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Black soot is on the walls & ceiling around the baseboard heaters in the rental house that I live in. What is causing this & how do I clean this off?

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  • Rich Landrum May 18, 2011

    Randy, are these electric or heated water baseboard heaters?

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If these are electric base board heaters, that is probably not soot, but instead mold. Put a little bleach in a spray bottle and try spraying it right on to the black soot looking stuff and see if it will disappear. If it does, it is mold. Bleach will kill the mold.

If these are gas heaters you need to call a service man NOW. Black soot is a sign of gas burning raw and can be very dangerous. Turn them off if this is the case.

Posted on May 18, 2011

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I have one of the old fashion gas space heaters & it has smoked up my house! You can't see it coming from the heater, but there is soot all over walls & ceilings. What do I do, & is it dangerous?...


Yes, it is very dangerous. You are breathing carbon monoxide and it can be deadly. Turn off the unit and get it serviced immediately. Your heater probably has a blocked flue and will need to be cleaned or the burner has rusted away or is very dirty. Hire a professional to fix/clean the heater or just have it replaced it with a modern heater.

Mar 01, 2015 | Heating & Cooling

1 Answer

Our Rinnai gasheater is in 'n working condition but since we used it the white walls and ceilings are covered with black marks - I am worried that it could be dangerous - any advice?


Unfortunately, you failed to mention the Model Number and whether its a flue-less or Vented unit. In either case, the black streaks you see on the walls and ceilings is soot. If it's a flue-less unit, this is an indication that the unit has not received routine maintenance on a regular basis. The sooting is caused by a dirty or clogged burner or low gas pressure.

Also, burning scented candles and operating the heater at the same time, will cause soot. Not from the heater, but from the candles. All candles soot, but scented candles soot more than others. Combine them with the warm moist heat and they will soot 50 times worse. If this is the case, it's the candles sooting, not the heater. Stop burning the candles while the heater is in operation.

Is the soot dangerous? Yes, to the point that you are breathing it in, when it;s floating in the air. The sooting didn't occur over night, it has been doing it for sometime. You finally realized it, when you saw the black streaks. Stop using the heater until it is professionally serviced by and authorized Rinnai Service Technician and the walls and ceiling are cleaned.

You can either remove the soot yourself or have it professionally done. Then, you should prime paint the walls and ceiling with a sealer like Kilz, before repainting. All curtains or draperies should be washed or dry cleaned. All furniture and carpeting should be vacuumed thoroughly.

I hope this helped you and thanks for choosing FixYa.

Aug 10, 2011 | Heating & Cooling

1 Answer

Black soot every were how do i clean it and what with


Well, Boat Bob, you can clean the soot off by using a Shop Vac with a brush attachment on the hose. That will take off the biggest portion of it. Then you can clean the remainder of the outside with a damp cloth, but be sure to dry the cabinet afterward. Remove the screws the are holding the face of the of the cabinet on and proceed to clean all of the interior of the heater cabinet fire, with the Shop Vac , being sure to vacuum the burner(s) thoroughly, as well as the pilot assembly and all the mechanical 's. What soot isn't removed with shop vac, should be removed with a DRY cloth. Then use a can of compressed air with a straw nozzle (like you clean your computer with) to blow out the pilot and all around the pilot assembly.

For the remaining soot on walls, ceilings, furniture, etc. Gently vacuuming is the best way to remove the lion' share of the soot. Then, if necessary, the walls and ceiling can be washed with a diluted solution of Simple Green and water. Clean small areas at a time.

After that, you need to turn your attention, as to why the heater sooted? Several things come to mind ... No annual professional cleaning and service; Incomplete combustion; Vent pipe partially obstructed; Low gas pressure; Clogged burner(s), Obstructed air intake.

If you'd like further information, here is a link to your Owners Manual, which will help you to Troubleshoot the heater. http://www.empirecomfort.com/EMPIRECOMFORT/pdf2009/manuals/12433-10-0109DV.pdf

Hope this helped you to answer your questions.

Mar 24, 2011 | Empire DV-215 Direct Vent Natural Gas...

1 Answer

I have a black soot on all my walls through the whole house especially the exterior walls. I believe it is caused by my propane fireplace. Im not sure if it is not ventilating properly or what the problem...


Is a Vented or Vent-free gas fireplace? I really suspect it's Vent-free (ventless) as a vented unit, unless the direct vent is clogged exhaust everything, including 85% of the heat out side.

Here are the things that will cause a Vent-free Gas Fireplace to soot.

  • Not having the fireplace cleaned and serviced, at least annually by a qualified technician.
  • Misplaced logs that impinge the main burner flames.
  • Running a ceiling fan at the wrong speed and in the wrong direction while fireplace is burning.
  • Burning scented candles while burning the fireplace.
  • Low Gas Pressure to the burner.
Here are the solutions to the above listed causes:

  • Have the fireplace cleaned and serviced.
  • Check your Owners Manual concerning the proper placement of each log,
  • Run the ceiling fan Counter Clockwise and at the slowest speed. The fan on the side of the switch should be in the UP position for Winter and Down for Summer.
  • Scented candles soot any way. Add the warm moist heat of the Gas Fireplace and they'll soot 50 times worse. The scent is not natural, it has an alcohol base like after shave & cologne. Stop burning scented candles. It has been proven that they greatly contribute to indoor air pollution.
  • Low gas pressure causes incomplete combustion, which causes the burner to soot. Have it checked by your propane provider.
Based on my 15 years in the hearth and home business and having sold and installed hundreds of these appliances, I am will to bet, it's a cleaning and servicing issue or misplaced logs.

Hope this helps you solve your sooting problem. I woud really like to know how it works out for you.
Please let me know at americanhearthandhome1@yahoo.com

Thanks ... Rich

Feb 16, 2011 | Heating & Cooling

1 Answer

Heater releases a black soot type residue that is seen on ceiling,walls,etc...


Sounds like you are getting some soot from not enough air during combustion. Check for any clogged holes or blocked vent. You may be able to use some air in can that you blow off computer keyboards with to clean the heater.

Oct 25, 2010 | Vanguard International Blue Flame - Medium...

1 Answer

There is black soot on my walls and ceilings above my baseboard heaters. Is there a solution or a reason as to why this is happening? Is there a part that needs replacing? We are desperate for a solution....


In my experience soot in the house is (almost) always caused by the burning of candles. Get a CO detector if you don't already have one! You see the soot at the heaters because of the air flow they cause. There is nothing in a baseboard unit that could cause soot. Just water.

Mar 30, 2009 | Fahrenheat Electric Convector Baseboard...

3 Answers

There is a black "soot" coming from my radiant heater


Black soot appearing above and around electric baseboard heaters is caused by burnt hydrocarbons in the air.
The Heating element draws the cool room air from the bottom and over the element. Any excess hydrocarbons in the air become burned and are deposited on the surrounding surfaces from the warm heated air flowing up out of the heater.

The Heater is not the cause of these hydrocarbons. They come from the home / enviornment.

Some cause.
Smoking, burning Candles releases waxy hydrocarbons, carpet cleaning solutions, spray type air fresheners.

Black waxy sooty deposits are usually from burning candles.

Posted by George Patterson

Jan 13, 2009 | Fahrenheat FBE15002 Baseboard Heater

5 Answers

I have black soot on my walls from my baseboard heaters, is this hazardous or dangerous to my health?


same issue years ago. these heaters draw air in from the bottom and push it out the top. so any dirty air (candles burning will do it) is pulled through the heater and pushed out the top causing stains on walls.

Jan 01, 2009 | Fahrenheat Electric Convector Baseboard...

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