What I'm Seeing Now

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"New Heat Pumps Only 2 Years Old!"

The good features of a home are often presented to prospective buyers.  I have found that sometimes people will put together a list for me too, so I can tell what's new and what's not.  I'm pretty good about determining that for myself, but people assume otherwise.

In this case there were two new heat pumps, both dated 2009, so they were installed about then, that were advertised.  That's good!

Until I saw them.  Actually I did not know where the second one was until I figured out it was jammed into a space behind another unit so tightly I couldn't fit back there to see it, saw where the filter was expected to be installed and removed, and to repair the little fellow the other unit would have to be completed disassembled first.  But I digress...

Remember, "New Heat Pumps Only 2 Years Old!"

You'll enjoy this. This kicked off the adventure.

There is a reason for this sticker.  It really protects the manufacturer, although it looks like an instruction.

A true heat pump professional would not need to read this sticker.

The inclination is for proper flow o' condensate.  The trap is so bacteria and fungal crud do not migrate back into the unit and infest the house.

This is what they installed!  That is a garden hose or auto radiator hose, I'm not sure which.  There is no trap.

This unit has been running for some time, on a hot and humid day.

Look at that glorious flow o' condensate!  There is a small drip if you look closely, on the bottom.  It's a gusher!

I took a photo trying to demonstrate the enormous quantity of water still inside the unit, unable to get out, but it didn't show much.  Bummer.  The bottom of the unit had water in it though and the rusty floor can be seen in the photo below.

Best of all, the unit is a full 8" from those studs!  Can the studs be removed?  I wouldn't, they support the staircase!

Believe it or not the other unit is behind that supply duct going into the concrete on the left!  It's jammed against that supply duct, the rear wall and is 8" or so from those studs on the left.

The filter slot on the right is so close to the wall that the only filter you can use is in the upper right photo.  It has to be scrunched up, folded into quarters, and slid inch by inch into the opening. 

Does it stay tightly and actually filter air?  No.

The unit on the left is the same, but the filter can only be installed with one hand, the left hand at that, and was similarly hanging loosely.

Overall, it's impressive to see "Two New Heat Pumps Only 2 Years Old!" slammed into an area of about 16 square feet.

I'm calling the Guinness Records people!

My recommendation:  sometimes information regarding a house is completely correct.  But you never know what you're going to get when you open a box of chocolates.  So, it's always best to call a home inspector to help you as you bite into them!  That way you'll know what you get!

 

 

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 12 commentsJay Markanich • July 19 2011 08:02AM

Comments

Many times I see clear plastic tubing used for the condensate drain lines with a loop in it to create the trap and almost just as many times it is crudded up and stained black at the trap loop while the rest of the tube before and after is completely clear and clean.

I doubt very much that these set-ups are preventing any build up. I think they are just adding to the problem.

Recently I've begun to see the white piping that you see in your photo used for the condensate drains and they are installed straight with no traps.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 9 years ago

The straight lines are how they used to do it too Robert.  I am in favor of the traps.  Actually I see those clear lines, equipped with a little brush for cleaning.  You can see the crud and eliminate it.  Migrating bacteria and molds are a big problem around here.  I don't know about as far north as you are.

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

Jay,

For the most part I see proper traps installed. There are those like in your example of inspired "in the field work".

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Thanks for the info, Jay.  The devil is in the details.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 9 years ago

I am sure the installers had NO problem getting that first heat pump put in place.  They just lacked "common sense" as to how anyone could maintain it after the second one was put in.   Wonder if they thought this up on their own, or if it was in the architectural blueprints this way?

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 9 years ago

Don - there was a whole lot of field work in this house.

Chris - this was a really, really red devil too!

Steven - house built 1974 - heat pumps installed 2009.  Not exactly the plans.

To get them in they had to remove a lot of one return duct.  To put it back they merely taped it back together with aluminum tape!

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

That is finished work there my friend. You said yourself you can put in the filter once you fold it like a sandwich.

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

Jim - can you imagine the HVAC guys, after removing (and reinstalling only with aluminum tape) the return duct and unit #1 in order to install unit #2 saying,

"Gee, how do we install the filter?" 

"No problem!  We can fold it!  Done!"

And they fell into the no-trap trap.

I am continually amazed.

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

The clear lines with the loops in them usually have the loops mid length on the condensate line run. There is no chance of cleaning them that far in from the ends.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 9 years ago

Sure Robert.  They would have to be disconnected and hopefully blown out.  But you gotta love a garden hose used as a straight shot to the floor drain.

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

I'm a little more sympathetic to the installers who don't read the manual, but when the installation diagram is right on the outside of the unit... c'mon!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 9 years ago

There is a reason that model of unit has that sticker Reubs, and it isn't because any old thing will work.

Look at all that water spewing from the hose!

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

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