This is a flip, and a total "remodel," of a 120 year old house. I always expect to find things that aren't right.
AND WE WERE IN FOR SOME FUN!
After turning appliances on to get them running, I always start in the basement. The first thing I see is the new heat pump, but it is hooked up to the old, metal duct work. Now I am not an HVAC specialist, but you just can't do that. The old system was oil and blew much less air than a heat pump demands. Retrofitting heat pumps and using the old duct system is a fat NO, NO.
But right beside the unit is the thermostat. The basement simply isn't the best place to put a thermostat. And right beside the system and under the only register in the basement! So it's temperature registration will not accurately reflect what is going on in the rest of the house. I had noticed the main level was a little cooler than the basement, so my client and I had a talk about stratification and regulating temperatures level to level.
FYI, there were no duct dampers (of course, they were using the old duct work) to help that and only on return vent. That sole return was in the floor of the hallway and 12x12". Heat pumps require huge amounts of air. They HAVE TO return at least as much air as they blow. If not, you will never have a comfortable home and the unit will be killed off in a couple of years.
THE BIGGEST KEY TO EFFECTIVE HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING IS THE RETURN AIR DUCTS AND THEIR LOCATIONS.
We went upstairs and it was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit! Outdoors was about 30 degrees so something was up! And I got the question: "Is the thermostat in the basement why it's so cold upstairs?"
My immediate response was that probably not, there had to be something else going on. The upstairs had three bedrooms, a hallway, a hall bath and a "master bath" in the rear bedroom. Looking around, only the center bedroom had a heating register! Neither bathroom had one, neither of the front bedrooms and not the hallway.
"Is that why it's so cold?"
The same question again.
"Let's look in the attic."
Up I went to see this.
You are looking over the two front bedrooms. Of course you don't see any HVAC registers. We know there weren't any.
Do you notice anything else missing?
I don't see insulation.
Do you see insulation?
I don't see insulation.
I see wiring for the new lights, so the electricians were up there.
There was a new duct for that one room, so the HVAC guys were up there.
SOMEBODY KNEW THERE WAS NO INSULATION UP THERE! AND NO DUCTS SERVICING THE OTHER ROOMS.
My recommendation: A flip by a contractor does not mean the contractor knows what he is doing. That heat pump has no chance of being effective. This particular contractor's check list did not include installing HVAC registers or insulation.
Do you think those were the only things he missed? Can you see the twinkle in my eye as I ask that?
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560