Gas boiler problem - excessive heat, soot and yellow flame

Hi,
I have a problem with my ancient Ideal Concord W gas boiler (says WCF on the front). I'm pretty sure it is of the combi-boiler type.
It was working fine until recently I noticed the boiler itself is giving off excessive heat - it is scalding to the touch. Then I noticed that the wall above the boiler is quite sooty - not sure if this is new or not, but I didn't notice it before. The flame seems to be burning yellow, where I would expect clean blue, and it is lapping up in front of the internal guard between the heat exchange and the boiler cover. I think this is what is causing the heat coming off the boiler.
Is this something I can adjust myself or will I need to call in an engineer? The bad news is I don't have the service manual for the boiler, it came with my flat.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
-- Michael
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 19:47:47 +0000, Michael Pacey

There is something seriously wrong with this boiler.
Yellow flames like this suggest ventilation and/or flue problems and carbon monoxide is being produced.
These need to be checked as well as heat exchanger pathways and a proper CO test done as well.
Until that can be done, the appliance should be switched off to prevent you killing yourself with CO poisoning
--

.andy


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Just second that piece of advice..
SWITCH IT OFF NOW AND GET A COMPETENT ENGINEER TO HAVE A LOOK AT IT ASAP OR SOONER!!!
--
Tony Sayer


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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 20:07:41 +0000

Oops! It's been burning yellow for a few weeks now. I only noticed the soot a couple of days ago.
I've turned it off as you and Mr Gabriel have advised. I'll get someone in to look at it next week. Shame cos I only just fixed the radiator in my bedroom. Better look out my woolly jumpers!
Thanks!
-- Michael
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 19:47:47 +0000

On closer inspection I can narrow this down to Ideal Concord WCF 240A from 1982.
-- Michael
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First,
**** TURN THE BOILER OFF IMMEDIATELY **** DO NOT SWITCH IT BACK ON UNTIL IT'S FIXED
If it's sooting up the walls, it will be chucking out carbon monoxide too, i.e. it's trying to kill you. I presume from what you say it's not a room sealed type, or the room seal is broken, but I can't find it on Ideal's website so I don't know.

It will be in need of a serious cleaning out, as the heat exchanger will be blocked with soot. It also needs thoroughly checking to ensure the flames/fumes have not damaged anything which would not normally be exposed to them. The flue needs checking for draft and blockage, likewise the room ventilation.
This isn't really a task suitable for someone who's never serviced the boiler before. It might be different if you were just asking how to clean it whilst it was still working properly.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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Michael Pacey wrote:

Michael,
You have a choice of two courses of action 1, Turn off rthe boiler NOW ........... is it turned off yet? and call in a corgi engineer to service the boiler
As it is a CF model the chances are that you are already suffering from the effects of CO,. If any one dies from your faulty boiler you will be charged with Manslaughter,
HAVE YOU TURNED IT OFF YET.
second option to keep things simple call an undertaker now, IF IT IS NOT SWITCHED OFF you will not be around tomorrow to organise the undertaker.
THIS BOILER IS BEYOND ADJUSTMENT BY THE USER IT IS A DEATH TRAP.
I SAID TURN IT OFF NOW.
David.
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On 18 Feb 2006 12:24:05 -0800

It's off!!!
Thanks! -- Michael
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Michael Pacey wrote:

Michael,
You have a choice of two courses of action 1, Turn off rthe boiler NOW ........... is it turned off yet? and call in a corgi engineer to service the boiler
As it is a CF model the chances are that you are already suffering from the effects of CO,. If any one dies from your faulty boiler you will be charged with Manslaughter,
HAVE YOU TURNED IT OFF YET.
second option to keep things simple call an undertaker now, IF IT IS NOT SWITCHED OFF you will not be around tomorrow to organise the undertaker.
THIS BOILER IS BEYOND ADJUSTMENT BY THE USER IT IS A DEATH TRAP.
I SAID TURN IT OFF NOW.
David.
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Michael Pacey wrote:

Michael,
You have a choice of two courses of action 1, Turn off rthe boiler NOW ........... is it turned off yet? and call in a corgi engineer to service the boiler
As it is a CF model the chances are that you are already suffering from the effects of CO,. If any one dies from your faulty boiler you will be charged with Manslaughter,
HAVE YOU TURNED IT OFF YET.
second option to keep things simple call an undertaker now, IF IT IS NOT SWITCHED OFF you will not be around tomorrow to organise the undertaker.
THIS BOILER IS BEYOND ADJUSTMENT BY THE USER IT IS A DEATH TRAP.
I SAID TURN IT OFF NOW.
David.
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Michael Pacey wrote:

turn the boiler off.
call a gas service engineer in. there are things you could do to test and clean the boiler yourself but as you are asking questions in a newsgroup, it's obvious you're not a competent person and any attempt to 'have a go' yourself could lead to more problems like vomiting, brain damage or death.
further, if anyone gives you any advice contrary to what I've given they are irresponsible and so would you be to follow it.
be prepared for the boiler to be condemned. if it is, buy a new condensing boiler from B&Q and get someone in to fit it.
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The "CF" bit of its model (WCF) means it's of the "conventional flue" type - in other words it takes air from the room it's in, uses it for the combustion of gas, and the products of combustion then pass up the "chimney" to outside.
If there is something wrong, this means that products of combustion can also pass back into the room, unlike the other common type of boiler ("room sealed") where there is no connection between the room and the combustion chamber. The dangerous product of incomplete combustion is Carbon Monoxide - odourless, invisible, and rapidly lethal.
There is something horribly, dangerously wrong with your boiler: as others have said, it simply isn't getting enough air for the gas to burn fully, and this could be for three reasons: too much gas flowing (seriously faulty gas valve); a restriction of the inlet air; or a blockage of the flue preventing combustion products escaping, so the gas is trying to burn in an atmosphere with far too much CO2 and CO.
You really _must_ turn it off immediately, and I would also turn off the gas completely so that even the pilot light goes out.
Post again in the morning to reassure us all that you have, and that you've survived.
--
Kevin Poole
**Use current month and year to reply (e.g. snipped-for-privacy@mainbeam.co.uk)***
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 20:32:44 -0000
<snip>

Kevin,
I'm posting now as I've already turned the boiler off!
Your post made me realise something, I covered up a vent in the kitchen during a particularly cold spell a few weeks ago. I bet that's what's caused this! Do you think I'm right?
I feel like an idiot! Maybe that's the brain damage I've already sustained.
Cheers -- Michael
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Michael Pacey wrote:

it may be a contributing factor but it's impossible to diagnose from the other end of the internet. as pointed out before, your boiler is a conventional flue. if it was balanced flue or fanned flue you probably wouldn't have any major problems if you simply serviced it. as it is, you ought to call a gas engineer in 1st thing monday morning to ensure you're not living in a death trap.
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 20:54:29 GMT
<snip>

Exactly what I'm going to do!
Thank you and everyone else for your advice!
-- Michael
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 19:47:47 +0000, Michael Pacey wrote:

As others have already said this boiler is Dangerous. Any professional coming across it in its current state WILL condemn it. The fact that the casing is also getting hot almost certainly means that the flue and/or heat exchanger is blocked. Maybe the flue liner has collapsed ?
Just one point - this boiler was designed and installed long before combi boilers were around (in the UK at least). It comes from the Concorde era!
Frankly the cost of putting this right - and being really sure it's right - should probably go straight towards the new boiler.
Have a look at the BoilerChoice FAQ below.
- Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter. The FAQ for uk.diy is at http://www.diyfaq.org.uk Gas fitting FAQ http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/GasFitting.html Sealed CH FAQ http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/SealedCH.html Choosing a Boiler FAQ http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/BoilerChoice.html
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 21:52:24 +0000

Hi Ed,
I realised this was not a combi boiler about a third of the way through the FAQ (the bit that says combi boilers heat water "only when it is needed").
I'm a bit distressed that you think it will be condemned, I am currently "between jobs" and the idea of digging into my savings for the 1.5k or so that it would appear this is going to cost me does not appeal... I'll keep an open mind till I get someone to look at it!
Mind you, what is meant by "condemned"? I am reading this as "requires replacement", not as "requires repair".
Thanks.
-- Michael
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On Sat, 18 Feb 2006 22:15:23 +0000, Michael Pacey wrote:

It may well be possible to get it to work well enough again. Obviously it having already sooted up would make me and probably most other fitters look very very carefully at it. I'd really want to be 100% sure that the problem would not return in the next couple of years.
It is a simple unit being essentially no different from any of a dozen models of it's era.
Essentially all that's needed is a thorough clean out. Check the flue after a 5 minutes operation that it draws well enough to clear a smoke pellet and check that all the flue gases are going upwards when in operation.
However there is no margin for error on this job. The cause of why it sooted up must be found and corrected. This is a plausibly a matter of life and death.
--
Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
The FAQ for uk.diy is at http://www.diyfaq.org.uk
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On Sun, 19 Feb 2006 22:19:23 +0000

Thanks for your comments Ed, it's much appreciated.
I understand the seriousness of the matter, when I saw carbon monoxide in everyone's replies, the boiler was off and the windows were open immediately and it took me a couple of hours to get calm again...
I am going to engage an experienced heating fitter tomorrow who a friend has recommended. I am planning, pending re-employment or windfall, to carry out some alterations to my flat which would affect the room in which the boiler is situated, so I really don't want to have to replace boiler and possibly storage tank etc etc at this point, only to have to move it all and possibly upgrade it in the near future!
Fingers crossed a thorough clean does the job. Meanwhile I can testify to the efficacy of the Delonghi electric fan heaters on sale at Tesco for 7, although the spinning of the electricity meter is making me dizzy!
Thanks again -- Michael
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I'd hazard a guess based on other posts in this thread that when the OP covered the air vent the flue started to spill fumes and the combustion fell apart. Soot was produced which clogged the heat exchanger and possibly reduced the effectiveness of the flue still further. A really thorough clean of the heat exchanger and sweeping of the flue, together with a full service to the boiler may be all that is actually neccessary as the Concord series were very simple units and had little to actually go wrong with them (apart from not being efficient at converting money to heat). Renewal of the boiler may be "a good thing" but may not be actually essential
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