Combustion & Gas Safety Testing
Combustion and gas safety testing is an incredibly valuable and often overlooked part of your home energy audit. The goal of combustion and gas safety testing is to ensure all of your gas appliances are operating safely and efficiently. These appliances can include your furnace, water heater, boiler, kitchen stove, oven, and any other appliances that burn gas or propane to operate. Using pressure readings, gas detectors, and carbon monoxide monitors, out building analysts ensure that your gas appliances are safe to use. Each of these appliances are tested to ensure proper ventilation is allowing exhaust fumes, like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, to leave the building. Gas lines are also tested for leaks.
Orinda Indoor Air Quality Improvement
Julie’s family of five were experiencing uneven temperatures in their home and scheduled Advanced Home Energy for an energy audit to find out why. Over the years, multiple HVAC contractors had made a bad situation worse. Julie wrote an article about her experience in which she recounts:
(Advanced Home Energy) also found out that our furnace was leaking a large amount of carbon monoxide into our house. The furnace was right under our three young boys bedrooms. The scary part is that our middle son (now 4) has severe asthma. When we heard that we had carbon monoxide leaking into our crawl space, under our boys bedroom, we were horrified.”
Julie’s family opted to install a redesigned heating system with a new air filter, plus some air sealing to help isolate the crawlspace from the rest of the home. After their first winter with the new heating system, Julie wrote:
While my three boys (5.5, 4, and 2.5) had their share of illnesses last winter, it was our first winter without having to take our 4 year old to Children’s ER, having him admitted, as well as the first winter we haven’t had to call 911 and have him transported to Children’s. Who knows if there is a direct correlation of if age is causing his lungs to grow stronger. I’m sure it’s a combination of both. Sure, we still had to manage Jackson’s asthma this past winter, and sure we had some iffy moments, but at the end of the day, we reached a mile stone. One I’ll happily remember – our first winter without a visit to the ER or a stay in the hospital.”
Potential Combustion Safety Issues
Combustion and gas safety tests are important to identify any issues before they become major problems and safety risks for your family. For example, a furnace will continue to function with a cracked heat exchanger while leaking as much as 100 times more than the safe limit of carbon monoxide.
Combustion Safety & Health Hazards Include:
- Cracked heat exchangers generating excessive exhaust gases
- Inadequate ventilation or poor flue construction causing exhaust gases to backdraft
- Spotty or inconsistent burners failing to fully burn away gas fumes
- Uneven pressure zones pulling exhaust fumes from a safe area of the home into an unsafe one
- Gas leaks
Combustion & Gas Safety Standards
Building scientists call areas of your home where gas powered appliances reside Combustible Appliance Zones (CAZ). CAZ testing is required part of any Building Performance Institute home energy audit.
The Building Performance Institute recommends that any time there are changes in the building envelope or heating system of a building combustion and gas safety testing should be conducted prior to the work and after the work is completed. As a BPI Accredited Contractor Advanced Home Energy uses the BPI Building Analyst Technical Standards to guide our combustion and gas safety testing. This ensures we are testing your home to make it as safe as possible. As per California law, Advanced Home Energy also installs carbon monoxide detectors in homes we work on that do not currently have them.
More information on the combustion and gas safety testing we conduct can be found here on the California Building Performance Contractors Association website.