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 didn¹t 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 didn¹t 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.
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.
No wonder PlayDoh reminded you of the soot cleaner:
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."
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!
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
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
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
Yes, it is flat paint. I¹m 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.
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...
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 it¹s almost impossible to have a
monoxide problem with oil, that it is usually from a gas furnace.
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.
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...
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