Help with 1960 GE Forced Air Gas Heater

My poor GE Heater's Avatar (by Gravatar) by My poor GE Heater in  Climate Control » Heating 

Dear Help Page:

We have a problem. We have a very old (but serviceable as its limited use only heated part of the house for over 52 years) General Electric Gas Fired Warm Air Furnace Model 21 LG. (BTU input 75,000 Bonnet capacity 60,000).

About April of this year we had a terrible wind storm (unnamed storm was as strong as a hurricane in spots). We lost electricity for a few days.

Upon reestablishing electricity the newer Furnace (high efficiency Amana with ceramic igniter) and gas fired water heater all came back on perfectly. But the little GE did not.

The Pilot light has been out since April and we have no one to ask what to do. I don't know what emergency valve or feature of this old model is keeping the pilot light's gas from just leaking into the air ...but I'm afraid to turn off the main gas valve as I don't know what I'm doing and if that will lead to a bigger problem or a re- lighting problem.

We have no one to ask since our over 40 year company (Father, then the son) that serviced everything A/C Heating Water Heater, etc. went into retirement in South Jersey so we have had no one since that time. We can't call the Public Service Gas people as someone told us that they are into a program to replace all old heaters, so if someone comes in and finds the pilot light off they will simply "red tag" the heater and not even offer any suggestions or would want to repair or do anything like our old service people did.

We are now in a vacuum as neighbors are calling the "24 hour emergency" places randomly as they have no one they would recommend to us as everything they do is expensive and/or poorly done......

That is the main question..... but while I have your attention and you know of our predicament.....we simply do not replace that older unit (necessary to keep pipes from freezing during the winter when thermometer dips toward 32 degrees and the main house furnace cannot keep pace with the lower level area in terms of heating it in the winter.

There is a code "BOCA" code that has been revised since the installation of that furnace that says that NO TWO high efficiency furnaces can be connected to "one" chimney. The Main unit was replaced in the 1980/90's and is a High Efficiency Amana Gas Hot Air Heater. The Flues for all three (two heaters and gas water heater are connected to the same chimney. It's ok as long as we keep the old heater, but the new heater would have to be a High efficiency one. It seems the high efficiency heaters put out a lot of water and the water damages the chimney (so we've been informed) and because of that the BOCA code .

The choice is simple...build a new (second) chimney . New homes in our area have three four or more separate chimneys now according to the code..... But there is no room in the existing shaft so the choice is to angle it up through a room to the outside wall (horrible metal round pipe is all that cheap prices get you not brick original chimney)

My questions are :

1. How do I properly turn off the small furnace safely so it is not using whatever emergency valve the blackout caused it to use, and yet be able to be safely re-lit later on by myself or a professional?

2. I've searched the web and without asking a current Building Inspector or the Public gas company itself, searching for where in the BOCA Code does it specify what everyone has told us about not being allowed to run a replacement for that furnace on the same old chimney that the other larger, high efficiency Unit has been running on and sharing for over 20 years?

And 3. So, with all the problems , what do we do with this existing problem of the extinguished pilot light in order to be safe and careful with this essential furnace. (Fortunately a light snow, warm winter meant it was not used this past winter, so we made it into air conditioning season.)

Thanks!

Know the answer or have a comment? Post it here!

Answer by homeowners

This is a long question, so let's break it down to some smaller, more manageable steps. I'm going to ask some questions in order to understand  the situation better.

Is the old GE furnace in the same mech room/space as the newer Amana and/or the gas water heater?  Does the old GE furnace have its own gas shutoff valve? Is it open now?

Would it be safe to assume that you do not smell gas anywhere around your gas fired units?

Have you actually tried to re-light the pilot on the GE furnace?

The situation that you've described so far appears to be pretty normal for when the pilot is out for any reason. The thermocouple-controlled valve shuts the gas supply and it will not open until you switch it into the "pilot" position. It will then supply the gas for the pilot light only, which lets you re-light it.
The pilot light was supposed to stay lit despite the power loss, it's hard to say what made it go out. Perhaps a particularly strong gust blew it off.  But until you switch the valve into the "pilot" and manually re-light it, the furnace will not come on and no gas will coming out. There would have been definitely enough of it for you to smell it.

There is no harm in shutting the gas supply off to the furnace. In fact, if you suspect any damage or malfunctioning parts, this would have been the most sensible thing to do right away. Do not worry about re-lighting the pilot light later, worry about preventing a gas leak right now.

Also: if your county or your utility company do offer a [free] public service to re-light the pilot, I would definitely take them up on that. They will not going to red tag it only because of the pilot light. If the furnace does indeed have a cracked heat exchanger, they would red tag it but you should be the person to want that most. Otherwise you will be the one killed by carbon monoxide, so tagging is not a danger to you, it's an important safety feature.

Anyhow, even if they will not be able to re-light the pilot, they will do at least two things for you:

#1 Alleviate your  fears about some valve continuing to leak gas
#2 Professionally suggest the best course of repair action.

As much as I hope you're getting a good service online here at HOH and perhaps elsewhere on the Internet by getting essential information, a pro standing in front of your furnace is 10 times better than a pro sitting in front of a computer in a different state. Noone can see, smell, hear or stick multimeter probes into your furnace over the Internet, and if you have a legitimate reason to have someone with experience to be there for free, be sure to use the opportunity.

Looking forward to the additional information from you.

Thank you for using Homeowners' Hub Questions and Answers!

 

Answer by

Thank you for your detailed analysis!Sorry for lateness of reply.....day just flew by! Working on it to catch all the questions.....see my answers inbetween your words:-----------

This is a long question, so let's break it down to some smaller, more manageable steps. I'm going to ask some questions in order to understand  the situation better.
Is the old GE furnace in the same mech room/space as the newer Amana and/or the gas water heater?
-------------------------Yes, one mechanical room quite large and roomy in finished basement for all three devices together plus the bottom of chimney and extra storage space for metal things like window screens, etc that would not interfere or cause hazards --we are always very careful though someone designed a laundry chute near the entrance to same room which does put dust in the air, therefore that is why I would have suspected a clogged gas valve on the "downdraft" designed GE heater.
  Does the old GE furnace have its own gas shutoff valve? 
------------------Yes, all three devices have large handled, clearly marked (for 1960's) handles that close each valve. When the Water Heater was added in (the guy who does that only knows about "hot water" heating not air heaters so was unable to help with our current problem when he was here) we turned off the valve just to the water heater so nothing else needed to be touched/or was touched.

----------------------------------
Is it open now?
-----------------Yes, valve is in the open position as from April

----------------------------------------

Would it be safe to assume that you do not smell gas anywhere around your gas fired units?
---------------------
No odor of gas anywhere in or out of room.
------------------------

Have you actually tried to re-light the pilot on the GE furnace?
-----------------------------No, not yet tried to light it as until you mentioned about the electric power being stored in the Thermocouple-controlled valve long enough to shut it acutally spoke volumes of information to me. I now know what closed the valve was normal operational procedure and not the pilot tube/or jet nozzle for the gas being "clogged"I have read your entire document and yes, I do agree having a professional in front of it is 10x 100x better and will work on it.....But I was afraid I was not doing/doing something bad until I get that person to come.Yes, the Public Gas company does offer free relighting service (we have them on a paid service anyway that we get free repairs for anything all year long ....contract that they sell here). So that is not the problem.

---------------------------
The situation that you've described so far appears to be pretty normal for when the pilot is out for any reason. The thermocouple-controlled valve shuts the gas supply and it will not open until you switch it into the "pilot" position. It will then supply the gas for the pilot light only, which lets you re-light it. The pilot light was supposed to stay lit despite the power loss, it's hard to say what made it go out. Perhaps a particularly strong gust blew it off.  But until you switch the valve into the "pilot" and manually re-light it, the furnace will not come on and no gas will coming out. There would have been definitely enough of it for you to smell it.
There is no harm in shutting the gas supply off to the furnace. In fact, if you suspect any damage or malfunctioning parts, this would have been the most sensible thing to do right away. Do not worry about re-lighting the pilot light later, worry about preventing a gas leak right now.
Also: if your county or your utility company do offer a [free] public service to re-light the pilot, I would definitely take them up on that. They will not going to red tag it only because of the pilot light. If the furnace does indeed have a cracked heat exchanger, they would red tag it but you should be the person to want that most. Otherwise you will be the one killed by carbon monoxide, so tagging is not a danger to you, it's an important safety feature.
-----------------------Definitely agree about the CO danger, we have detectors on all levels to monitor this.
----------------------
The concern was that about three years ago, one winter night the MAIN heater went out on us (defective sensor, cleaning does the trick, I do that, but it needed more than that so we got a new one for free as mentioned above), that person saw the second heater (middle of cold winter then!) and clicked his tongue and said that its a good thing I have my 80 yr old mother in the house else he would "red tag" that heater. So he said it has nothing to do with the age or the checking for the CO gas leaks (I told him we had it all checked a few years ago) but he was the one who mentioned it is in the new revised BOCA code for that year and slowly the Gas company is supposed to be tagging the ones that share chimneys with the newer Mid-High Efficiency Heaters like the Amana....so that is how that story was told to me and it was only due to the cold winter and 80 year old in house that he didn't stop it and close it off (red tag goes on the gas shut off valve he said so I could not open it again without cutting the tag!)

----------------------------------
Anyhow, even if they will not be able to re-light the pilot, they will do at least two things for you:
#1 Alleviate your  fears about some valve continuing to leak gas#2 Professionally suggest the best course of repair action.
As much as I hope you're getting a good service online here at HOH and perhaps elsewhere on the Internet by getting essential information, a pro standing in front of your furnace is 10 times better than a pro sitting in front of a computer in a different state. Noone can see, smell, hear or stick multimeter probes into your furnace over the Internet, and if you have a legitimate reason to have someone with experience to be there for free, be sure to use the opportunity.
Looking forward to the additional information from you.

---------------------------OK thanks for helping and hope this new information helps you (and anyone else reading) to get me the missing information I need to solve my predicament.
-----------------------------
Thank you for using Homeowners' Hub Questions and Answers!
 

Answer by homeowners

Thank you for the additional information. We now know that you were not living in immediate grave danger since April, and that's a great relief!

So, the way I see the situation is this: there seems to be nothing wrong with your old GE furnace. If we ignore the venting arrangement for a minute, you could just re-light the pilot and it will continue to operate as it has been. If the pilot does not light, it may be the time to change the thermocouple but it is a separate issue and we don't even know if there's an issue.

Now let's switch gears to the code compliance which appears to be the thing that concerns you most. It is true that NJ (and the rest of the nation) has adopted the 2009 version of the IFGC (International Fuel Gas Code) that in paragraph 503.3.3.4 stipulates that Vent connectors serving equipment vented by natural draft (your GE furnaceshall not be connected into any portion of mechanical draft systems operating under positive pressure. (the Amana can be one of them) . Here is a link to the full text of the code: http://www2.iccsafe.org/states...

And the question now becomes: when the Amana was installed, what work has been done on the chimney? Actually, I don't know much about the chimney: what type is it? Is it masonry? Was it lined for the Amana install? Was a separate stack installed for the Amana? Which exact model is the Amana furnace and has the manufacturer listed it as "non-positive" vent pressure? If it is "non-positive", then you're fine.

Also important: what manufacturer/model is the water heater? I don't think the water heater has a draft inducer, so the same shared chimney consideration would apply to the water heater as well. I imagine you might have lived without a second furnace if it is shut down for code violation but you would not want to lose the water heater, too. And so the chimney situation would have to be resolved anyway. But perhaps it already had been back when the Amana furnace was installed?

Anyway, as you can see there are still  plenty of question marks in my responses - a necessary part of helping to solve a problem over the Internet. See if you can fill in the missing info. Exact model numbers of all the equipment involved are always very helpful. Also, this system allows you to post pictures (the +Image button below the comment box). If you can snap and post several pictures of the vent connections and the chimney, it will be helpful for better understanding of the situation. 

You are correct, other people can see and respond to this question as well. When you post your pictures here, you're welcome to refer to them if you're looking for answers elsewhere on the Net, too.

Answer by

OK I saw all my photos "in line" as the message was written around them....then when I posted the collapsed the message into one giant paragraph without photos.

I did the +Image button....it said "Just a moment' and whole list of thumbnails eventually were along the bottom of the screen..
But when I posted, no images, 

Maybe a moderator has to approve of the images?  I'll wait and see  
before trying again.....

thanks!

Answer by

Thanks again for all the information and the location of the material (too bad the site won't let me print it but I will take a photo of it!)Thanks also for pointing out the "+Image" button will try it and see if you can see the results below.(PS to the +Image button--I entered some of them in wrong order and tried to edit and redo but made it worse so I stopped, Hope you can figure it out....there is no editing before posting button here so I don't know what you'll see until I post it!)Remember a picture is worth a 1000 words they say!Amana was installed c pre 1982 (heavy screens blocking the door with all information on it so oldest item was Honeywell Air Cleaner installed 1982, but it matches side of Amama Unit perfectly so was replacement for the older unit about when the Amana was installed.Amana is Air Command 90 Hi Efficiency Engergy Saver Model GHI 115A50 115000 Nat. Gas  input btu 92000 output btuGas Water Heater is Rheem Fury Model 27V50F1  50 gal.Photos show :GE Heating unit with gas shut off valve (thanks for the idea of taking photos, in the bright glare of the flash now I notice the pilot light tube also has its own shut off valve as seen in second photo.Whole unit:Next we have the two Heater unit vents going off to chimney.And here is the Water Heater vent from top of water heater.All three go into chimney together.No permit was needed for the new water heater as it was a replacement for one just 10 years old, so was allowed in under BOCA code, and the same people installed both, so they said and know its ok.Also Chimney up in attic (that is separate related problem, leaking into roof beam and again, no one here to call who is good).....been looking on the web for ratings and asking around for chimney people and all I get is horror stories except for one guy (most of the dozen I called NEVER EVEN CAME BY for an estimate or look see! Promised for weeks, and never showed up....don't they want a job?One guy said the "law" would only allow him to totally gut the lining (he showed me photos of the lining he took from above showing how it needed to be replaced (he said---first time I ever saw it)  I asked for copies of the photos and he promised to Email them....I called office three times, all I got was request back are you hiring us?  And no photos yet, so that is why I say and know we have a clay liner in reasonably good condition, but for about 4 feet down its leaking into the attic.  Roofer guy checked the flashing and its ok, so had to call Chimney people (oh right, didn't finish sentence back up there.....they want $5,000 just to cut off top of chimney and reline it and put it back up there again!  I never noticed before but we have tallest Chimney in whole area due to requirements for design and hill etc.

Answer by homeowners

 I find it's best to post images one-by-one. This way you can also add a description for each that will be easy to correlate with the photo. I post mostly diagrams here, and they are usually not larger than 800pix wide. Perhaps there's a limit on the size of the picture - I'll check with the website guys what's the limit if there is one.

Need some time to read you response. Would it be too much of a trouble to ask you to edit it and insert paragraph breaks? It's a bit hard to read it this way.

Cheers!

Answer by homeowners

I must have missed from your earlier post that your Amana is actually a 90% efficient furnace, I was under impression that it is an 80% which would have made the vent sharing OK. It is not the case though.

It is a condensing type gas furnace that cannot have a B, BW or L type vent or vent connector. The pictures of the furnace didn't make it through (yet) but I think B is the type you have.
This is straight from Amana service manual on 90% furnaces:

A condensing gas furnace achieves its high level of efficiency
by extracting almost all of the heat from the products of
combustion and cooling them to the point where condensa-
tion takes place. Because of the relatively low flue gas tem-
perature and water condensation requirements, PVC pipe is
used as venting material.
This furnace must not be connected to Type B, BW, or L
vent or vent connector, and must not be vented into any
portion of a factory built or masonry chimney except when
used as a pathway for PVC as described later in this sec-
tion. Never common vent this appliance with another appli-
ance
or use a vent which is used by a solid fuel appliance.
Do not use commercially available “no hub connectors”
other than those shipped with this product.

See the picture I attach below for the venting arrangements they do recommend.  One other possible venting design is to use an unused masonry chimney as a chase for a PVC vent for your 90% Amana and a separate B type vent for your old GE and the water heater. That will also eliminate your concerns about the lining of the chimney.

Answer by

Just trying to post photos again, so excuse me to anyone reading double messages here.....fixing up the other message so in case it does not post photos at least its readable for others!-----

Thanks again for all the information and the location of the material (too bad the site won't let me print it but I will take a photo of it!)-----Thanks also for pointing out the "+Image" button will try it and see if you can see the results below.----(PS to the +Image button--I entered some of them in wrong order and tried to edit and redo but made it worse so I stopped, Hope you can figure it out....there is no editing before posting button here so I don't know what you'll see until I post it!)-----Remember a picture is worth a 1000 words they say!-----Amana was installed c pre 1982 (heavy screens blocking the door with all information on it so oldest item was Honeywell Air Cleaner installed 1982, but it matches side of Amama Unit perfectly so was replacement for the older unit about when the Amana was installed.------Amana is Air Command 90 Hi Efficiency Engergy Saver Model GHI 115A50 115000 Nat. Gas  input btu 92000 output btu------Gas Water Heater is Rheem Fury Model 27V50F1  50 gal.-------Photos show :------GE Heating unit with gas shut off valve -------(thanks for the idea of taking photos, in the bright glare of the flash now I notice the pilot light tube also has its own shut off valve as seen in second photo.-------Whole unit:---------Next we have the two Heater unit vents going off to chimney.-----And here is the Water Heater vent from top of water heater.------All three go into chimney together.------No permit was needed for the new water heater as it was a replacement for one just 10 years old, so was allowed in under BOCA code, and the same people installed both, so they said and know its ok.-----Also Chimney up in attic (that is separate related problem, leaking into roof beam and again, no one here to call who is good).....been looking on the web for ratings and asking around for chimney people and all I get is horror stories except for one guy (most of the dozen I called NEVER EVEN CAME BY for an estimate or look see! Promised for weeks, and never showed up....don't they want a job?One guy said the "law" would only allow him to totally gut the lining (he showed me photos of the lining he took from above showing how it needed to be replaced (he said---first time I ever saw it)  I asked for copies of the photos and he promised to Email them....I called office three times, all I got was request back are you hiring us?  And no photos yet, so that is why I say and know we have a clay liner in reasonably good condition, but for about 4 feet down its leaking into the attic.  Roofer guy checked the flashing and its ok, so had to call Chimney people (oh right, didn't finish sentence back up there.....they want $5,000 just to cut off top of chimney and reline it and put it back up there again!  I never noticed before but we have tallest Chimney in whole area due to requirements for design and hill etc.-------

Answer by

Excuse me for just learning how to use a web based photo site ( I had it years ago just resurrected it so if you see plants that was for "another quesiton" I asked!)
Just trying again to post photos again, so excuse me to anyone reading double messages here.....fixing up the other message so in case it does not post photos at least its readable for others!-----

Thanks again for all the information and the location of the material (too bad the site won't let me print it but I will take a photo of it!)-----

Thanks also for pointing out the "+Image" button will try it and see if you can see the results below.----

(PS to the +Image button--I entered some of them in wrong order and tried to edit and redo but made it worse so I stopped, Hope you can figure it out....there is no editing before posting button here so I don't know what you'll see until I post it!)-----

Remember a picture is worth a 1000 words they say!-----

Amana was installed c pre 1982 (heavy screens blocking the door with all information on it so oldest item was Honeywell Air Cleaner installed 1982, but it matches side of Amama Unit perfectly so was replacement for the older unit about when the Amana was installed.------

Amana is Air Command 90 Hi Efficiency Engergy Saver Model GHI 115A50 115000 Nat. Gas  input btu 92000 output btu------

Gas Water Heater is Rheem Fury Model 27V50F1  50 gal.-------

Photos show :------

GE Heating unit with gas shut off valve -------

Photo A:    

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

 (thanks for the idea of taking photos, in the bright glare of the flash now I notice the pilot light tube also has its own shut off valve as seen in second photo.-------

Photo B
 

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

 

Whole unit:
---------

Photo C:
 
http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

Next we have the two Heater unit vents going off to chimney.-----

Photo D: 

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

 

And here is the Water Heater vent from top of water heater.------

Photo E:

 
http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...
 

All three go into chimney together.
------
Photo F
 

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

  

Photo G

 
http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

 

No permit was needed for the new water heater as it was a replacement for one just 10 years old, so was allowed in under BOCA code, and the same people installed both, so they said and know its ok.-----

Also Chimney up in attic (that is separate related problem, leaking into roof beam and again, no one here to call who is good).....been looking on the web for ratings and asking around for chimney people and all I get is horror stories except for one guy (most of the dozen I called NEVER EVEN CAME BY for an estimate or look see! Promised for weeks, and never showed up....don't they want a job?-------------------------------------
One potential contractor said the "law" would only allow him to totally gut the lining (he showed me photos of the lining he took from above showing how it needed to be replaced (he said---first time I ever saw it)  I asked for copies of the photos and he promised to Email them....I called his office three times, all I got was request back are you hiring us?  And no photos yet, so that is why I say and know and have seen that we have a clay liner in reasonably good condition, but for where it is  about 4 feet down its leaking into the attic.  Our regular Roofer/Gutter person checked the flashing and its ok, so had to call Chimney people (oh right, didn't finish sentence back up there.....they want $5,000 just to cut off top of chimney and reline it and put it back up there again!  I never noticed before but we have tallest Chimney in whole area due to requirements for roof  design and hill winds/draft etc.------------

Photo H:

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

Photo I:

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

Photo J:
 

http://i1140.photobucket.com/a...

==========

Answer by

Hi again.....just checked in 8 30 pm here July 25, 2012 to see how my photos looked on the website and found and read for the first time, your response from a week ago about editing the response and paragraph breaks!  Just lucky I was thinking the same thing and hope its better now.

But....wondering why my latest response is 'above" the responses from a week ago on "page 2" of the comments, yet the comments on page 1 go chronologically from my first and your first posting to the last one..
Maybe I'm not using Windows 7 or the site correctly so apologies to everyone if you don't get the flow of the conversation and responses correctly.  I'll see what I can do at this end, but confused as to why the responses are in chronological order on page one but not on page 2!

Thanks for reading all of this Home Owner and anyone else checking the site!

Answer by homeowners

Thanks for coming back!

You could change the sorting order in the little pulldown menu on the right. By default it's "Sort by newest first" - this is how comments are often sorted on websites so you can see what's new right away. There's a catch, however: most of the responses in this particular thread are replies to other comments and so they get shown in a hierarchical order, depending on who replied to whom. I don't believe you can change that.  If you did, all information about who said what and who responded to what would be lost.

I am curious if you read all my responses, especially the last one with a snippet from Amana manual - the document seems to have settled the question of common venting by saying "no".

If you can't see all responses on a single page, click on the blue-ish bar at the bottom that reads "Load more comments" and it will load 5 more comments for every time you click.

Answer by

Thank you too for replying and waiting for my responses.

Yes, I found the bar at the bottom that loads in the new messages.

Yes, I agree, the hierarchal system is confusing but better than losing the threads.  For those who can remember in computer history 101, HP started with something I thought was called "reverse polish notation" for its calculators, which seems that this is based on those reverse principles!

I appreciate your finding the Amana manual (I should have one too in that room) that shows it should not have been hooked up that way, but this was the way it was done.

I copied it here in case someone did not follow the thread logically so they can read it too:
This is straight from Amana service manual on 90% furnaces:A condensing gas furnace achieves its high level of efficiencyby extracting almost all of the heat from the products ofcombustion and cooling them to the point where condensa-tion takes place. Because of the relatively low flue gas tem-perature and water condensation requirements, PVC pipe isused as venting material.This furnace must not be connected to Type B, BW, or Lvent or vent connector, and must not be vented into anyportion of a factory built or masonry chimney except whenused as a pathway for PVC as described later in this sec-tion. Never common vent this appliance with another appli-
ance or use a vent which is used by a solid fuel appliance.Do not use commercially available “no hub connectors”other than those shipped with this product.One other thing, the small image size of your diagram I could not make larger.  I put it in a new window and all it is is tiny up in the upper left corner.  Using view and zoom in etc does not make it larger by much and just fuzzies the image.Thanks again for all the advice.

Answer by homeowners

 You can click on the image (the small icon under the post it was attached to) and then a new window opens up where the image is a bit larger but still not full size. In that window there's a link named "Original". When you click on that, another window opens up, this time containing the image in its full original size.

Also, regarding the hierarchical view: yes, it makes most senses and it would have been completely fine if it did not shrink the width of each consecutive post. After we've replied to each other a few times, the width available to the next reply has shrunk to be only just usable.
I think it will be better if we post a direct comment  next (as opposed to a reply).

So, how did you decide to handle the situation?

Answer by

This comment should expand the room for discussion again by commenting on the original posting.

We have decided to go with the local utility service.  Hopefully they will check and inspect that GE 1960  furnace and turn the pilot light back on without complaining about the hookup. Hopefully before the winter sets in.

Long term, we have to solve the chimney problem.   Connecting the original and now the new water heater in common with the high efficiency furnace I see now was a problem back when the furnace was installed but no one said anything until it was too late to have chosen a less efficient model.  (You do not want to know how many years of headaches and inspectors from the Amana company were visiting us as they determined finally that the early design of that particular model placed the circuit board (something brand new back in the early 1990's) too close to the heat from the gas jets.  They have redesigned the model (our old AC/Heating expert told us) based upon our early experience with it, placing the circuit board out side the unit in a small box where I expect it is how they still build them today.  As for us, we've had a steady stream of free replacement boards (i.e. for the life of the unit) and Amana people come into just replace the boards (but they are not authorized to do anything else and next time they do it I'll certainly ask them about the manual information you have shown me).  The replacements are regularly needed every 2-4 years as the heat slowly makes the boards malfunction.  I did not mention this difficulty with the Amana  unit (as we were informed after the fact that we were one of the first in the whole country to get one of these new high efficiency units) as of course my worry and main concern was always with the far older GE unit suddenly losing its pilot light!.  

Possibly our early edition of it did not express this warning as we had the father/son  team for over 40 years as our service people as they were excellent and did everyone in this area for several towns around us until they left.  I'm sure if it said that phrase in the manual they would have done it.  As I mentioned it it was only when we started using the local gas company for various things that they saw the hookup and commented on it two/three years ago during that severe winter.

I'm very pleased that you are able to fill in the missing information so we know where we stand with the three units venting to the same chimney.

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