What I'm Seeing Now

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The Disaster AFTER The Repair

It would be difficult to explain what this configuration looked like when I first saw it.  There were a multiplicity of problems, all identified on my original inspection report, and the seller agreed to many repairs.  This is what we saw when we returned to what is apparently thought to be the Bestway* to do it.

The list of what was wrong to begin with was enormous. These repairs are as you see them.

The water heater exhaust hood is still disconnected where it exits the unit.

The previously single-walled furnace vent is now a new double-walled vent, but still angled downward.

It exits the wall on the left, but we can't see if it is still touching the wood framing.  But it is still horizontal inside that chase above the water heater, coming from 15' to the left.  It hooks downward at a dramatic angle to turn again as it extends to the chimney.

It no longer loosely enters the chimney (on the right) as it is attractively glued with polyfoam.  We see polyfoam in so many places used in so many ways!  It is as ubiquitous as duct tape!

It is time for thermal images!

The furnace is on the ground in the crawl space to the left of the first image above.  The vent goes up and inside the chase, after it makes many turns.  It is a single-walled vent inside that chase!  It touches wood framing, drywall and the AC line seen in the photograph above.  That AC line follows that furnace vent along the entirety of the 15' chase.  It can't be in a good condition.  The middle image above is similar to the photograph at the top.  The hottest spot, as demonstrated by the white color, is just to the left of the left tube connecting to the top of the water heater.  That spot is 183F!  The corner, where all the tubing makes many turns and goes downward, is 177F.  Imagine how hot it is inside the chase!  The right image shows where the two tubes enter the chimney.

I think that when they connected the double-walled vent to what existed before, they disconnected things inside the chase, accounting for the high temperatures.  Heat doesn't vent downward well!  It clogs, as you can see, and builds up.  I don't know what is going on at the chimney connection.  I suspect the wide gaps between the vent and brick work are still there behind the metal plate.  It still lacks a clean out port.

* Bestway Construction asked to have me call them with anything that might still be wrong or not to code.

I'm sorry, a home inspector's purview is not to tell a supposedly licensed "construction" company if their work is wrong or not to code...  Any company worth it's salt, um, soy sauce already knows that!

My recommendation:  Hire professionals to do work when repairs need to be done!  And remember, heat should be vented upward!  It isn't heat that flows downhill...

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 39 commentsJay Markanich • January 30 2010 08:29PM

Comments

WOW...It's funny but not really, I spent 16 year's in construction and have seen more damage done by do-it-yourselfers than I ever thought possible. I see by your post that the tradition continues ;-)

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 9 years ago

This is a professional, supposedly licensed "construction" company Russell!  Called Bestway Construction.  They did the remodeling for the flip and the repairs after what was apparently numerous home inspections, mine being the most recent.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I love the thermals.  Hopefully those cameras continue down in price, I wouldn't mind picking one up.  That company really needs to change its name.

Posted by Robert May, Real estate consulting (Robert W May - Lethbridge Real Estate) over 9 years ago

That is just SO messed up----this is enough to make ME cynical:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I would love to have seen a photo of the system and "vents" BEFORE the "repairs" were made.

I have seen many gas heating and hot water or heating systems with vents with openings, or with incorrect slant (not upward), thereby permitting exhaust to escape into the surrounding. 

In fact, I've seen some that were in that state for so long, the accumulation of moisture in the pipe rusted through and exhaust existed through the rusted out holes in the vent pipe. 

My solution to these clear defects is to require a repair and inspection by the local gas company.  On two occassions, the gas company observed defects serious enough to shut off the gas supply to the house. 

That was incentive for the owner to get the repair done.  The owners were not happy to learn that their family had been exposed to carbon monoxide for an unknown period. 

Real estate practice is an adventure.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Jay,

I used to be a homebuilder, and have seen some horror stories.  It's hard to believe that a licensed contractor got paid to create this abortion!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 9 years ago

Robert - I bought this one 6 years ago and it was dramatically more expensive then than now.  It paid for itself in a few months.  The company name does make for some fun, at their expense though.

Charlie - there is more to come!  And all of them the Bestway imaginable!  I think we had some gridlock in that furnace exhaust in the corner, huh?

Lenn - to top it off, after this, and a variety of other comical repairs, were effected, the listing agent is pushing to settle on the house before the Chinese New Year, coming on Feb 14, for "good luck."  Yikes!  These buyers have a 4 month old and its bedroom would be in the room just above this furnace.  They backed off and are looking for another house.  Can you see my shocked face?

Mike - I am betting all this is in the same family and the "payment" for all is the sale of the house.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

 Hey Jay....you and the "more mechanical Hanson" would have a great time with a heated furnace conversation...in another lifetime, he used to build them....love those pictures...think you should start a gallery...call it "What's Hot"...!

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 9 years ago

Sally - ... And What's Not!

This house was a disaster from top to bottom.  I have considered calling the County and reporting it as a fire/carbon monoxide danger.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay.  You probably don't need to call the county.  The gas company might be better and faster.  They will disconnect the gas and "tag" the furnace. 

I love it when that happens.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Lenn -  Thanks.  I have wondered what, if anything, the County would do should I call them.  My clients already called Fairfax County and they were told that the county doesn't inspect things after the fact.  Their insurance company (probably the biggest problem) said they would be covered "if no negligence is found should there be a claim."  Well, negligence is a big word, and for sure they would find substantial reason NOT to cover any claim.  I will try the gas company, although I don't know which to call.  Washington Gas?  VA Power?  NOVEC?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

This makes you think! You have to make sure the companydoing the repairs is experienced and knowledgeable in doing those repairs.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 9 years ago

Well, Cheryl, this was the listing agent's company.  I think the seller, listing agent and construction company are all related, and very excited for the Chinese New Year to come...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay:

You have saved this family from a potential disaster. I am just imagining a four month old baby sleeping directly over this. We can all be thankful for good home inspectors.

 

Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay-these pics look pretty scary-don't want them doing any repairs on my home! Love the thermal imaging-pretty cool.

Posted by Lisa Schlitz, Realtor - Wellington, Florida Homes 561-214-3216 (Home Run Real Estate, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Oh, Claudette!  Thanks, but you have no idea!  This house was a disaster in the making.  Here's the problem - my clients buy it, live there with all the known problems.  If what we can see is so bad, what is wrong with what we cannot see?!  AND, one day they will have to try to sell it.

Thanks Lisa.  And in this case, the IR images are also really hot!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Jay. 

The real frightening part is that in most cases, the real estate agent and/or buyer does not request a re-inspection after the repairs are completed by the seller. 

Posted by Glen Fisher (National Property Inspections of Southern New Jersey, LLC) over 9 years ago

Boy that is one big and dangerous mess. I have seen a boiler and water heater flue poly foamed on a few occasions. It's great stuff!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay,

You're bringing up a very important point here beyond just this single instance. Most buyers and buyers agents will accept the fact that the repairs were completed correctly if they were done by a "licensed" contractor. I wonder what that failure rate really is.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago

I first thought that the homeowner made the repairs and then to find out it was a construction company.  Wow and home improvement guy is getting into the construction business.  I love the comment by them "call them with anything that might still be wrong or not to code". Scary

Posted by Paul Todd, Vacation and Second Homes Sales and Management - Mentone Alabama (Mentone Cabins Realty, LLC) over 9 years ago

The work of a "Jack of all trades" and certainly no a master of HVAC.

Posted by Vince Santos, Southeast Michigan Home Inspector (StepByStep Home Services LC) over 9 years ago

Glen - I do re-inspections only now and then, and you are right, it probably should be more often.  Hey, I'm worth it!

Jim - Great Stuff in more ways than one!  I think it is surpassing duct tape in popular use.

Richard - such a good point.  People, in my experience, for the most part, are trusting and accepting of what they want to be true.  Gee, how often does it not meet what it should, as you say?

Paul - isn't that a riot!?  Call them, geez.  And I think all this transaction was inside the same family.

Vince - I don't know how many people actually populate this "construction company" but I suspect it is only two or three.  And not Jacks of anything apparently.  There is far more than this!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

On older homes especially, people ask me why i recommend a reinspect to see if the repairs were done properly. Could be the cheapest $50 to $75 fee they will ever pay with this as an example.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 9 years ago

Joe - you are correct sir!  And I get very few calls for re-inspections.  The Realtors often think one is not necessary if the get a receipt from a professional repairman.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay I am both impressed and totally speech speechless. I never thought a contractor could actually get paid for such an obvious abundance of stupidity. Good thing there was a re-inspect, since I find that so many times there is none.

Posted by Suesan Jenifer Therriault, "Inspecting every purchase as if it were my own". (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team) over 9 years ago

That's true Sue.  I am seldom called and now I think I may have found a new market to advertise!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay, at the core of reinspect is reinspect   :)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Yes, and try to conduct oneself in the Bestway possible.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

This would be funny if it weren't so scary. It's hard to believe that licensed professionals did this.

Posted by Kim Dove, Realtor - Jacksonville FL (Watson Realty Corp) over 9 years ago

So they say Kim.  I don't know if they really are licensed, but it is frightful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Jay--super post! I think this is a total insult to humans...if something should happen, like say a death or something...who has the responsiblility should a lawsuit ensue??? Do we know?

Posted by Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA, ...The Most Informed Agent In The Hamptons! (Douglas Elliman Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Paula - I would guess the people who did this the Bestway possible.  So to speak.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

I'm not an inspector and I know that the picture isn't good... 

Posted by Lane Bailey, Realtor & Car Guy (Century 21 Results Realty) over 9 years ago

Great points.  I usually like to get it done right the first time.  When I get a house ready for sale I don't want something coming back to bite the seller or me in the arse...LOL

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Compass) over 9 years ago

I advise my clients to never ever accept repairs made by a do-it-yourselfer!

Posted by Aaron Vaughn | Builder | Investor, If the deal makes sense, the cash will follow. (Conifer Homes) over 9 years ago

And you would be right Lane - lots going on there.

Frank - I think all this deal, the listing, and repairs, were all in the same family.  They all wanted it done before the Chinese New Year.

And this construction company appears to be populated entirely with do-it-yourselfers Aaron!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

Amazing tool and very telling   pictures, thanks for sharing it with us.

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 9 years ago

This is the scariest thing I have ever seen!  Love the thermal images.  Very professional.  I would have confidence in what you told my clients.  Keep up the good work.

kp

Posted by Karen Pannell, Owensboro KY Real Estate -270-903-2167 Homes, Cond (Real Living / Home Realty) over 9 years ago

Fernando - the IR camera is the best arrow in my quiver.

Erica - the gas company had about a thousand words when they saw those pictures too!

Karen - aren't the thermal images fun?  The shots are definitive and you can have every confidence once they are seen.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago

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