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They Didn't Use Duct Tape - It Brought A Tear To My Eye

Coming around the side of this house I noticed that they didn't use duct tape - it brought a tear to my eye.

Now don't get me wrong, the rest of the job was ugly, unprofessional and should not have been done. 

But still, they didn't use duct tape!

These are the direct vent tubes for a high-efficiency, condensing gas furnace.

They are very efficient furnaces.

But the tubing is large.

I think people worry that birds will get inside and block things, or damage the mechanisms.

Often homeowners have screened them over.

And in this case they used real screening!

The danger here is that when it is very cold, and warm, humid air is blowing out of that upper tube, it can freeze on the screen surface and cause a blockage.

That danger does not exist on the lower tube, which is an intake.  It actually draws in fresh air, exchanging 10% or 15% of the air in the house when the unit is running.  This is more healthful as the system is not simply reheating the same stale air all the time.

The companies actually make a chicken-wire screen to cap the intake so no bird accidentally gets inside.

But they don't recommend screening the exhaust.

My recommendation:  sure, while it looks ugly, unprofessional and a bit comical, at least they didn't use duct tape!  Maybe a paradigm shift is in process!  Minds are being changed as duct tape, which has its good uses, is more regarded now as not good for HVAC equipment!

 

 

 

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 • April 17 2013 02:58AM

Comments

Yes, sometimes home remedies can really make things worse. Yes, freezing can be a real issue with the cold winters.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 5 years ago

Good morning, James. You know, they do make bird screens for these. Why didn't the contractor install them. -- Dummy me, too cheep!!!

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 5 years ago

People don't think of the whole Debbie, sometimes acting on just one idea.  And often incorrectly!

Michael - yes, I mention that in the post.  But this installer left it up to the homeowner to be creative!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago
Red Green is real upset that duct tape weren't used!
Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty National) about 5 years ago

That has to be true Norman.  They are fading fast as their product is losing favor.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Folks rarely think about the quality of the air they're breathing when they seal up a home thinking they are saving on utility costs to heat or cool. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 5 years ago

I think that's a big deal Lenn.  Everything needs to breathe, even our houses!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

That was my dad's major tool growing up.  DUCT TAPE!  It fixed everything!!  :)                                                                         

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) about 5 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thank you for the information; I have often wondered about this of mine.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) about 5 years ago

Finally one of Uncle Bobs ideas have your blessing.  Although he wishes it was more often he'll take all he can get.

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 5 years ago

Yicks.....is that enough of a comment ?  You certainly run across some "creative" folks in your part of the business...who have no clue what kind of problems they create with their DIY fixes !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (Keller Williams 414-525-0563) about 5 years ago
Awwww, now Jay you know duct tape is the perfect product for every application!! LOL!!!
Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) about 5 years ago

Awww shucks, dag nabbit! What kinda tape is that? The metal stuff they use on duct work? The higher one looks like a periscope to me... are you sure they are not spying on the neighbors?

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 5 years ago

Jay:

Liked the post the title is whatr got me.

It is not original with me, but a like it.

"Duct tape is like the FORFCE, it has its light side, it has its dark side; and is used to hold the world together".

Posted by Bob Force (REALTOR®), The FORCE in Maryland Real Estate (Weichert Realtor - New Colony) about 5 years ago

Jay, you would think they could make these look more presentable. Sure is a big eye sore.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 5 years ago

I like the hack job on the vinyl siding to get the vent pipes out.  Home Depot sells the circular saw cut for about $40 to cut the hole.  That what my plumber used.

Posted by Keith Lawrence, ABR, CDPE, SFR, 203K Specialist (RE/MAX Properties) about 5 years ago

Darn, don't they make white duct tape? Then they could have done a custom screening / tape job. Not the neatest harry homeowner fix, I'm sure you've seen worse.

 

Posted by Jeff Pearl, Full Service Full Time Realtor (RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA) about 5 years ago

Well, they had the right idea, Jay, just poor execution.  8-)  Those pipes doe seem unusually large.  Is that the standard for an intake/exhaust pipe?

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 5 years ago

Jay, how does that 10-15% air change work----sounds interesting?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Jay -- my only concern on the way these are situated is that if there is a moderate snowstorm with drifting, is the intake pipe on the side of the house away from where drifting might occur?  If not, it could find itself buried.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 5 years ago

At least they were trying to do the right thing. They could have just taped the whole thing off!

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) about 5 years ago

Jay:  I love your blogs.  I learn something new every day.  Personally I can't stand Duck Tape because I had an uncle that fixed everything with the stuff, including couches.  The horror!

Posted by Christopher Campa, Northern VA Realtor (LONG & FOSTER REAL ESTATE) about 5 years ago

Jay -  Not to worry, the creative minds will find other uses for duct tape that we wil be writing about.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Christiansens - it does and silly me!

Raymond - well, wonder no more!  They make colorful duct tapes now too!

James - what they did doesn't have my blessing!  Just that they used a more modern tape!

S&D - for all I know they "read about it on line..."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

It is J&R, and, um, isn't!

Fred - you have probably never seen a high-efficiency condensing furnace.  That is literally a furnace exhaust tube, made of PVC.  To me it reminds of an elephant trunk!

Bob - I never heard that one, but I like it!

Mike - it pretty much smacked me when I walked around the corner!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Keith - the tubing preceeded the siding!  That hack job was done by the siding guy!

Jeff - I see screening all the time.  And USUALLY with duct tape!

Yes Mike.  Sometimes they look like a bell.  The intake/exhaust fit together at the end.

Charlie - an HVAC guy explained to me that properly mixed the unit pulls up to 20% more air than it needs for combustion.  That extra essentially goes into the house air mix.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Good point Steven.  These are considered high enough, for this area at least, but sometimes they are too low and I have to flag that.  It doesn't look it, but here the intake (lower one) is about 30" high.

Fortunately they didn't Marc!

Chris - it is an incredibly useful product and probably used in the most creative of ways more than any other thing!  But originally it wasn't called "duct" tape and it was never meant for HVAC!  Couches yes.

Eric - see my answer to Chris above!  Look forward to it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

These are closed combustion systems, how would the unit be drawing and distributing additional air to the house? Sounds like your HVAC guy spent to much time under an exhaust vent. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 5 years ago

What that guy Jim said :)  I would add that not only are they closed system the combustion area is always under negative pressure so a small amount of house air may be entering the furnace but it should not be happening the other way around.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

Hey, neither of you boys said anything about the lack of duct tape!  What's up with that?

Jim - I used to lay behind the vacuum cleaner when my mother was working, and letting the air blow on my face.  Maybe that's the problem...?  I also thought it was fun to talk into the blowing air!

The HVAC guy's thinking was that since it is drawing in 10-20% more than it needs, the additional is blown around the house.

Charlie - I just wrote Dr. Sherman at Lawrence Berkeley Labs to get his thoughts.  He has always been very generous with his time and my questions.  I'll post what he done did say me.

I should get him to autograph a couple of his books I have in my libarary!

You two still my BFFs?

 

;>)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Wow, he answered me inside of two minutes!

Heah 'tis:

"I am not an expert on all the various equipment out there, but my understanding is that the whole combustion side is isolated from the building side.  Thus whatever air is brought in for combustion is exhausted back out.  None interacts with the house.

What might be true is that they bring in 20% more air than they need for combustion.   This makes for a lean burn, which they may want to manage in the combustion process.  The extra air goes back out again.  It is not that it is unbalanced.  It should not be distributed throughout  the house."

So, he is the ASHRAE director at LBL.  Even though he doesn't have specific experience, he is up on the concept.  I like the answer.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

Sure I am Jay. Now Charlie, he's a lot tougher. You might have to send him chocolate. 

Funny, I had a system the other day without screens. Made note of it in the report. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 5 years ago

Aw, he's gotten it already Jim.  Maybe he'd enjoy a wooden top!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

And here I was thinking I was losing my mind---got it all duct taped back together now ---no sifting or screening necessary:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 5 years ago

For you, First Internet Date...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 5 years ago

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