Soot on Ceiling


OK, I thought this would be easy. There was some black soot near a ceiling register from an oil furnace. So, I got on a ladder with a damp sponge, thinking I could just wipe it off.
Well, it didnt quite work our that way. The ceiling is smooth painted sheetrock, and trying to wipe off the soot just spread it out and made it worse. I then tried cleaners like Fantastic, they didnt do much. So now I have an area with waves of grey in an otherwise white ceiling.
So, does anyone have any ideas of how to clean up this mess, short of repainting the ceiling?
Thanks for your help.
--
Larry Weil
Lake Wobegone, NH
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Larry Weil wrote:

My mom used to use a kneadable "eraser" to clean soot from ceilings when we had oil heaters (long, long ago). Don't know if such a thing exists nowadays, but PlayDoh always reminded me of the smell. Probably same thing. Can't believe Fantastic didn't take it off. Mineral spirits probably would work and is pretty safe on paint.
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On Fri, 14 May 2010 23:59:50 -0400, " snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net"

They are still around. I forget what they are called.

Someone told me to get emulsifier from a janitor supply store. I did, but it didn't seem to work at the suggested strength.
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" snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net" wrote:

No wonder PlayDoh reminded you of the soot cleaner:
http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/play-doh.htm
Here's an excerpt:
"It all started with wallpaper cleaner. According to the lore, a preschool teacher told her brother-in-law that the modeling clay in her classroom was too hard for children to use. In 1955, he sent her a sample of his company's wallpaper cleaner -- a doughy substance that people rolled up and down their walls to remove soot deposits. It was non-toxic and easy to mold, and it was an instant hit in the classroom. Within a year, the wallpaper cleaner became Play-Doh modeling compound. It officially hit the market in 1956."
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Erma1ina wrote:

I had a recipe for play dough ages ago - got it from kindergarten teacher and we went through a ton of it :o) Flour, salt, water, glycerine and ... baking soda? We always had some artsy or nature thing going on. PlaDoh and a $1 kiddy rolling pin were perfect party favors for birthday parties...some of the neighborhood kids were brats, but those kept em' busy so I didn't have to wring their necks :o)
Back in the day, our apartment had an ice box and oil space heaters. Spring cleaning meant dad disassembled the space heater and took it to the basement. Mom cleaned the ceilings, which were nearly black above the heater. About every other year, she washed the ceilings to remove the calcamine. Monday was wash day. Fels Naptha. I hate to admit it, but I think Saturday was bath night in the early days. Good grief!
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Cream of tartar.
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I'd use a good detergent to get rid f the oil, then a gallon of ceiling paint. You may want to put on some Kilz first to assure the oil does not bleed through. No matter what you do now, It is going to show in the spot cleaned.
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*There is a product out by Mr Clean called the "Magic Eraser". It is a chemically treated sponge. I carry one on my truck and have always had good results. Many grocery stores and Wal Mart sells them.
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John Grabowski wrote:

I didn't know the magic eraser had any chemicals to clean with. It does have a fine abrasive, and automotive polishing compound seems to do the same job, at about 1/100 of the price.
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*I had just assumed that the Magic Eraser had chemicals in it. It never occurred to me that it might just be a very fine abrasive. That would explain its effectiveness. Thanks.
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You are past an eraser, mix up some strong soap, even laundry soap and a sponge should help a alot, but to make it look real good its paint time.
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I'm afraid you are going to be painting. Even if you decide to paint, I would clean the area with TSP. It may take the soot off on its own with no need to paint. Make sure you get genuine TSP - should be able to find at the paint store. There are several artificial substitutes, so make sure it is really trisodium phosphate.
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Sorry but no magic cure...Get a spray can of Kilz and spray the effected area and re-paint the ceiling..Chances are it's flat paint and the more you mess with it the worse it will get....HTH...
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Yes, it is flat paint. Im thinking if I do have to paint it I should use the paint designed for bathrooms and kitchens, I would think it would be easier to clean should I have this problem again in the future.
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Larry Weil
Lake Wobegone, NH
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I think there is a bigger question here that no one is asking...
Why is there soot in your heating ducts from any kind of furnace ?
Do you have a leak in your exhaust flue in the furnace which is allowing the soot and therefore also the CO gas from the exhaust products into your heating ducts, the end result being soot stains next to the air registers ?
How old is your furnace, it sounds like it needs an inspection to determine if it is leaking flue gases into the house...
~~ Evan
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In article

Yes, this thought did occur to me. I had a problem a couple of months ago where the furnace was running to rich and had to be adjusted leaner. My furnace service guy tells me that its almost impossible to have a monoxide problem with oil, that it is usually from a gas furnace.
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Larry Weil
Lake Wobegone, NH
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Larry Weil wrote:

That shouldn't send any soot through the ducts.... but with any hot air systems after enough time there is normally a soot looking spot where the air blows on a wall or ceiling. Take apart most electronic equipment and where there is heat, there is a soot like spot.

I don't know what the difference would be, but with the few oil hot air furnaces I worked on, the blower fan is always before the heater. So when it's blowing there is a high pressure and it's more likely for cool air to get pushed into the firebox than for the sooty gas to come out. Usually it only comes out when it starts up and before the fan kicks on. So if it smells when the fan first comes on, I'd have a pro there to check it out.
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That still seems very out of whack to me... Even if your system was running rich and burning too much oil, it would mean you would have a CLOUD of exhaust/smoke going up and out of your flue/chimney which would consist of the soot particles and would leave a plume of what looks like a very fine black snow on the ground outside in the downwind direction...
I have seen that before when a newbie mistake at an institutional facility resulted in one of the oil fired boilers resulted in a rich mixture.. Boy was that ever an expensive cleanup to get that stuff off of the neighbors lawns and houses...
Anywhere you combustion taking place is a source of CO gas... Whether the combustion is fueled by natural gas, propane, oil, wood, coal, etc, CO gas is a component of the exhaust gases...
If you are seeing oil residues of ANY kind coming out of any of the heating vents INSIDE your home, then you need to have your furnace taken apart and inspected for leaks as none of the exhaust gases (which is where the soot is coming from) should ever be in the heating ducts...
~~ Evan
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