What I'm Seeing Now

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Get To Know Your Air Flow

It is probably true that on half the home inspections I do the filter is installed backwards.  It is important that the filter be installed the right way!  Why?  Because one side is stronger and meant to handle the air flow's pressure.  There is an arrow drawn on every filter to tell you the air flow direction.  Put in backwards, and as it gets loaded with dust, the filter can literally get sucked into the system and even cause damage to the fan.

Someone took the time to draw which way the filter should be installed.

That way, when it is put into the slot, you only have to put the arrow on the filter in the direction of the arrows drawn on the return duct.

What if the arrows are drawn wrong?

THESE ARROWS ARE POINTING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!!

How do you know which way the air blows?

The air will always be drawn TOWARD the blower.  From the blower it gets heated in the furnace or cooled on the AC coils.

So the air-flow arrows on the filter should point TOWARD blower.

This unit is 5 years old.  It was filthy.  The ducts in the house were filthy.  Could it be the bad information on the arrows contributing to that?

My recommendation:  If you don't know which way the air is blowing, put a piece of toilet paper on the end of a pair of pliers and stick it into the slot.  See which way the paper is drawn.  That is your air flow direction!  Don't believe me?  Check it yourself.  AND THEN DRAW YOUR ARROWS THE RIGHT WAY!

 

 

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 64 commentsJay Markanich • August 20 2010 04:59PM

Comments

Jay, a few dollars for a filter can make thing in the house so much healthier and cleaner. But it does help if the filter is put in the right way.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 8 years ago

Well, Ed, it helps a lot!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing valuable information!

Posted by David Lee ~ Orange County, Ca ~ Cash Flow Specialist (United Realty) about 8 years ago

I have all of my clients' rental properties serviced by an HVAC firm 2x annually - spring and fall.  Very reasonable and I KNOW that this saves my owners $$$ and extends the life of these systems!~

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) about 8 years ago

David - you are quite welcome!

Wallace - I recommend annual service contracts for my clients at nearly every inspection.  A new system probably doesn't need a contract for 4 or 5 years.  But you are a wise PM!  Your clients should know this.  Have them call me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Just changed the filters - after reading this I am going to go back and make sure I put them in correctly.

Mel

Posted by Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate, Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs (Kelly Right Real Estate) about 8 years ago

I Re-Blogged you.  Thanks

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) about 8 years ago

With those arrows written on there I never would've second guessed them.  Thanks for an education that could save a bunch of bucks.   

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) about 8 years ago

Wallace post 4 - Your point about extending the life of the HVAC system is great advice. 

Tenants/Renters will usually NOT install filters (correctly or otherwise), even if you explain at time of lease that it will cut down their utility bill.  Better to pay a service to do it.

Jay, as always, a great post!

 

Posted by Fred Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Jay ....we did one inspection on a home for my buyer and where the filter goes it was taped.....pulled off the tape....no filter at all...unbelievable...

Posted by Dennis Duvernay Broker/Owner (Hillview Realty) about 8 years ago

Good job Mel!  The filtration is the cheapest way to maintain your system.  And properly placed too!

Well, Maureen, as always, thanks!

Kevin - that is the idea!  I always test arrows! 

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Fred - thank you!  You mean tenants don't do everything they say they will?

Dennis - while that is not an often occurence, it is not a rare one either!  This system had no filter either.  I took the cover off to demonstrate where the filter slot is, but who knows how long it had been without a filter.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay - My question is: Did the homeowner do that or the HVAC contractor?  Let's hope it was the owner, for if there is a contractor out there that doesn't understand how a return works, his customers could be in trouble.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) about 8 years ago

I actually have a permanent marker in my bag so I can draw an arrow and write air flow on it for the people. One difference is that I draw the arrow the right way. :)

Posted by Mike Gillingham (Eastern Iowa Inspection Services LLC) about 8 years ago

John - maybe it was the construction supervisor!

Mike - fer sher!  I show'em but don't draw'em!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay, 

Smart and Simple! I love it.  It's amazing how the little things make such a big difference.  I agree Wallace is amazing.  We also do the 2x a year maintenance.  So easy a solution to keep the systems running better by changing the filters, obviously in the right direction.

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) about 8 years ago

Thanks Michelle.  Maintenance is the key if you want to retain as much value on a rental as possible.  You would do that for your own home, why not the rentals?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay, this is good information. I always wondered which way to put in the filter. Now I have an electronic filter and don't have to worry about it any more except for keeping it clean.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 8 years ago

That is a great tip. And you can't always trust someone else's arrows! That could also be a malicious practical joke.

Posted by Dennis Martin, J.D. (Real Estate One Charlevoix) about 8 years ago

Great tip Jay.  I wonder if placing filters in the wrong direction could have caused it to be so dirty, or just lack of maintenance and new filters.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) about 8 years ago

I looked at your picture before I started reading and gave a "huh?" as that was clearly a return duct with the arrows pointing away.  Nice info.  Thanks

Posted by David Niles (Niles Real Estate Investments www.NilesREI.com) about 8 years ago

I LOVE it! I am so glad they have inspectors here to give us tips and insights. This is one of the things that make AR so great. Thanks for the post.

Posted by Kathy Denworth, Realtor in the Florida Keys, Islamorada, Key Largo (Century 21 Schwartz Realty) about 8 years ago

Great advice AND people need to buy the right size filter.  I've seen numerous filters just sitting in the space that did not fit the space.

Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) about 8 years ago

Thanks for the tips, Jay!  I will reblog to help my clients, readers, family & friends with this maintenance issue.  Here's to breathing clean air!  ~ Susan

Posted by Susan Laxson CRS, Local Knowledge & Global Network (Palm Properties) about 8 years ago

Jay, when I was looking at the pictures before reading the blog I thought the arrows were going the wrong way....thankfully after reading your blog, I was not crazy!

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) about 8 years ago

it is always a bad sign when the info on the unit is wrong.

i love reading inspector blogs, and yours is fun!

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, Founder, Wrenn Home Improvements about 8 years ago

(I hope you like the classic Star Trek or else you won't get this.)  Dammit Jay I'm a Realtor® not an HVAC guy! 

Actually what I like about home inspectors is not only do they find problems but they provide common sense tips to homeowners like this.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Thanks for the expert advise.  I make my buyers walk through the inspection, so they can see all this first hand from an expert like yourself!

Posted by Woody Edwards, A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone! (First Choice Realty, Inc) about 8 years ago

It is definitely a good idea to have an expert come out to do the PM. Not only should the filters be changed but the unit outside should also be cleaned to allow proper airflow through it as well.

Posted by Tony Hager, Broker (United Realty Texas) about 8 years ago

Very good information for home owners. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are having a great weekend.

 Blooming for Maryland home buyers.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) about 8 years ago

I always follow the arrows on how to install the filter and just assumed everybody else did too!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 8 years ago

Me and my arrow---stright and the narrow.  If the directions are screwy, things sure are going to end up screwed up.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 8 years ago

Michael - I expect that a lot of people don't.  But if someone is going to take the time to draw arrows, get'em right!

Dennis - hadn't thought of that!  Somewhat malicious though...

Gabe - could be a lot of all that, but putting in the filters wrong and not changing them properly is a big no-no.

David - good eye!  No, you were not crazy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Kathy - I am very glad you are enjoying it so much!

Jeanne and Ralph - that is another big problem.  All the air is not filtered and you really dirty the system that way.

Susan - thank you for the reblog!

Damon - good eye again!  Your gut feeling was correct - isn't that how you are supposed to answer true and false tests?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jeremy - we try, we try!  It is good to be instructive in an entertaining way.

Gene - thanks Bones...  hopefully everything is common sensical!

Woody - that is good.  I do not like doing inspections without my clients present.

United Realty - good advice.  It is a system and has to be treated as such.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Roy - long days this weekend.  Which is good!

Barbara-Jo - t'would not be good to follow these arrows!

Charlie - a poet, but I'm sure you know it!  This system was screwed up and only five years old.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Now that's a great photo.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

Great information Jay Thank You! I would always advise that the seller's agent and the buyer or their agent accompany the inspector. I bet you see all kinds of silly stuff huh Jay?

Posted by Robert Amato (Bob Amato of Empire Home Mortgage Inc) about 8 years ago

That's a classic Reuben, one for the history books!  Is it a top ten hit?

Empire - just when we inspectors think we have seen it all, we see something new!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay: Now I know and will pass it on.

Thanks

Ty

Posted by Ty Lacroix (Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc) about 8 years ago

Ty - "this too shall pass..."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

You get to put a BIG BOW on this arrow...great information....and a tidbit i will pass on to our not so handy buyers and sellers...much grass !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 8 years ago

Jay, it is amazing how many times I see filters installed bass ackwards...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 8 years ago

This is really a common problem.  The other problem is people don't realize they have to change that filter every once in awhile & I don't mean once a year!  Jeez, what idiots we see.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) about 8 years ago

Jay, a good common sense post. Thanks for the advice.

Posted by Ted Tyndall, FL Homes for Sale-Palencia, World Golf Village,Nocatee,St. Augustine (Davidson Realty Inc.) about 8 years ago

Well done and good post. This goes in my Realtors tool chest.

Thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 8 years ago

Excellent post ! I bought a home in '06 and had to change out the furnaces because someone never installed the furnace filters correctly!  The home was 13 years old at that time. 

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) about 8 years ago

Jay,

Almost funny if not such a serious issue.  In my rental contracts tenants are required to change a/c filters monthly.  For their health and the health of the a/c unit.

It is always disgusting to check an a/c filter and find it SO FILTHY it is being sucked up into the unit.  And the tenants wonder why the unit is not working properly.

Good grief!

Dominick

Posted by Dominick Dina, MA, REALTOR®, GRI, e-PRO, TAHS, SFR, Notary Public (Christian Realty San Antonio) about 8 years ago

S&D - and I hope they can use it!

Well, Michael, I'd say half the time!  Wouldn't you?

Lyn - on EVERY inspection I tell my clients to change or wash (if washable) the filter monthly.

Ted - that's what we're here for!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Richie - that must be a really cool tool chest!

Jan - that is a hard-learned lesson!  Wow...

Dominick - that is good to put on a tenant's contract because it teaches a correct principle.  You should fine them if they don't do it and you find it on one of your inspections.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay, more good info. It's amazing how many homes I walk into and initially see dirt, lint buildup on the return air vent grille. No filter, clogged filter, and or improper mainteneance, If only the homeowner would see the clues and properly maintain the system filters, servicing of the unit, everyone in the home could "breathe much easier".

Ron Poteet (Southwest Home Inspection)

Posted by Ron Poteet (Southwest Home Inspection) about 8 years ago

Ron - I often take my client to the upper level to have them look inside the return duct with me.  So often we see stuff blowing in the breeze!  I point out that this stuff isn't just dust, it's also living organisms!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Who knew?  Well, obviously Jay did!!!  Thanks for the info~

Posted by Monica Atherton, Your Temecula Real Estate Gal (The Associates Realty Group) about 8 years ago

Well, thank you Monica!  I hope you find the info useful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

I saw that the arrows were wrong as soon as I saw the photo. I see my share of filter problems too.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 8 years ago

So did I Jim!  I laughed as I went into the room!  Then, when I pulled open the little door, there was no filter present at all!  For how long?  The system was filthy and no surprise as to why...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay,

Great information. Not only did I re-blog you but I am a subscriber!!!

Posted by Valerie Duncan Stewart, Real Estate Agent-Broker, OKC, OK ((Metro First Realty)) about 8 years ago

Wow, thank you Valerie!  I am honored!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay, I learned the hard way that forgetting to change your air filter can cause disruption in your air conditioner...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 8 years ago

Chris - the school of hard knocks can be a cruel teacher.  It is an effective one though...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Jay - In electronic air cleaners, the filter needs to be cleaned regularly.

Posted by FN LN about 8 years ago

Ideally monthly Marc.  On inspections when those are present I actually show the client how to do that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

This is good stuff Jay. Luckily I took Arrow Drawing 101 in college!

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) about 8 years ago

Well, Wayne, it sure would have come in handy here.  Did they do directions in the first or second semester?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

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