What I'm Seeing Now

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"Upgraded And Modernized"

The house was built in the 60s but the HVAC system was "upgraded" in the 90s.  And the feature list said, "Not just the system, but the duct work was modernized."

If the system was replaced in the 90s is may have been upgraded but it is due again.  But that wasn't my problem!

As to the duct work, modernized would have meant that the smaller, metal ducts would have been replaced with something larger and insulated.  That would be good news and would not be due again for a newer system.

Unfortunately, four of the six modernized ducts looked like this.

The duct on the right was blowing into my face as I climbed the ladder to get into the attic!

I knew then that we were in for some interesting things up there.

With four of the six ducts disconnected from the ceiling registers the attic space was heated very well, but the upper level of the townhouse was not!  Properly connected, ducts and registers should stay together forever. 

And tape is not the preferred, or best practice, means of connecting the two!

My recommendation:  "modernized" is good!  But it depends on the quality of the job as to whether it's something you want to advertise.  Always have an inspector check it out.

 

 

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 33 commentsJay Markanich • November 28 2011 04:47AM

Comments

Sadly, so often the word "modernized" simply means installing a new machine or appliance.  What's needed is an evaluation of the entire system.

Few home owners know the difference between upgrade, modernize and maintain.

Oh well.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 7 years ago

I bet the homeowners were not happy campers

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay - As you see every day, improved or modernized doesn't necessarily mean effective.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 7 years ago

There you go again...trashing the beloved all purpose duct tape as a treasured DIY tool...shucks !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

How very sad to advertise that as a feature.  How ironic.  Sounds like it was a fun inspection.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 7 years ago

Not long ago the listing on a home I was inspecting stated new furnace and water heater. Both were over 20 years old. I guess it's a matter of perspective. 

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

An AC system updated in 1990 would be past due for replacement. Nice play on words!

 

Posted by Doug Rogers, Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent (Bayou Properties) over 7 years ago

Jay, Just another reason why duct tape should not be used on ducts ; ) You would think that you would not need someone to watch over a contractor to ensure they do the job right. It is sad that there are a few out there who just do not care.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay many people don’t realize that older, smaller duct work was only meant for heating. A “good” AC  system with proper airflow requires a bigger duct system than one just designed for heating. This is a common problem in older houses or even newer houses that didn’t originally have AC installed. 

Posted by David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation, Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential (Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC ) over 7 years ago

MORE DUCT TAPE---WE NEED MORE DUCT TAPE----MORE DUCT TAPE PLEASE!

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Jay -- as David (#9) points out, there is a difference in the size of the duct work depending on its purpose.  You pointed out some problems here, that were only going to get worse with time -- unless they were fixed (modernized again?).

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

Lenn - you're probably right about homeowners and those differences!  And it might be that this entire system was overhauled, but that was in the early 90s.

James - they had no clue!  But did wonder why the upper level did not get warm or cool!

Or installed very well John.  But at one time they did try.  The "technician" didn't however...

S&D - it kind of trashes itself doesn't it?

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

Jay, the ducting would have held up fine if they had only used "duct tape" ;-)

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

Debbie - the agent just advertised what she was told, without really investigating.  Well, it just got investigated!

Isn't that funny how often we run into that Jim?  This house is 50 years old and the system 20.  That's more modern, for sure!

It would Doug!  For sure.  But from the seller's perspective, it was just done a minute ago!

Donald - I bet the sellers have never been up there to see the work.  They are elderly.

What's wrong with duct tape again?

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

David - that may have been the objective in 1990 to upgrade the duct size to accommodate a "modern" AC system.  But for now it isn't looking good!

About time someone said it Charlie.  I tried to ask Don H. above what is wrong with it.  I bet he can't come up with a single answer.

Steven - sometimes adding a modern heat pump to an older duct system is more inefficient than an improvement.  But do the HVAC guys tell the people that?

Chris - about time someone thought about best practices.  But alas, not here...      ;>)

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

I vote with Charles and Chris.  It simply lacked enough Duct Tape! 

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) over 7 years ago

Wow!  That's quite a job they did there.  I don't think I'd list that as a Realtor.  Hopefully nobody would notice.  Unless they had a home inspection.  8-)

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

Hello Jay,

Attics are always a great place to see if the home is in good shape or poor shape. In this case the duct work need a lot of repairing. Not to mention the junction boxes need to be insulated as well.

Good post. Have a great day in VA.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

I know Marge.  And they come in so many different colors now, they could have been coordinated with those ducts.

Mike - and apparently a generation ago!  I am certain the people and the realtor had no idea.  That's what inspections are for!

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

Hi Jay- Great post! You make several good points! Love hearing this sort of information from inspectors!

Posted by Maggie McFarland, Pearland Realtor, Homes for Sale in Pearland Texas (RE/MAX Pearland - Maggie McFarland) over 7 years ago

That is quite funny, in a sad sort of way.   I am sure the agent just took the seller's word for it that it was "modernized" and wrote it down as a feature.  This post is a great argument for seller inspections prior to listing.  

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 7 years ago

Thanks Maggie.  The point is to try to instruct!

Coral - that's probably how that thing happens.  Some agents don't investigate before they put up the many "features."  This was down your way, off Westmoreland.

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

AW, you mean duct tape doesn't adequately fix EVERYTHING?  That or haywire??  :)

Posted by 1~Judi Barrett, BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK (Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745) over 7 years ago

Clint - didn't see you slip in there!  Interesting you say that because this attic had a bunch of junctions just laying on top of the insulation.  I wondered how many more were hidden.

Judi - I agree.  I like the pretty colors it comes in now as well!     ;>)

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

The term mordenized is very subjective. Duct tape could have save the mordenized system....perhaps they should have use more than i roll. haha.

Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) over 7 years ago

It is subjective Mike!  And maybe the agent touting this did not learn exactly what the seller meant.  But you are right about the duct tape, of course.

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

Jay, a little bailing wire would have probably worked a lot better than duct tape. I don't know if I would have called something done over 20 years ago modernized.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Actually, Michael, what they use is a tightly-wrapped nylon strap which you have seen used for gardening and even police handcuffs.  I assume those were around 20 years ago.

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

Jay, when you see "improved" or "modernized" or "renovated" or any of those adjectives, it's like when a bull sees the red cape! 

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

Just add more "Duct" tape and call it recently upgraded.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 7 years ago

Pat - you simply have to investigate it!  My job isn't to criticize but to observe and report.  My clients need protection too, by the way...

Especially if it's the new multi-colored duct tape Robert!

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

Jay:

The agent obviously didn't look at the duct work. Or if he/she did then we need to question what the word "modernized" means.  Realtors are guilty of stretching the meaning of some words to fit our needs.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 7 years ago

Evelyn - could be the agent didn't investigate the complete meaning of what the seller was saying!

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

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