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Finding the Source of Black Soot in a House

Category Miscellaneous
Soot could come from a furnace or from a fireplace and chimney. This is a guide about finding the source of black soot in a house.
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By 1 found this helpful
November 4, 2015

We suddenly found black soot like powder on the floor, walls, baseboards, and furniture about 3 weeks ago when dusting. We attributed it to the furnace though we have no vents since we have in floor radiant heat, or the fireplace, which had just been cleaned. We also then had the furnace cleaned. About a week later, we noticed a slight musty smell which has since intensified. The smell is in the same area of the house but strangely also upstairs on the opposite side of the house in a bedroom. Airing out the house helped, but the smell immediately intensifies when the windows are closed.

Initially, we did not associate the two, thinking the smell may be from a dead mouse in the wall. We are still searching. During the search, we have found the soot again even though we have not used the fireplace. The black powder is on the baseboard and the windowsill of the half round windows above the lower casement windows. The lower sills do not have the powder. What can this be? Are the two issues related or do we have two separate problems? We would appreciate any insight or information about similar experiences. Also, I would gladly call a professional, but I don't know who to call.

Answers

November 5, 20150 found this helpful

This is a puzzle. Soot must come from somewhere where there is combustion. If you have in floor heating, (water pipes in the floor, right?) you must have a boiler. Does your boiler run on natural gas? Perhaps there is some problem with that, although how soot would get all over the house is beyond me. I have a natural gas boiler for hot water heat (radiators) and I had to have the burner replaced, because it was producing a sooty mess, but only inside the furnace.

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However, I would call someone about the furnace first. I would suspect that if your boiler burns some other fuel, it would be even more likely to produce the soot. If that is not the problem, could the soot have gotten all over when the fireplace was cleaned?

I would not worry about the smell until after I had the furnace dealt with. They may be the same problem. If not, I think that you might be on the right track with the mouse search.

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November 6, 20150 found this helpful

Could what you think is soot really be mold? That would give your house a musty smell.

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