Experts are asking people with new roofs to check their vents. Improper venting can lead to potentially deadly carbon-monoxide buildup and exposure.
After Hurricane Harvey pounded thousands of Coastal Bend homes in August, roofers have been overwhelmed with work. In addition to these busy local companies, roofers from surrounding cities have rushed in to work, and many have already left town.
“First off, you should only use a local and reputable roofing contractor that will be around long after the work is done. Sometimes when they remove the old roof flashings and start to install the new roof, they knock the vent pipe out of place. This can break the connections on the pipe or disconnect it from the furnace or water heater. Sometimes they even forget to install a new vent flashing and there is no place for the combustion fumes from the furnace or water heater to go but inside the attic,” said CCAC owner David Mathews.
That becomes a very dangerous issue for the homeowner. If their gas flue pipes are disconnected at any point, that can allow carbon monoxide to seep into the attic or home and build up.
“This is very unsafe and can cause potential for fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. I would not say that it is common, especially if you are dealing with a reputable roofing contractor, but I have seen many instances of the flashings not being reinstalled and the vent pipe being terminated in the attic. I have seen some that the roof was repaired several years before we were called out, and the plywood underside of the roof was scorched from the hot flue gasses hitting it. Not a safe situation at all, ” said Mathews.
Mathews says he’s come across these situations more times than not during routine service calls. That’s why he encourages people to always have their system checked after roofing work.
“Before the final payment on the roof, you should check to make sure the vents are all installed and connected properly and the entire job is done properly. Also, make sure you have the windstorm insurance information and inspections done to get the windstorm certification,” said Mathews.
From the ground, the pipes should appear straight and at the proper height. Plumbing vents should be checked as well because dangerous sewer gases can build up.
Anyone who is unsure or unable to see their pipes can ask a licensed AC and heating contractor to inspect it before cranking up the heater this winter.
“The best thing is to have your heater serviced at least once a year to make sure it is operating properly and to make sure all the safeties are working properly. If you have had any roof work done, mention that to the technician to make sure he checks the vent pipe. Another problem that can occur since we do not use our heaters much is birds can build nests in the vent pipe restricting it and causing problems also,” said Mathews.
HVAC specialists say you should always have carbon monoxide detectors in your home to alert you when levels get dangerously high. Although, they say, they have equipment that allows them to detect leaks before most home detectors give an alert.