Ng Co2 Burner Was Killing My Plants

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Hey all,

Just wanted to pass this along as information that will potentially save another grower a lot of time. I switched to a sealed room that gets vented a few times a day. As soon as I put together my shiny new completely dialed lab, where I could control everything, things went south quickly. And, I personally had two grows before I understood what the problem was. TLDR: Incomplete combustion (and probably some VPD issues) caused my plants to look like hell, generally display overfed symptoms, calmag issues, etc. My humidity was 65% and Temp 78-82, Feed ppm around 650-700 (NaCl conversion).

Whenever I put my plants from veg to flower, they would all of the sudden look like hell. Symptoms manifested as over feeding, under feeding, cal mag issues, sulfur issues, general burnt, and unhappy plants. I had a couple of grows go completely south and I tried everything from reducing feed, increasing feed, increasing/decreasing calmag, modifying ph ranges, increasing relative humidity, etc. As a matter of fact, I just had a harvest with some of the lowest yield probably ever. Even worse, some plants can totally handle it (Alien OG looked pissed but did fine, compared to my bubba76 x motorbreath cross that looked like it went through the meat grinder within days of being in the room. Though, all plants look pissed to some degree).

So, after some investigation, I examined my natural gas burner. The flames were blue BUT I noticed there was a black residue on both of the burners (I have a Sentinel 2 burner setup on a controller), which can't be good. I think potentially the sulfur they add to the NG might be causing sulfur dioxide to be created, which is why my plants looked like a sulfur deficiency/lockout. I am a bit unsure about the sulfur level, but what I am sure of is that the burner was causing these issues. Within 24 hours of adding the lowest ppm co2 possible on my controller (350) and with a 15 minute vent cycle every 45-70 minutes, there should have been nearly no change in plant health (given the constant venting, etc), yet, when I came back 24 hours later, all of the plants looked visibly pissed off, and starting to show the symptoms I mention above. Now, I'm not sure if I am getting dirty gas, potentially from the pipes, or what's going on... but black on the burner is absolutely indicative of a larger issue... and if not a sulfur issue, probably some carbon monoxide in there poisoning everything.

So, if you're a sealed room grower who's had trouble since you obtained a natural gas or liquid propane co2 burner, I hope I can save you some time. Check your burner for residue! Make sure you're burning clean because you're hurting the plants, and most importantly, yourself.
 
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I think it's either incomplete combustion from poor gas quality and also that weird residue buildup on the burners. I've made a few posts about this as well for propane burners. We have switched to bottled co2 a loonnnnnnggg time ago and the results have been fantastic.
Pretty sure my issue was incomplete combustion due to wind in my rooms preventing the burners from lighting properly
 
Having run co2 burners (propane and natural gas) in a number of rooms, I can feel your pain with this. We had nearly a year where a few of our rooms were growing incredibly bad, same things as you describe. Let's just say that it was a lesson that cost us tens of thousands. Eventually realized it was the co2 burner causing the problem, despite having the exact same model working fine in a few of our other rooms. I've now seen this in a number of people's rooms, and it is way more common than anyone would think.

There are two things going on usually:
1) VPD issues - High co2 sends a "close" signal to stomata, and when this is coupled with high VPD, the plants gets a 2x close stomata signal, and can't transpire or grow effectively.
2) A lot of these burners have leaky fittings - either where the hose attaches to the burner, where the regulator screws on to the tank, or even in the internal fittings of the unit. If there is any propane or gas that is leaking in to the room uncombusted, your plants will start to die. I have seen a number of rooms go from looking HORRIBLE to looking amazing within 48 hours, simply from tightening the fittings on these tanks.

So here's some fixes:
Make sure that every fitting is tightened and tested with soapy water, while the burner is on and running.
Also, if you're using propane tanks, be aware that the regulators that attach to the tank have a pressure release hole, and when you hook in a new tank that is fully pressurized, the regulator will bleed raw propane out through that hole. So put your tanks outside the room if possible. Also, only open the valve on the tank a 1/2 turn.

Hope this helps, good luck.
 
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and then there's the ethylene to worry about too...
THIS IS THE PROBLEM!Burners in small sealed rooms build up ethylene no matter natural gas or propane,its a by product of the combustion.You have a couple choices,get rid of the burner and switch to bottled or vent the room(not really sealed then).Tomatoes are indicator plants with ethylene,like a canary in a coalmine,put one in your room and if it goes downhill fast you know you have an ethylene issue.I hate burners now,when i ran my old 10k room it was dialed and then i put in a burner(2 Actually)and was fubared for over a year til i figured it out.
 
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THIS IS THE PROBLEM!Burners in small sealed rooms build up ethylene no matter natural gas or propane,its a by product of the combustion.You have a couple choices,get rid of the burner and switch to bottled or vent the room(not really sealed then).Tomatoes are indicator plants with ethylene,like a canary in a coalmine,put one in your room and if it goes downhill fast you know you have an ethylene issue.I hate burners now,when i ran my old 10k room it was dialed and then i put in a burner(2 Actually)and was fubared for over a year til i figured it out.
I guess I should feel lucky I figured it had to be environmental and had read about people having issues here on the farm awhile back, so I vented the room to finish the first run and shut the burners down at the beginning of the second run.
 
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If you can't completely take it apart and rebuild it properly you probably shouldn't be using a co2 burner - If you aren't comfortable working on your own furnace you shouldn't install your own co2 burner imo, they are def professional pieces of equipment more akin to a household appliance than just some grow gear. All the problems just described are user error and can be corrected 100%, I've used co2 burners for a few years now, four different locations. Currently running 10 individual co2 burners on natural gas without a single problem. I clean and leak test each unit between runs and am in the process of installing air quality controls and alarms in case of leaks, which honestly has never happened before.
 
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If you can't completely take it apart and rebuild it properly you probably shouldn't be using a co2 burner - If you aren't comfortable working on your own furnace you shouldn't install your own co2 burner imo, they are def professional pieces of equipment more akin to a household appliance than just some grow gear. All the problems just described are user error and can be corrected 100%, I've used co2 burners for a few years now, four different locations. Currently running 10 individual co2 burners on natural gas without a single problem. I clean and leak test each unit between runs and am in the process of installing air quality controls and alarms in case of leaks, which honestly has never happened before.
I have the green air ir 42 burners and I think my problem is too many fans. The burners fail to ignite at times and when they do light the wind will blow out flames on part of the burner. I have been on the phone with green airs tech guy numerous times and have had a pro mechanical guy check the gas pressure and volume. No leaks and plenty of gas to run the units
 
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No offense WS but im plenty capable of troubleshooting a cheap ass burner,this was a problem alot of the best growers on the farm were experiencing at the time.There were alot of threads documenting it all that im not sure made it through the changeover.The reason it kept happening to me was i refused to give up on the burner,i replaced it,rebuilt it etc etc.As you know theres not very much to them at all which leaves just one answer,the combustion process itself.
I actually went as far as arranging a tour through dole pineapples fruit ripening facility in riverside ca, with one of their quality control techs,they use etyhylene and other gases in their processes.Even though its cheaper to produce them through combustion they do not do it even going as far as using electric forklifts in ripening room instead of propane to avoid exhaust residues.Whenever you produce a gas through combustion you also produce myriad bad gases with it as part of the process,only way to deal with it is to vent in fresh air which negates the whole sealed room deal.
Just to be clear too there is nothing technical or fancy about a burner,its as simple as it gets,a hose and regulator,and some orifices sized for NG or propane.Its not really like a heater at all which vents all the gases from combustion outside because they will build up and kill you!A burner is more like multiple pilot lights burning inside a room with no vent(sounds healthy huh?),yes it produces co2 along with alot of other shit.
Im super glad if it works for you,it didnt for me and when i changed to bottled problem solved,just my 2 cents on the burner deal.
 
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No offense WS but im plenty capable of troubleshooting a cheap ass burner,this was a problem alot of the best growers on the farm were experiencing at the time.There were alot of threads documenting it all that im not sure made it through the changeover.The reason it kept happening to me was i refused to give up on the burner,i replaced it,rebuilt it etc etc.As you know theres not very much to them at all which leaves just one answer,the combustion process itself.
I actually went as far as arranging a tour through dole pineapples fruit ripening facility in riverside ca, with one of their quality control techs,they use etyhylene and other gases in their processes.Even though its cheaper to produce them through combustion they do not do it even going as far as using electric forklifts in ripening room instead of propane to avoid exhaust residues.Whenever you produce a gas through combustion you also produce myriad bad gases with it as part of the process,only way to deal with it is to vent in fresh air which negates the whole sealed room deal.
Just to be clear too there is nothing technical or fancy about a burner,its as simple as it gets,a hose and regulator,and some orifices sized for NG or propane.Its not really like a heater at all which vents all the gases from combustion outside because they will build up and kill you!A burner is more like multiple pilot lights burning inside a room with no vent(sounds healthy huh?),yes it produces co2 along with alot of other shit.
Im super glad if it works for you,it didnt for me and when i changed to bottled problem solved,just my 2 cents on the burner deal.
I read something u wrote about this awhile back and it makes perfect sense. What getsme is im not havin any of these issues. ...? Fwi my room isnt all that air tight. I wonder if thats the difference?
 
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No offense WS but im plenty capable of troubleshooting a cheap ass burner,this was a problem alot of the best growers on the farm were experiencing at the time.There were alot of threads documenting it all that im not sure made it through the changeover.The reason it kept happening to me was i refused to give up on the burner,i replaced it,rebuilt it etc etc.As you know theres not very much to them at all which leaves just one answer,the combustion process itself.
I actually went as far as arranging a tour through dole pineapples fruit ripening facility in riverside ca, with one of their quality control techs,they use etyhylene and other gases in their processes.Even though its cheaper to produce them through combustion they do not do it even going as far as using electric forklifts in ripening room instead of propane to avoid exhaust residues.Whenever you produce a gas through combustion you also produce myriad bad gases with it as part of the process,only way to deal with it is to vent in fresh air which negates the whole sealed room deal.
Just to be clear too there is nothing technical or fancy about a burner,its as simple as it gets,a hose and regulator,and some orifices sized for NG or propane.Its not really like a heater at all which vents all the gases from combustion outside because they will build up and kill you!A burner is more like multiple pilot lights burning inside a room with no vent(sounds healthy huh?),yes it produces co2 along with alot of other shit.
Im super glad if it works for you,it didnt for me and when i changed to bottled problem solved,just my 2 cents on the burner deal.
I have the new infrared burners which are basically like a Mr buddy heater with ceramic burners. Supposed to burn much cleaner than the older pilot light style burners.
 
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I have the new infrared burners which are basically like a Mr buddy heater with ceramic burners. Supposed to burn much cleaner than the older pilot light style burners.
Dont know much about them,saw some different burners awhile back but didnt pay much attention.I just use luxfer aluminum 50s now,they are light,last along time and 20 bucks for a refill at the welding supply shop.
I read something u wrote about this awhile back and it makes perfect sense. What getsme is im not havin any of these issues. ...? Fwi my room isnt all that air tight. I wonder if thats the difference?
Not sure bro,I know it seems Larger rooms and vented rooms are affected less so if your not truly sealed it could be that?Also some people dont seem to have issues(or know their having them)with burners at all .I only know what happened to me and a shitload of others and it sounds exactly like what phenotyper is experiencing now.When it happens it will make you pull your hair out because it manifests itself like it could be 100 different things,just upsetting to me to hear someone condescendingly say "user error",lol,How the hell is that supposed to help?.Burners are stupidly simple and when you remove it from the room and everything rights itself almost immediately you know its the problem.
 
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if the air circulation is affecting the fan, that would be considered grower error, as would incorrect exhaust. @fishwhistle everything you said is exactly what I mean...If you're running a burner in a sealed room that would be user error. I fully exhaust rooms every 3-4 hrs, doing that and re-filling with co2 from burners is def cheaper than bottled c02. This is all in larger-sized rooms and even a few warehouses that were just massive flower rooms, where running sealed environments is a horrible, horrible idea. Idk if i'd ever use a co2 burner in a home grow, without ventilation, or without air quality monitoring.


@mittenmedgrow I'd love to see those infrared burners, I would definitely agree with y'all that open-flame burners leave a lot of room for improvement.
 
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Having run co2 burners (propane and natural gas) in a number of rooms, I can feel your pain with this. We had nearly a year where a few of our rooms were growing incredibly bad, same things as you describe. Let's just say that it was a lesson that cost us tens of thousands. Eventually realized it was the co2 burner causing the problem, despite having the exact same model working fine in a few of our other rooms. I've now seen this in a number of people's rooms, and it is way more common than anyone would think.

There are two things going on usually:
1) VPD issues - High co2 sends a "close" signal to stomata, and when this is coupled with high VPD, the plants gets a 2x close stomata signal, and can't transpire or grow effectively.
2) A lot of these burners have leaky fittings - either where the hose attaches to the burner, where the regulator screws on to the tank, or even in the internal fittings of the unit. If there is any propane or gas that is leaking in to the room uncombusted, your plants will start to die. I have seen a number of rooms go from looking HORRIBLE to looking amazing within 48 hours, simply from tightening the fittings on these tanks.

So here's some fixes:
Make sure that every fitting is tightened and tested with soapy water, while the burner is on and running.
Also, if you're using propane tanks, be aware that the regulators that attach to the tank have a pressure release hole, and when you hook in a new tank that is fully pressurized, the regulator will bleed raw propane out through that hole. So put your tanks outside the room if possible. Also, only open the valve on the tank a 1/2 turn.

Hope this helps, good luck.
THIS IS THE PROBLEM!Burners in small sealed rooms build up ethylene no matter natural gas or propane,its a by product of the combustion.You have a couple choices,get rid of the burner and switch to bottled or vent the room(not really sealed then).Tomatoes are indicator plants with ethylene,like a canary in a coalmine,put one in your room and if it goes downhill fast you know you have an ethylene issue.I hate burners now,when i ran my old 10k room it was dialed and then i put in a burner(2 Actually)and was fubared for over a year til i figured it out.
Exact problem I dealt with in a very small room (6.9 x 9 ft). Propane burner. I would turn the burner off and they would pick up. Had to start venting the room which I didn't like so I yanked it out and went bottled which really didn't cost that must extra since it was fully sealed/spray foamed. Haha yep it was about 9 months for me. Poor crops.
 
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Yea proper way if you're running a burner is to fully exhaust the room during the night cycle. The gas that we get is not 100.00000% propane or natural gas. It varies in quality, which explains why some people get this problem and why this problem happens randomly.

Or use CO2. Ideal setup is to get a Dewar and those refillable hookups on the outside of your building.
 
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