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Chimney Fundamentals

And Operation
The Art of Venting
Flue Gases
How Not To Kill Your
Presenter: Earl Hicks
 Review New York WAP policy regarding venting
 BPI Standards
 Review combustion process
 Define & understand combustion air
 How does a vent system work
 Identify venting categories and materials
 Using venting rules-of-thumb
 Inspection of existing flues
 Alternative venting methods
NYS WAP Policy

 Ensure safe
elimination of flue
gases from the
BPI Standards
Building Performance Institute

 Any combustion appliance

chimney/vent system that is
in use must be visually
evaluated for defects
 A deteriorated chimney
should be repaired or relined
and causes corrected before
Principles Of Combustion
 Three essential components for
 Fuel
 Oxygen

 Heat

 Fuel – Fossil fuels

 Oxygen – Air is 20.9% O2
 Heat – Pilot, spark, or igniter
Combustion Principles
The Chemical Reaction

 CH4 + 4O2 + heat = CO2 + 2H2O + heat

 Complete combustion
 Natural gas

 1 Cu Ft of CH4 + 10 Cu Ft of air for

complete combustion

 11 Cu Ft of flue gases
Combustion Air
 Must supply sufficient air for complete
combustion when all appliances are in
operation simultaneously.
 Must determine whether CAZ is a confined or
unconfined space per NFPA.
 Tightening a dwelling too much may result in
the need to bring in outside air for combustion
regardless of NFPA classification.
 Must follow established standards for
bringing in combustion air.
Confined / Unconfined
 Confined Space
 Not enough air in the combustion appliance
zone to provide for complete combustion
when all appliances are operating and the
building is set in worst case criteria.
 Unconfined Space
 Enough air is present to provide for
complete combustion when all combustion
appliances are operating and the house is
set for worst case criteria.
Standard 1/20 Rule
 Measure the volume of the CAZ.
 Add all input Btu ratings of appliance in the CAZ.
 If dryer is in CAZ
 Electric – consider input rate of 100,000
 Gas – consider input rate of 125,000
 Divide this total Btu by 20.
 The resulting number is the Cu. Ft. separating confined
from unconfined space.
 Volume of CAZ below result = confined space
 Volume of CAZ above result = unconfined space

 CAZ = 10’L X 14’W X 8’H

 Appliances
• Gas furnace – 75,000 Btu input
• Hot water heater – 40,000 Btu input
• Gas dryer - 125,000 Btu input
 CAZ = 10’L X 14’W X 8’H
 Volume = 1120 Cu’
 Total appliance input Btu
 240,000 Btu
 1/20
 240,000 ÷ 20 = 12,000 cu ft.
 Actual volume is below 12,000 cu ft
 CAZ is a confined space
 Results: Additional combustion air must be
brought into the CAZ
Other Than Standard:
 IMPORTANT! The above standard is
based on a known infiltration rate of
less than .4 air changes per hour
 When the ACH is known
 For appliances other than fan-assisted,
consult NFPA 54
 For fan-assisted appliances, consult NFPA
Fan Assisted
Methods of Bringing In
Combustion Air
 Within the dwelling, from other zones
 Ducted in horizontally from OD
 Directly from OD above and or below
What is Draft

 Negative pressure within a flue that

pulls products of combustion out from
the dwelling.
Factors That Affect
Draft Pressure
 Delta T, Indoors to Outdoors
 Height of Vent
 Interior Volume
 Restrictions
 Atmospheric Conditions
 Pressure Imbalances in the CAZ
How Does A Venting
System Work?
Air Flow

Combustion Gases
What is Considered
Adequate Draft?

 OD temp >800F, >-1 Pa or - .005”WC

 OD temp 300 – 800F, >-2.5 Pa or -.01”WC
 OD temp below 300F, >-5 Pa or -.02”WC

 (250 pascal = 1”W.C.)

Most Common Poor Draft
Factors Found in the Field
 Return air leaks in the basement
 Long horizontal vent connectors
 Blocked vents
 Deteriorated flue
 Bird nests
 Outside masonry flues with fan assisted heating
 Fireplaces with no outside combustion air and without
front enclosures.
 Overly tight houses
Venting Categories
 NFPA 54 and 58 criteria
 Standardized
 Category I
• Negative pressure, non-condensing
 Category II
• Negative Pressure, condensing
• No longer produced
 Category III
• Positive pressure, non-condensing
 Category IV
• Positive pressure, condensing
Category I

 What we normally
think of when we
think chimney
 Negative pressure
sucks products of
combustion from the
appliance breech and
deposits them
Category II

 No longer manufactured
 Negative pressure vent with combustion gases
at or below the dew point
 Heavy gases at the dew point are not buoyant
enough to vent with a negative pressure flue
Category III
 Direct sidewall vented without additional
 Positive pressure requires joints in flue material
to be sealed
 Because these 80% appliance flue gases are
close to the dew point, and the vent material is
single wall, corrosion resistant materials must
be used
 Drains are typically incorporated to remove flue
condensation before it enters the heat
Category III

 Has been used to solve installation

problems where no appropriate flue is
 Positive pressure requires joints in flue
material to be sealed
Category IV
 Positive pressure condensing
appliances, joints must be sealed
 90%+ AFUE
 Appliances are designed to dispose
of flue condensate as well as
condensate formed within the
secondary heat exchanger
 May be able to sidewall vent at
reduced distances to openings in the
building than NFPA suggests
 Sealed combustion
 Combustion air intake in same pressure
Category I Vent Materials
Found With Older Heating
 Single wall galvanized pipe, 26 gauge
 Only as a connector on 70% AFUE and lower
gas appliances and all oil appliances
 Connector for oil appliances
 Masonry
 Vitreous clay liner
 Oil appliances
 Transite
 Rated as single wall
 Asbestos
 Does not meet any venting requirements
Category I Vent Materials
 “B” Vent – double wall
 Galvanized steel outside, aluminum inner
 Rated only for gas appliances

 Used as a vent connector for all 78% and

80% AFUE appliances
 May not be run outside of the building

 Used as a liner in an existing flue chase

Category I Vent Materials
 Flexible liner cont.
 Aluminum – gas appliances
 Stainless Steel – gas and oil appliances
 Used to retrofit existing flue passages to meet code
or a specific application
 “L” Vent – double wall
 Inner and outer pipes are stainless steel
 Oil appliances
 All Fuel, double wall insulated
 Oil
 Solid Fuels
Category III Flue Materials
 Aluminum
 No longer recommended because of corrosion problems
 Stainless Steel
 Use type specified by manufacturers to reduce corrosion issues
 High temperature plastic
 Was the most common material specified by manufacturers
 Have been involved in recall
 Manufacturer specific installation protocol
• Sealed joints, High temperature sealant
• Hanger spacing
• Pitch back to appliance ¼” per Ft.
Category IV Flue Materials
 Low cost
 Sealed joints
 Must be provided with adequate
hanging support
 Pitch – back to appliance ¼” per
 Higher operating temperatures
than PVC
 Follow manufacturer
 Manufacturer specific
 Sealed Joints
Water In The Flue

 Water is a byproduct of combustion

 Key for category I appliances is to
maintain water in a gaseous state within
the flue so that it exits to the outdoors.
 Category IV appliances are engineered
to remove liquid water from within the
secondary heat exchanger and flue.
• 93#(lbs) ~ 10 gallons

• Million Btu = 100,000 Btu @

10 Hrs run time

• 10 Hr run time for natural

gas = 10 gallons of water
that must be removed from
the flue.
70% AFUE Gas Furnace
 21 Cu Ft flue gases for every 1 Cu Ft of
natural gas burned
 Draft diverter mixes the extra ~10 Cu Ft of air
with the flue gases before entering the flue
 Reduced efficiency means more heat going up
the chimney, hot flue gases (4500 – 6000F)
 Dilution gases reduce the relative humidity
and increases the dew point
Draft Hood Appliances
 1 Cu Ft CH4 + 10 Cu Ft air
+ 10 Cu Ft of dilution air
mixed at draft hood
 21 Cu Ft of flue gases up
chimney under maximized
 Draft hood
 aids in minimizing
fluctuation of draft
 Prevents backdraft from
affecting burner

Spill Switch
78% & 80% AFUE Furnace
Venting Overview
 Draft induced fan does not force flue gasses
into the vent.
 A category I flue of adequate design must be
 More heat in the building and less up the
chimney yields a colder chimney
 Cycle time is longer than older furnaces to
adequately warm the flue and keep moisture in
a gaseous state.
 If firing rate = 100,000 Btu/hr and SSE = 75%, then 75,000
Btu/hr go to the distribution system and 25,000 Btu/hr go
through the vent.

If the burner on-cycle is 12 minutes (.2 hrs), then during one

cycle the vent receives:
.2 hr x 25,000 Btu/hr = 5,000 Btu/cycle
A masonry chimney (block or brick + tile liner) requires about
4570 Btu/.ft. to go from 0o to 120o. So, on a very cold day,
about one foot of chimney will be warmed in one burner cycle:
5,000 Btu/cycle @4,570Btu/ft = 1 ft/cycle
A 6" B-vent chimney requires about 90 Btu/.ft. to go from 0o to
120o. So,
5,000 Btu/cycle @ 90Btu/ft = 55 ft/cycle
After Weatherization with a
New Furnace:
 If firing rate = 75,000 Btu/hr and SSE =82%, then 61,500 Btu/hr go to the
distribution system and 13,500 Btu/hr go through the vent.
 If the burner on-cycle is 6 minutes (.1hrs), then during one cycle the vent
 .1hr x 13,500 Btu/hr =1,350 Btu/cycle
 About four inches of the existing masonry chimney will be warmed during
one burner cycle:
 1,350 Btu/cycle @ 4,570Btu/ft = .3 ft/cycle
 During each burner on cycle, enough heat to warm 15feet of B vent goes
into the chimney:
 1,350 Btu/cycle @ 90Btu/ft = 15 ft/cycle
Draft Induced Category I Venting
 No exterior masonry chimneys without a
properly sized metal liner.
 Flex or “B”
 No interior masonry chimneys over 2 stories
 No transite chimneys
 No unlined masonry chimneys
 No masonry chimneys unless common vented
with a draft hood type appliance without a
vent damper
Draft Induced Category I
Venting Guidelines (cont.)
 Must have double wall “B” vent connector
 Furnace must be properly sized
 Furnace must be set up correctly
 Temperature rise
 Gas input
 Heat anticipator or cycle rate set @ 3 cycles per hour
 Vent sizing should be in accordance with tables
supplied with the furnace or NFPA
 When sidewall venting a power vent kit must be used
unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise.
New Category I Venting
 Use “B” vent as connector
from the appliance to the
 Reduce heat loss in the
 Pitch connector down toward
appliance ¼” per Ft.
 Warm air rises
 Maximum horizontal distance
(Table 13.2.2)
 1 ½ times the diameter of
the connector in feet
 4” connector = 6’ maximum
horizontal distance
Rule-Of-Thumb Continued
 Follow NFPA 54 sizing charts
 Never used unlined masonry flue
 Don’t use outside masonry flue
 Never use Transite
 If you take the heating appliance out of the
flue and leave the water heater in, you are
responsible to ensure the water heater will
vent properly
 Line the flue
Oil Appliance Venting

 NFPA 31 sizing guidelines

 Masonry
 Type “L”
 stainless steel
 All fuel
What We Should See In The Field

“L” Vent Masonry

“B” Vent
Barometric damper
(“swinging door”) in an
oil-fired warm air
furnace vent.

Drill test hole between

the breech and the
barometric damper
Why The Fuss About Venting
Fan Assisted Gas Appliances?
 11 Cu Ft flue gas for every 1 Cu
Ft natural gas (Vs. 21 Cu Ft for
70% AFUE)
 Lower flue gas temperatures,
 No dilution air (no draft hood) so
gases are close to the dew point
 Water must stay in gaseous state
to be removed from the building
Tools & Equipment Used for
Vent Inspection & Sizing
 NFPA manual  Tape measure
 54, Natural Gas  Flashlight
 58, LP Gas  Mirror
 31, Oil  Combustion Analyzer
 211, Solid Fuels  Pressure Probe
 Temperature Probe
 Boroscope
 Digital Cameral
Safety Inspection of the
Venting System
 Inside visual inspection
 General Safety Inspection
 Vent connections

 Internal flue inspection

 Outside visual inspection

 CAZ Test

Flue Safety
 Clearance to combustibles
 6” single wall pipe, gas
 9” single wall pipe, oil
1” Clearance?  1” “B” vent, gas
 Single wall connectors must
not pass through walls.
 Spill switches
 Flue blockage
Fire stop?
 Condition of flue materials
 Draft under worst case
Vent Connections


Inspecting An Existing Application

 Remove vent connector

 Inspect with mirror & light
 Is the vent straight or is there an offset
 Is there a liner present
 Are tiles cracked allowing flue gas to escape
 Blockage
 Examine termination from outside
 Cap
 Condition of flue
An appliance
that produces
soot is a cause
for concern.
Auditor should
call for clean
and service.
Evidence of backdrafting
Unsafe vent
Check the chimney for accumulated debris.
Oil-fired boiler before cleaning – plugged with soot after
several years without service.
Same boiler after cleaning

Must be
at Base
B-vent exposed to the
outdoors & not properly

 Does not meet code

 Sizing tables 13.6
through 13.10 are not to
be used for “B” vent
exposed to the outdoors
below the roofline.
Draft assisted
furnace, or only water
heater left in flue?

bleed through
CAZ Test
 Place building in winter mode
 Place all combustion appliances in pilot mode, or turn
 Energize all exhaust fans
 Measure pressure difference between CAZ in relation
to outdoors
 Open and close interior doors until the worst case draft
condition is reached
 Must have draft to continue
 OD temp >800F, >-1 Pa or - .005”WC
 OD temp 300 – 800F, >-2.5 Pa or -.01”WC
 OD temp below 300F, >-5 Pa or -.02”WC
Vent Dampers

 Used to reduce off

cycle losses
 Motorized
 End switch safety
 Thermal

Spill Switch
Thermal Vent Damper

Bimetal petals
warp open
when heated
Vent Terminations
 Follow
 Use NFPA
guidelines if
instructions are not
Category I Chimney termination:

 A chimney shall
extend at least 3 ft.
above the highest
point where it passes
through a roof of a
building and at least
2 ft. higher than any
portion of a building
within a horizontal
distance of 10 ft.
Sealed Combustion
Category IV
Concentric Vent Category IV
Alternative Venting
Look for conditions that
may affect health or
safety of the occupants,
the weatherization crew,
and YOU.
Dangerous vent, fire
hazards, CO, fuel leaks,
Complete a Health and
Safety Warning form if
Scary, home-made distribution system
REALLY scary homemade vent connector
Sizing Category I Vents
 Use the appropriate NFPA manual
 54 for Natural gas
 58 for LP
 for Oil
 211 for Solid fuels

 Find the appropriate chart

 One or more appliances?
 “B” Vent or masonry?
 “B” Connector or single wall?
Using NFPA Sizing Charts
 Height of flue
 From top of tallest appliance to the top of the flue
 Increasing the height increases the draw
 Horizontal distance to flue
 Used with single appliance application
 Increased horizontal run decreases draw
 Vertical connector height
 From the appliance breech to the point where flue gases
 Used with multiple appliances
 Elbows – Charts are listed with up to (2) 900 elbows in
the vent
Problem #1

 Single draft assisted appliance

 50,000 BTU input rate
 Total chimney height = 17’
 Lateral distance = 3’
 “B” vent and connector
Problem #2
 2 category I appliances
 50,000 BTU fan assisted furnace
• Connector rise = 2’
 30,000 BTU water heater
• Connector rise = 3’
 “B” vent with “B” connectors
 Chimney height = 18’
Flexible Flue Liner
 Follow manufacturer sizing
 Use NFPA sizing tables, but
reduce capacity by 20%
 The masonry or original flue
is used as a chase for the
 If a liner is installed, the
remaining space around the
liner can not be used to vent
other appliances.
 More than one liner may be
installed in the masonry
Other Liner Materials

 “B” vent may be

used as a liner
 Drop down an
inadequate or
improperly sized
 Original flue must
be straight.
 SS flexible liner
1. The height of a chimney is identified as:
2. If the chimney height falls between two
columns in the NFPA chart, do you round up
or down?
3. For a single category I appliance installation,
if the lateral distance falls between two
value on the chart, do you round up or down?
4. Can you use NFPA charts to size a flexible
chimney liner?
5. What is one advantage of using a flexible
liner over “B” vent?
Vent Free Heaters

 NYS WAP Policy

 Operational Requirements
 Oxygen Depletion Sensor
NYS WAP Policy

 WAP funds cannot be used to purchase or

install any type of unvented or ventless
combustion appliance including but not
limited to unvented kerosene space
heaters, unvented natural gas space
heaters, unvented propane space heaters,
unvented gas fireplaces, and unvented gas
fireplace logs.
IAQ / Health & Safety Tests

 Unvented Space Heaters: Educate the client

about the potential danger of CO and fire
from unvented space heaters. Explain that
significant amounts of combustion products
including water vapor and CO2 are produced.
Combustion Air

 Must supply combustion air while operating

 Open window while operating
 Tucson instructions require defining the space as confined /
 Products of combustion remain in the
conditioned space
 Must provide some measure of safety for
oxygen depletion
Fresh Air Requirements
Tucson Heater
Oxygen Depletion Sensor
If You Take Away Nothing Else


 Use “B”vent connectors on any new category I
gas appliance installation
 Most masonry chimney’s will need a liner
 Never leave a water heater in a flue alone
without ensuring it will vent