for not realizing that of course exhaust is going to smell, he didn't think there was a problem, but that he would come out and have a look for $80.

I've been looking this up online. I have seen all manner of opinions, from "it is completely normal for the exhaust to smell," to "probably the furnace needs a good cleaning," to "this is nothing to mess around with, call someone immediately."

Just wondering if anyone knew anything about this. I wish there were more companies out here that I could call that would do a free estimate.
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:41 PM
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Here is a thought......

If it were my situation..... If your propane tank is rented and property of your supplier I would call them and they should check for a leak from tank to the secondary regulator at least for free..... If not the whole system up to the gas valve on any gas appliance..... If you own the tank, there may be a charge.... But this will eliminate the possibility of a raw gas leak anywhere in the system up to the gas valve.....

Now the furnace..... If it hasn't been cleaned/adjusted in 12 years, it may be time.... Does it have a standing pilot... ?? Is it electronic ignition.. ?? Being high efficiency I presume it is a direct vent closed system, so has the combustion purge fan been cleaned, checked, working OK, and so on.....

Like an old car, a good tune up may be a good idea....

Good luck
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Old 11-26-2013, 06:13 PM
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MotherCharlotte MotherCharlotte is offline
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Thanks. We do not have propane, it is a natural gas furnace. I agree with you that a good tuneup sounds like a good idea. Especially since my husband has a workshop in the basement - there is always dust in the air. We do change the filter but I'm sure the furnace is still dirty inside. The person I would normally call for a tuneup (he does all the heating/cooling/plumbing in our area) is the one who said he was going to charge us $2k. I guess I should call the other guy even though I really didn't care for his tone when he talked to me (I know he was thinking, stupid woman).

I suppose situations like this are one con of living out in the country. There isn't much to choose from in the way of servicemen. The nearest city is half an hour away, farther than most guys are willing to drive for one call.
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:12 PM
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Tim Horton Male Tim Horton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotherCharlotte View Post
Thanks. We do not have propane, it is a natural gas furnace. I agree with you that a good tuneup sounds like a good idea. Especially since my husband has a workshop in the basement - there is always dust in the air. We do change the filter but I'm sure the furnace is still dirty inside. The person I would normally call for a tuneup (he does all the heating/cooling/plumbing in our area) is the one who said he was going to charge us $2k. I guess I should call the other guy even though I really didn't care for his tone when he talked to me (I know he was thinking, stupid woman).

I suppose situations like this are one con of living out in the country. There isn't much to choose from in the way of servicemen. The nearest city is half an hour away, farther than most guys are willing to drive for one call.
========
Better be a damn long laundry list of things done to equal a $2k service call... Sounds like a detailed estimate is in order there..... And maybe your system does need those things done....
---
If there is an "attitude" problem (stupid woman) with that other guy.... That would make the decision to NOT use this service person a no brain er..
---
I wouldn't give a damn how far off it is to the next good service provider, I would use them just to let the 2 local ones know I'm damn well in charge of my check book no matter how they have had things in the area for how ever long...... KnowwhatImean.....
---
Only difference between natural gas and propane is that a propane leak will settle on the basement floor.... A natural gas leak will settle against the basement ceiling....

Keep safe....
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Old 12-03-2013, 04:58 PM
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Will the utility company come out and check for leaks if you tell them you smell gas?
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  #6  
Old 12-04-2013, 09:29 PM
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Well my husband did a lot of research, talked to some people, and he came to the conclusion that the first guy was right and we do need a new furnace.

As he is our neighbour, he's giving us a pretty good deal. I'll just be happy to be rid of the smells our current furnace is emitting. As soon as you step out the back door you can smell the exhaust. Not good.

Simplegirl, thank you. It's the furnace itself that is emitting the smells, because when I turn it off the smell goes away fairly quickly. And it's not the smell of natural gas exactly, more like a general fumey smell. Hard to explain.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:02 AM
offtheradar Male offtheradar is offline
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A simple way to test for leaks in the gas line is to apply some dish washing liquid on the fittings and line. If you see any bubbles this is a leak. If your system is only 12 years old it is not that old in my opinion. The gas company that supplies the gas for one of my rental properties will come for free to test the lines and fittings (it's their gas until I burn it) and they have a list of repair people they approve of.
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  #8  
Old 12-29-2013, 10:51 PM
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Exclamation Furnace smell

I've been in the HVAC trade for over 30 yrs, and one thing I've learned about high efficiency gas furnaces is that there is a secondary heat exchanger, or condensor. This is located in the air stream behind/downstream of the blower wheel.
It's purpose is to extract the remaining heat from the flue gasses.
A product of this is a highly acidic condensate water (H2SO4), which collects in a teed drip leg on the PVC flue and runs through a tube to a condensate pump; then pumped outside or to a drain.
This condensor is built the same as an A/C coil, i.e. finned tubing. If lint, hair, etc. has blocked it, no condensate removal will occur, and it will be exhausted through the flue pipe (2" PVC). That is most likely your odor.
It is difficult to get to this coil to clean it. The blower has to be unbolted, wiring harness unplugged, and slid out (pulled) from the blower compartment. It rides on tracks.
Then you may be able to see the coil which can be vacuumed clean or blown out with compressed air.
If it is still not accessible then panels will have to be pulled; one side or the other and maybe the back.
In any event, this would have to be done before condemning the unit because of a bad heat exchanger or secondary heat exchanger.
Sounds like these guys didn't feel like working too hard that day...
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Old 02-07-2016, 03:35 PM
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I guess that must have been the correct diagnosis. No response and it was from 2 yrs. ago. Now where do I send the bill?
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:55 PM
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Gosh, I hope something terrible didn't happen...
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