What Is a Combustion Analyzer?

A combustion analyzer is a portable tool that helps HVAC professionals, contractors, plumbers and engineers test the efficiency of electric heaters, boilers, kilns, furnaces and gas or propane appliances. It also assists technicians to troubleshoot and tune equipment for optimal performance. These types of combustion analysis instruments rate the concentrations of different gases, including oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide. They also measure stack temperature and draft. In some cases, a combustion analyzer will detect leakage, spillage or a cracked heat exchanger.

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A typical combustion analysis tool is small and easy to use. It contains a probe that reaches inside a flue to sample the combustion gasses. A micro-pump creates suction to draw the gas into the device, where the sensors are located. The probe and the sensor assembly are housed in a sealed, protective case to protect the sensors from moisture and prevent condensation.

Most combustion analyzers use either electrochemical or non-destructive infrared (NDIR) sensors to detect the levels of gasses. Electrochemical sensors convert chemical compounds in the flue gas into an electronic signal that is read by the on-board microprocessor. NDIR sensors rely on infrared light to absorbing gases. This absorption causes the detector to produce a current that is proportional to the amount of gas present.

A combustion analyzer will display the results on its monitor. Its display usually lists a range of information including: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, excess air, efficiency, pressure, draft pressure and nitrogen. The tool will indicate whether the readings are acceptable based on the manufacturer’s handbook and other relevant guidelines.

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