Recently our friend Benjamin Meredith, a local energy auditor and home inspector here in Harrisonburg, Virginia, called with that “you’re not going to believe what just happened” tone in his voice. He had just fired up a boiler in the course of an inspection on a small commercial building and his ambient carbon monoxide meter sounded an alarm. And not a “you should have this boiler serviced” kind of alarm, or even a “turn off the fuel and warn the owner” kind of alarm. But rather an “Aha, so this is the source of all CO” alarm. It read 2112 ppm. That’s outside the boiler. Ten ppm is dangerous, and 1600 ppm will kill you in an hour.
There’s some lessons here. First, stop telling the service technician to “just make it work for one more year.” By the looks of it, this boiler had seen about 50 years of such treatment. Perhaps even more importantly, we all need to guard ourselves from the “what-ifs” of combustion–occupant and professional alike. Thankfully, the building under inspection had been unoccupied for years.
But what really startled Benjamin was not the ppm reading. He’s a veteran inspector and has seen some high readings,though none quite that high. Most troubling was that he had just bought the CO meter from Ivy Tools the day before. He had given his old meter to a new employee a few days prior. And while Benjamin wouldn’t have performed the inspection without the CO meter, it still makes you stop and think. The meter may have saved his life on its very first job. Now that’s a short payback.
Thanks to Benjamin Meredith of Building Knowledge for providing photos and letting us share his story. He’s using an Extech CO10 to protect himself and his clients. See this and other CO meters at IvyTools.com