What I'm Seeing Now

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When It's Flu Season, It's Flue Season

When it's flu season, it's flue season - the furnace flue that is.  Gas and oil systems utilize a flue to exhaust their combusted gases out of the house. It's simple really - various tubes connect to provide a contained, directed flow of furnace exhaust outdoors.

When an older system is replaced in an older house, typically the entire flue system is replaced at the same time.

It's just smart to do that.

Let me do some what ifs...

What if the sales literature states that the HVAC system was completely replaced in August?

What if this is the first winter the furnace would be used?

What if this is the first winter the furnace flue is used?

What if the seller has been feeling ill all fall and winter? 

What if the seller is home, because it's Saturday, and agrees to leave for the home inspection, but would really prefer to stay in bed?

What if, when questioned, the seller states that the illness experienced is not serious, just a persistent, low-grade headachy, jointachy, tired and achy feeling?

What if none of these things can be connected until the home inspector looks around?


What if the inspector found that not all of the flue tubing had been replaced, only the portion up to the attic?

What if the inspector found that all the furnace flue tubing, old and new, was NOT connected?

What if the inspector found that the soffit vents were blocked with insulation?

What if the inspector ALSO found that the ridge vent was very narrow (1/2-3/4" wide) AND covered with tar paper?

What if that disconnected flue had been venting into this poorly-vented attic space, obviously, since installation?

What if there was no carbon monoxide detector in the house?

What if the home inspector cannot smell, taste or see a problem but really, really suspects one?

AND WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?  CARBON MONOXIDE IS THE PROBLEM!  WOULD A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR HAVE EXPOSED THIS PROBLEM?  LIKELY...

But you were already thinking that anyway, right?  You got that about the third what if, right?

What if the inspector was to suggest to the selling agent to call the listing agent right away to have the seller call the installation company whose sticker is PROUDLY displayed on the furnace to come to rectify this right away since they weren't smart enough, professional enough or didn't have enough time to do it right the first time and had put this seller in danger for months now?  Yes, that's a long sentence to make a point.

Would you think that home inspector to be out of line?  Neither would this home inspector.

My recommendation:  sometimes a problem can be arrived at logically, even when a problem is not suspected by anyone but the home inspector.  So my recommendation would be to always make sure you get a home inspector for clients buying a house.  Period.

 

 

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 35 commentsJay Markanich • December 18 2011 04:38AM

Comments

Great reminder Jay, not only for a home buyer, but for anyone who has been having persistant flu-like (no pun intended) symptoms. Many people keep their windows open all summer and don't notice so much, until the home gets closed up for the winter. Most professional inspectors perform maintenance and safety inspections for a nominal fee.

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

I think a persistent flu-like system would always indicate something not disease related Jeffrey.  And this furnace obviously had never been used.  Usually 2+2=4.  It sure did here!

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

Wow, you are really in the business of saving lives.  Good for you.  I hope the current homeowner starts to feel better soon and the new home owner has a nice new home.  Good for you.

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

Hi Jay.

Good find. I did see the "dam" for the blown in insulation was installed incorrectly as well.

Plus why did they dam if there was not much blown in added?

Looks like a bunch of homes I had inspected when I was inspecting for energy audit's.

This should have never passed an inspection.

Have a great day in Va. Happy Hoildays my friend.

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

Good morning, Jay.

     Looks like you have the same bone-heads working up there that we do down here. Kinda reminds me of "Simple Simon"...

Posted by Michael Thornton, Nashville Area - Photography & Videography (RadnorLake Video) over 7 years ago

Thanks, Debbie, and the new homeowner will certainly have a safer home.

Clint - and it didn't pass the inspection!  The insulation here is blown-in cellulose, so there is only about 8" of it.  That met the standard when the house was built.  It needs more in my opinion.

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

Me thinks the bone heads get around really fast Michael.  I'm thinking Leer jets.

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

With Carbon Monoxide....you can't depend on the "Nose Knowing"....snoopy inspectors are one of the best ways to detect problems...thank you Snoopy !

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

Por nada S&D.  The nose knows nothing in this case.  The eyes have it.

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

 

A lot of what ifs and I wonder if there are more? ;) I just should I ever want to sell my home I think I’ll hire either you or Michael or Clint or well now what if I just invited all of you down to take a look see??? ;)

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

Good morning Jay;  This is unbelievable in this day and age.  No CO detector?

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

Good morning Jay,

Great wordplay and important information...love the "proudly displayed" - yes, the owner should call the company quickly (I won't say what they should call them, LOL)

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

That's a lot of important "what ifs", Jay.  That's one thing that every family should have checked every year.  We have gas, and we do a sweep each year prior to the cold season.  It scares my wife terribly.  We do have carbon monoxide detectors scattered about.  Very important info, and suggested.

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

I have seen similar a few times this fall. Another thing, if the owner is experiencing CO poisoning symptoms, one has to also wonder how well tuned the furnace is. 

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

Disconnected b-vents can result in one heck of a lot of moisture into the roof structure as well.  Jim makes a good point too that there might not have been any CO at all---but CO is only one combustion by-product that can be an issue with indoor air quality.

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

Jay, I have always told people about the flues in wood stoves and fireplaces, but never about the flues in their heating systems.  Thank You for this great information

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

James - that is a fabulous idea and I think you should invite the whole lot of us AR inspectors down.  We will comb your house and then have a pah-tey.

Ken - single girl and may not even know there are such things!

Lisa - big sticker!  And very proud!

Thanks Mike.  They recommend at least two detectors.  And why not?

 

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

Hard to know Jim.  That puppy was manufactured in July and installed in August.  You'd think they tuned it, but you could be right.

Very true Charlie and I just checked the report and the bath did vent into the attic.

You're welcome Chris.  I imagine there have been dozens of posts like this.  Furnace or boiler venting is crucially important because they run so frequently during cold days.

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

So, Jay, you made me chuckle right off, with the title! So true. And the sellers have to love you, Dr. Jay, for ending some of their flu-like symptoms! They can ditch the Thera-flu, get a new FLUE and no longer be CLUELESS about why the can't shake the FLU!

And, you are like an Inspector SuperHero for both the sellers and the buyers. Hey, take the rest of the day off--you deserve it!

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) over 7 years ago

Jay -- great way to keep people's interest - by continuing the "what ifs" - as the reader without knowledge of what was coming would keep reading to find the answer to all those questions.

Have a fantastic week!

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

Thanks Gayle, but not time.  I'm looking at my pocket watch and I have a very important date!

Steven - that was the idea, but the what ifs are how the inspection progressed!  The final outcome was unexpected.  I have never seen that in an attic!

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

Jay, one of my neighbor's lost her brother to carbon monoxide poisoning in his flat in London.  It's serious stuff. 

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

That's very unfortunate Pat.  And it is so easily detected, but simple maintenance goes a long way too, as you know.

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

I hope this seller does not have serious health/brain damage due to this prolonged low level exposure of carbon monoxide.   Did the buyers buy the house?

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

This is an easy fix Coral and it was a very nice little house.  One of those condo/townhouse deals.  And in good shape.  Hopefully the new furnace is otherwise balanced and in good shape!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago
Always have an home inspection for Safety and health issues. Hope the sellers did appreciate your findings and are on the road to recovery. Good to clear up those" what ifs".
Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 7 years ago

I agree Margaret.  This was an easy fix and hopefully was done quickly.

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

Hey, Jay! 

I included this post in Last Week's Favorites.  Have a Merry Christmas!

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

Thank you Pat!  Always fun to see that and it's appreciated!

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

Wow Jay that is just an awful discovery. No one checked anyone's work on all those installs.

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

Obviously not Lyn.  But when a professional is employed to do such work, nobody should have to check!

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

Sorry Jay, can't really comment much about fireplace items, living in S. Florida, however we do get an occasional FLU now and then.

Posted by Winston Heverly, GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA (Winston Realty, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Well, Winston, we do the flu here too!  But these flues can be very serious also!

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

Nice catch, and good deductions.  We found a similar situation many years ago; the owner thought the water that was pouring in to their living spaces was the result of an ice dam.  Not so.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Yummie, Reubs, yummie.  That had been like that for some time!

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

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