When it's flu season, it's flue season - the furnace flue that is. Gas and oil systems utilize a flue to exhaust their combusted gases out of the house. It's simple really - various tubes connect to provide a contained, directed flow of furnace exhaust outdoors.
When an older system is replaced in an older house, typically the entire flue system is replaced at the same time.
It's just smart to do that.
Let me do some what ifs...
What if the sales literature states that the HVAC system was completely replaced in August?
What if this is the first winter the furnace would be used?
What if this is the first winter the furnace flue is used?
What if the seller has been feeling ill all fall and winter?
What if the seller is home, because it's Saturday, and agrees to leave for the home inspection, but would really prefer to stay in bed?
What if, when questioned, the seller states that the illness experienced is not serious, just a persistent, low-grade headachy, jointachy, tired and achy feeling?
What if none of these things can be connected until the home inspector looks around?
What if the inspector found that not all of the flue tubing had been replaced, only the portion up to the attic?
What if the inspector found that all the furnace flue tubing, old and new, was NOT connected?
What if the inspector found that the soffit vents were blocked with insulation?
What if the inspector ALSO found that the ridge vent was very narrow (1/2-3/4" wide) AND covered with tar paper?
What if that disconnected flue had been venting into this poorly-vented attic space, obviously, since installation?
What if there was no carbon monoxide detector in the house?
What if the home inspector cannot smell, taste or see a problem but really, really suspects one?
AND WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? CARBON MONOXIDE IS THE PROBLEM! WOULD A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR HAVE EXPOSED THIS PROBLEM? LIKELY...
But you were already thinking that anyway, right? You got that about the third what if, right?
What if the inspector was to suggest to the selling agent to call the listing agent right away to have the seller call the installation company whose sticker is PROUDLY displayed on the furnace to come to rectify this right away since they weren't smart enough, professional enough or didn't have enough time to do it right the first time and had put this seller in danger for months now? Yes, that's a long sentence to make a point.
Would you think that home inspector to be out of line? Neither would this home inspector.
My recommendation: sometimes a problem can be arrived at logically, even when a problem is not suspected by anyone but the home inspector. So my recommendation would be to always make sure you get a home inspector for clients buying a house. Period.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560