Can't imagine why the gas company is giving you five days to fix it,
*UNLESS* it's a CO problem.
A gas furnace (like a gas HW heater) has a draft break between the outlet of
the firebox and where the flue pipe takes the gasses into the chimney. If
there is a blockage in the chimney (squirrel nest, dead birds, broken liner)
that prevents the chimney from 'drawing', then some of the gasses coming out
of the furnace will leak into the basement area. And that's a dangerous
Did the gas company guy/gal put some probe in the flue or CO monitor and
say, "You've got a backdraft problem."?? That may just mean the chimney is
clogged with dead birds (they sometimes perch on the top of a chimney and
then pass out from the CO2 and fall in). On the other hand, if the
heat-exchanger 'bonnet' is cracked (force air units), it could be letting
combustion gasses through to the house air being circulated.
A well tuned gas burner on the furnace won't generate very much CO, but it
will still generate a lot of CO2. So a bad draw in the chimney that lets
gasses into the house can be *DEADLY*. Get a CO monitor before you go to
bed tonight (or turn the furnace off, but I know that ain't going to happen
in this weather).
As far as high-efficiency, that can cost a bit more than an 80% furnace.
But why go done that road when you're not even sure the furnace is where the
problem is. Look for a chimney sweep or HVAC contractor that works with gas
furnaces. A sweep can tell if the chimney's just clogged or if there is
some major repair needed. If the problem can be fixed by a $100 cleaning of
the chimney, you'd be way ahead. If the heat-exchanger is cracked, well
that's a different story and you pretty much need a new furnace.
For a poorly insulated house that uses a lot of gas to heat, the difference
between 80% and 95% can really add up. The only thing is high-efficiency
units typically need a horizontal vent pipe installed through the footer to
the outdoors. And a 'sump pump' or drain of some sort for the condensate.
The cost to buy and install one can be quite a bit more than a conventional
And if you have a gas hot-water heater, you probably still need a chimney
(although a narrower flue), so you can't just block that off. So if the
chimney has a broken liner or something bad, you may *still* have to repair
it for the hot-water heater (unless you want to replace that too). The
difference in price between a conventional and high-efficiency may be more
than the chimney repair.
It's not unusual to have the gas company red tag a furnace that has a
backdraft problem, as it's considered a serious safety issue and they
would rather be safe than sorry. One time the gas company replaced my
meter and then came in to relight the pilots. It was a very hot day
in summer and the water heater is in the basement. They checked the
WH for backdraft, and it failed. They red tagged it on the spot.
Then why are you surprised that the gas company gave him ONLY 5 days
to fix it?
Usually they check for backdraft by holding a match or other smoke
source near the diverter vent. If the smoke blowss away from the
vent, it fails.
That may just mean the chimney is
Yes, and that's why the gas company says it should be fixed now.
Get a CO monitor before you go to
That's a very good idea. I have a CO monitor in the bedroom and
another one in the basement.
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