Nothing unusual on a flip to find a new heating and air conditioning system. And such a new system often has new duct work as well. Such was the case in this house.
So, in this bathroom ceiling, I saw a new HVAC register. Looking inside I also saw new duct work.
But after turning on the system, and I checked again, there was NO air flow. Zip, zero, nada, as they say.
What do you say when an HVAC register blows no air?
Looking around further, there was not another single HVAC register in the ceiling. This was the only one. The rest on that level blow from the floor, as set up by the new HVAC system.
As a rule, I make a practice of checking air flow from every single register on new construction and flips with new HVAC systems.
Why do I do that? EXPERIENCE!
Often, there is little or no air blowing from registers in new construction and flips.
New duct work is a glorified Slinky. It is wrapped with insulation and plastic or foil, and stretched out to meet the distance needed.
When installed, these slinkies can be wrapped too tightly around rafters, or squished too much through a cut slot. When that is done, it closes off and can be nearly closed off completely.
How do I check for air flow? Simple, I put up my hand! When I don't feel much air I measure it with my CFM meter! Not a sophisticated device, it is simply placed over the register grill and air blows over it, turning the little fan.
It then measures the air flow, displaying the cubic feet per minute (CFM). Larger ducts should blow 400-600 CFM, and the smaller ones for smaller rooms somewhat less. It should always have a good, strong blowing air feel.
The register in the above photo was in the ceiling of the upper-level hall bathroom. That makes it easier to check! I just go into the attic!
What I found was not a surprise!
There was one return duct connected to the large return grill in the hall ceiling. But no supply tubing could be seen anywhere in the attic space.
I went to the area over that hall bathroom.
The insulation was piled up and no duct work could be seen underneath.
So I moved it with my foot until I found the "new" duct I saw through the register in the bathroom ceiling.
Pulling until I found the end I discovered that it was connected to nothing.
NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! IT WAS CONNECTED TO NOTHING!
Why was the insulation piled up over the bathroom ceiling? I think it was to hide the fact that the duct was connected to NOTHING!!
People sometimes ask me if Flippers do wrong things on purpose or hide other wrong things. I have had many posts about that before, notably this one.
So I ask you -- do you think this disconnected duct above was hidden intentionally? Do you think the Flipper knows that this duct is connected to nothing and blows no air?
I DO THINK IT WAS INTENTIONAL AND OBVIOUS TO THE FLIPPER THAT NO AIR BLOWS FROM THE REGISTER!
And he wants desperately to sell this to someone. Anyone. The code requires every room to be serviced by heating and air conditioning. If the County goes to the upper level, the inspector will see the register and ASSUME it works. Then Flipper has "met" the code!
My client decided against the house, with many good reasons. But I was emailed the next day by the realtor to tell me that the house was sold again the next day. That is frightful!
I HOPE THEY GET A HOME INSPECTION AND THAT THE INSPECTOR FINDS THE SAME 500 THINGS I FOUND, BECAUSE SOME OF THEM ARE VERY SERIOUS!!
My recommendation: do not buy any home without a home inspection, but particularly a flip or remodel! You never know what you might find! And what you don't find could put your clients in hock or super stressed for years to come!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560