Recently we received a call to from a customer to fix a dangerous mistake a roofing company had made. As we enter storm season it can be a good reminder for anyone who may need their shingles replaced. Thankfully the customer was not harmed by the roofing company’s oversight, but they were very lucky to say the least.
As you may know gas burning appliances like a water heater and furnace must be vented to the outside of the home. The venting, if done properly, will ensure deadly carbon monoxide escapes the home to where it is not a hazard to those in the home. If you take a look at the pictures below you may figure out the issue right away.
There are two different problems you maybe able to figure after looking at these pictures. First of all, to ensure proper flow of carbon monoxide, a flue should never have a negative pitch. In the first photo you can see a very slight drop in the water heater flue. This could pose a problem if the drop is significant enough that the gases are back drafting or coming back into the home.
If you look closely at the second picture you can see that the flue goes up between the floor joist and there is hole in the floor for the flue to go up through the home. At this point the logical point of exit from the home is either a chimney that is built out on the side of the home or up through the roof.
Although the third photo doesn’t give you a full look above the home, believe us that there is not a chimney built out. There is also something else missing… The three penetrations you can see are two plumbing stacks and a exhaust fan likely coming from a bathroom. What you don’t see is a flue pipe. This is the mystery we were called to find an answer to and fix.
After a quick visit to the home our Bryant estimator was able to find the location of the flue, the issue and provide a plan to resolve the issue. This particular home is a story and a half layout. The roof line is steep enough that there is one room upstairs. Along the side of the room are knee wall attic spaces, sometimes used for storage. Knowing where the flue is located in the basement close to the foundation wall he knew there was a good chance the flue could be found in the knee wall space. Upon investigating the space here is what he found the flue that was disconnected and had been roofed over.
Being that the roof was re-shingled before the current homeowner purchased the home they had no idea of the danger they had be put in. The home inspection from when they purchased the home mentioned nothing about the flue not exiting the home. Either this is because the roof replacement was done after the inspection or it simply wasn’t caught.
What makes this more amazing is the homeowner’s bedroom was in the upper room, so they spent a significant amount of time in a potentially hazardous space. Thankfully, whether it was due to soffit vents or natural leakage of the home, the deadly possibility never happened.
Bryant extended the flue correctly extending the stack high above other vents and completing the job with the proper flue cap. During the process the drop in the flue near the water heater was also raised providing a constant rise in the exhaust.
Please learn from this event and make sure to check that your gas burning appliances are venting properly. Standard water heaters and 80% gas furnaces have a metal flue and commonly go out the roof. If your appliances are high efficiency they will have a PVC flue and may go out the side wall fo the home instead of going up through the roof.
If you question the safety of your homes appliances and the way they are exhausted contact Bryant Air Conditioning, Heating, Electrical and Plumbing. They have highly trained technicians that can review your system and ensure it is safe to operate.