HVAC

Published on September 16th, 2018 | by Henri

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New heater brings burning smell, dust

Q.  Approximately 5 years ago I changed the forced air duct work and oil furnace to a natural gas Baxi Luna wall mounted combination boiler system and hot water radiators.

For the next several heating seasons I was aware of an odor, mostly at night, that seemed metallic to me. I wondered if there was a coating on the water pipes in the radiators that was “burning off”. I did nothing about this and I’m either used to it or it has gone away.

It took me awhile to notice this shadowing or soot on my wall above the radiator. It is more noticeable in some rooms than others depending on the wall color. It is difficult to scrub off.

Do you think this is from the pipes inside or is it simply dirt from the floor underneath?

I would not be surprised if my contractor cut some corners to save money. Thank you. I hope you can help as I need to repaint my walls and don’t want this to occur again.

A.    Baseboard heaters may emit a metallic, burning odor when first turned on in the season.
The burning odor emanates from the burning off of the factory coating applied on its parts. This may take more than one heating season to dissipate.

The burning odor is also due to the burning off of the dust that accumulates on the heaters’ fins during the idle season. This would be a yearly event.

When you had a warm air system, the warm air coming out of the registers was blown out into the room, but with the new hydronic heating system, the warm air rises vertically along the walls carrying dust particles lingering in the cold air drawn from the floor and passing through the hot fins.

This dust settles on outside walls just above the heaters. If there are draperies above the heaters, they may also get stained.

Unfortunately, this is a very common problem. Clear plastic deflectors to direct the warm air into the room instead of along the walls would be the answer, but, although there are many styles for warm air registers, I could not find any source for baseboards. If anyone knows differently, I’d appreciate the information.
Do not blame your contractor; he or she is not responsible for this natural phenomenon.

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