What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

When An HVAC Register Blows No Air

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 32 commentsJay Markanich • May 26 2011 02:42PM

Comments

Jay:

Very good post. Glad your clients had you on the job to expose the fraud.

Posted by Alan Kirkpatrick, Alan in Austin (Austin Texas Homes) over 7 years ago

Nice post Jay. For a minute there, I thought you were going to say the supply duct was connected to the 'return' duct! Have seen that a few times. Bad, bad, bad idea!

Posted by Jeffrey Jonas- Minnesota Home Inspector (Critical Eye Property Inspections / JRJ Consultants) over 7 years ago

Jay: I would like to say unbelievable, but thanks to you I am learning this nonsense is all too true. Caution, caution on these flips. 

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) over 7 years ago

Alan & Michele - this is the latest of many incredible finds on this one house!  It is amazing.

Jeff - Me too!  Along with the bath vent!  It's chilling what we find sometimes, but this one was not at all surprising!

Anne - caution indeed!  Inspections on flips are very fun, but sure are time consuming!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

The Eye, you should just laminate a copy of your inspection report and put it on the front mat.

Of course, you'll need to do this daily, as Flipper will throw your report away (or use it for scrap paper if he's green) each time.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 7 years ago

Do you mean the same report over and over so I don't have to keep re-writing the voluminous thing Jeremy?

That would surely save me some time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Just for this house, Eye.  As a public service item to protect the unsuspecting buyer.

You'll still need to "look" everything over at new places.  "See" what I'm saying?

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 7 years ago

I get it now.  Slow on the uptake.  Some things are harder to see than others Jeremy!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

:)

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 7 years ago

Jay,

In your state, are inspections shared with the seller by the buyer as justification for repair requests or for cancellations? If so, the problems would become material facts that must be disclosed. If I were buying and had an inspection and then cancelled the deal, I'd definitely share the report with the seller. If I'm walking, I sure don't have use for the report any more. I think that would be a nice gift to the flipper.

Then, if the discovered problems aren't fixed or disclosed, the flipper has problems.

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) over 7 years ago

"Nothing from nothing is nothing" , I think that's a song title, don't remember who by, but definitely in the pre-rap era when ducts were made of metal and were noisy going in and operating.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

Mr Jay,

I sees that alls of the times when I root around in attics.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Glad to make you happy Jeremy!

Brad - yes, some things are covered by the contract and some negotiable.  In this case the flipper was waiting for the inspection report to know what to do to get ready for his County inspection.  That's what he said.  Do I buy it?  No.  He sold it the next day.  In VA the inspection report is always shared with the seller, so he knows what I came up with.  And he also knows a bunch of it already.

That was Billy Preston in 1975 Robert!  I remember it well.  That was a "soul" tune, long before rap.

Those long ducts make for nice places to live Nutsy.  The longer they are the longer you root.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, this is something that my home inspector does not do, but something worth looking at.  Another reason why, in Bristow Va, is there really another choice?

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

He doesn't do what Chris?  Go into the attic?  Check registers for air flow?  Basic stuff really.

But thanks!  And I go all over Northern Virginia!  That's what we call it here.  We are kind of a separate state from the more rural areas.  But that is not to discount the wonderful rural areas!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Last time I checked fraud and deliberate deception was a crime. Yet this flipper was allowed to sell this house a second time without, I'm sure, making any repairs.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

She said it sold the next day Jim.  Is it our purview to get involved in stuff like this?  I have done it in the past and nobody paid attention.  Having that class the other day with the County inspectors led me to believe they would welcome a call.  But again, I wrestle with whether this is my (our) thing to get involved in.  What thinkest thou?

And there is OFTEN stuff about flips that is intentional deception!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I struggle with this question all the time.  To speak or not to speak, that is the question.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 7 years ago

Your job, as far as I know, is to protect your client.  If the house sold the next day, lets hope that the new buyer has as good an inspector as you.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 7 years ago

Jack - when I have spoken nobody hears!  Hence the bold, all caps in the last paragraph!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Robert, that's Billy Preston's song "Nothing From Nothing".

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, C.O.O., Winslow Homes (Winslow Homes) over 7 years ago

Gotta love the flippers that make it pretty but really don't do Anything! As for your advice, I totally agree. Get A Home Inspection Every Time!

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 7 years ago

Jeremy - I think I said that! 

Eric - thanks, but only my client benefited from this one!  I don't think the next purchasers will call me.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, I'm doing a second showing on a flip tomorrow, and you've made me totally cynical about these guys. 

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Good advice for buyers as usual... I Re-Blogged it...Thanks for allowing Re-Blog.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) over 7 years ago

I seem to remember, Pat, a flip/remodel I visited with you and on the SECOND visit the contractor met us at the door to tell us that all the addendum had been done.  And I seem to remember that NONE of it was done.  And I have "made" you cynical?   ;>)

You are welcome Maureen.  These guys really take the cake sometimes.  Hope you can use the info!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

The Master at his best.  Good morning Jay.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) over 7 years ago

Thanks Ken.  You poke around in attics all the time looking for non-existent HVAC ducts, don't you?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

AMEN! Nothing replaces a good home inspection!

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) over 7 years ago

Barbara-Jo - a look here, another there, and before long you find stuff!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

That was a great catch, met the code alright.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 7 years ago

Thanks Lyn.  It wasn't too hard.  Just feel around!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments