What I'm Seeing Now


An HVAC System Looking To Kill. Really.

I didn't understand this installation from the moment I saw it - it was an HVAC system looking to kill.  Really.

This new system was installed in 2011.  Not using the grill returns in the ceiling in favor of a new media filter in the unit (those are the 3" or 4" thick ones), in order to get to the filter one had to go up and literally crawl over the unit!

This is one of many views of the unit.

Literally this installer taped, TAPED, the unit to duct work.

Classy, classy job!  It represents experience, ability and true customer care.  (sarcasm dripping from my curled lips) 

I see this company's work all the time and the next time I see the owner wave from the back of the truck I will know what to do...

But I digress.

Of course crawling over the unit for filter replacement ever since 2011 had separated it from the duct work.

I got a delightful and welcomed blast of cool air in my face while in the hot attic though!  Nice!

Hard to tell from the photo, but this particular gap is wider than my very classy PF Flyer!

All of the other equipment like condensate line clean out, drip pan float and discharge tube and filter cover are on the other side too.

All of those things need access.

To have to climb over a unit to get to them is not smart.

Flexible ducts also octopus off the end of the rectangle duct you see here, so the entrance and exit to the backside of the unit is a broad stretch of the legs, but a very narrow opening.  Not good.

But here is my biggest beef.

Stepping back over the large, flexible duct to get out of the attic, the perch in front of the access ladder is only about 6"!!

If, stretching the legs so far, you miss, slip or misplace your foot look where you go!

Who thought this was a good idea must have learned the HVAC trade from Murphy, of the famous Murphy's Law.

Oh, and the attic access ladder was dated 2011.

I wonder who put it in?

Just wondering if that guy is waving bye byes when someone falls down that staircase because the attic access ladder was installed with 8, that's eight,


This guy is good!

You knew that drywall screw comment was coming, didn't you!

When contacted the HVAC company, while waving, wrote back that if someone is afraid of going up there to simply remove the media filter and start using the ceiling grill returns again! 


Um, hey fella, the system is still put together with tape, and you still have to climb over the unit and fall down the ladder every time the unit needs access!  What's the plan, bub?

And who was it that talked these people into the ultra-expensive media filter so little Bobo's allergies would be controlled? 


Please understand everybody - media filters, any good filter, will not control allergies.  I know what they say on TV commercials.  What air they filter they filter well, that is true.  But the system cannot turn over enough air every hour to make a difference in the air's allergic content by volume.

My recommendation:  look for dangerous circumstances!  Pay attention to them on home inspections.  A danger that exists when you buy the house will remain unless something is done to eliminate the danger.  In this case my client, a doctor, smartly wanted the system moved sideways so one did not have to climb over anything to gain access.  The seller, understandably, balked.  We'll see how it ends up, but I assure you my client, a doctor, does not want that danger in his house!  He also wanted the attic access ladder removed and properly installed.  I think that if the waver's company installed it, the waver should also be the company that pays for that re-installation!




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 53 commentsJay Markanich • July 22 2013 04:56AM


Thanks Jay for these postings ... it's amusing to see the absurd efforts of others!!  Thank goodness we have inspectors as yourself to share these stories and knowledge of the errors of other professionals!

Posted by Dan Hopper, Denver Realtor / Author / Advocate/Short Sale (Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE) over 7 years ago

I call'em like I see'em Dan.  Thanks!

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

This really sounds more like a do it yourself-er gone wild than any professional. Amazing mess!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 7 years ago

OH that is sad and very unsafe.  And, no, you can't believe everything you see on TV.

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

Not a DIYer, Gary.  This guy is on TV more locally than any other company.

Debbie - say it ain't so!  You mean it isn't too good to be true?

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

Boy, we are on the same wavelength! http://activerain.com/blogsview/3792587/mac-daddy-hvac-unit-#16680323

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 7 years ago

I love reading posts by home inspectors because I learn so much. Even though something is 'new' doesn't mean it works right...can't imagine that improperly installed unit was working at 100% efficiency. I have seen more than one short attic ladder due to a high ceiling...not sure why they're installed at all. Good info about the filters too. Thanks for sharing. 

Posted by Jill Winchel, We make it easy. You make it home. (Royal Shell Real Estate - The Koffman Group ) over 7 years ago

Jay, you are soooo picky!

Just kidding!  I'm really glad that you work in this area and find all of the important stuff for my clients. 

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

I am shocked that dry wall screws were used on the ladder, but then I figured it out.  He used all the duck tape on the duct and air handler.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 7 years ago

Fred - done did see it.  Done did comment.

Not close to 100% Jill!  Low air flow - gee, why?

Pat - thanks!  Forget the important stuff for clients.  I just like seeing the knees working well!

I was disturbed by the lack of chewing gum Chuck.

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

Jay, wow... wow... and wow. How important it is to have a competent home inspector it is. But really, it is also extremely important to have a competent installer in the first place. Enough said. 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 7 years ago

I'm beginning to think the drywall screw may be joining the ranks of duct tape and WD40 Jay.  :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 7 years ago
i would never call that company simply because that guy wavng from the back of the truck freaked me the out the first time I saw ... not something you want to happen while drivng! LOL Glad to know they give similar forethought to their installations.
Posted by Susan Haughton, Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results. (Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545) over 7 years ago

Classic, and stupid at the same time. I call out drywall screws all the time, and agents think I'm being a picky little inspector. One of these days I'm going to walk into an office with gauze and fake blood all over my head and tell them a kitchen cabinet full of Chunky soup fell on me and almost killed me. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 7 years ago

Andrea - these poor people have been living with this for a long time, unawares!  I think's it dumb and dangerous.

Tom - those screws joined that rank a lot time ago!

I see him now and then at Costco having a business meeting Susan.  He apparently has some deal with them.  I see him at Chic Fila too, with his furry, life-sized sign there.  Did you get that?

The screws are one thing Scott.  The installation and dangerous exit from the space is another!

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

Jay -- It's just amazing what installers get away with with these unsuspecting homeowners. New system 2011?  What a mess! The buyers are lucky to have you for their inspector.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Well, Barbara, this is a problem no matter who owns the house!  I would feel badly selling this to someone else.

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

if there is something wrong in an attic...Jay will hunt it down. It wont do you any good to hide...whatever you are

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Wow I am not surprised at all. Many people just do not know when it comes to install AC units.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 7 years ago

Richie - I found 8 or 10 major roof leaks and a multiplicity of minor ones!  Plus, all the dormer windows, opening to the attic, were leaking!

Harry - personally I was shocked by this installation.  Not good at all.

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

Hi Jay,

Why walk or crawl into the attic? Just put on your cape and fly.

I get the point. Many times the installer will not have a clue as to how easy changing the filter can be.

Have a great day in Bristow.

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

Clint - woulda, coulda have a cape!  These people insisted on the super filter, making the easy way "obsolete."

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

I hate to say it, but we do see a lot of problems with hvac installs.  Bad locations, too much tape, or too little tape--it adds up to problems!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 7 years ago

My air filter in my vehicle is "interesting" to get at too. Gotta love engineers!? Keep Smilin'

Posted by Brian Schulte, SFR, Sierra Vista, AZ (Allison James Estates & Homes) over 7 years ago

Since the installer will never have to service, that gave no consideration for the location of these items.

Posted by Edward & Celia Maddox, EXPERIENCE & INTEGRITY - WE TAKE THE HIGH ROAD (The Celtic Connection Realty) over 7 years ago

Is there a solution for the original home owner at installation?

Call in another company to check the installation?

Call a home inspector?

What would you suggest.

I'm sure they paid top dollar for the unit and install and their energy is going out the roof because they failed to properly install.

Thank you!

Posted by Michele Peterson, Sellstate Realty First (Sellstate Realty First) over 7 years ago

Jay, why aren't these types of things cited by the buidling inspectors during the construction? I never understand this.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 7 years ago

Say it ain't so Jay!  I'm glad that your posts get so much traction. I think buyers need to hear from home inspectors like you.  Sometimes they think we make this stuff up!

Posted by Tamara Inzunza, Close-In Alexandria and Arlington Living (Realty One Group Capital) about 7 years ago

Wow. Never ceases to amaze me. I will ask the same as Tammie #27 - how in the world can they get away with this kind of BS? Side note: we purchased a home 5 years ago and found out that the intake vent was too small for the size of HVAC they installed. We asked - how did this pass inspection!? It cost us $1,000 to correct. Grrrrr!

Posted by Jeff Stevens, Jeff Stevens, Associate Broker (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Mexico Properties) about 7 years ago

stolen! thanks for the good advice

Posted by Gregory Bain, For Homes on the Jersey Shore (Mezzina Real Estate & Insurance) about 7 years ago

Jay -- it is too bad that there wasn't better quality control when this was installed two years ago.  And obviously the filter unit should be easily accessible, not hidden in a nearly unreachable place.

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

Thats quite a story Jay, I wonder how many of their clients realize how poorly they install systems like this.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities) about 7 years ago

Maybe the cool air supply in the attic was made by the AC installer to make sure he had a cool place to work when he came back to repair it.

Posted by Jay & Michelle Lieberman, Creating Calm in the Buying and Selling Chaos (Keller Williams World Class) about 7 years ago

Jay -  you made an awful situation good reading though..  I am glad to say that you survived the inspection.. perhaps if the installer were to offer 20 years of free service and with full insurance coverage for himself and the homeowner.. he will realize what he did..

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) about 7 years ago

I would have the owner of the company over for a visit with your inspection report in hand. Shoddy work is shoddy work.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max By The Sea) about 7 years ago

As Michelle asks in post #26, how does a homeowner/layman check the work?  Even a good company can have a bad employee/installer here and there.

Does anyone check their work?  What if you had never inspected this home and they just kept it for 10 years?

Don't they need a permit and then pass inspection?  Does the mechanical inspection even look at the access/wrong screws issue??

Posted by Athina Boukas, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) (Virginia Capital Realty) about 7 years ago

I am in escrow right now on a nice looking house but Saturday the home inspector went up in the attic to check out the HVAC unit and found it was made by Consolidated Industries and is a Premier brand but it was recalled due to fires. The company is not gone as of 2003 so no one to get a new unit from but the buyer is having a HVAC man come out this week to verify before we request a new unit or cancel. Life is more important than a new home.

Your story is amazing and like Athina just mentioned, a permit is required to install in most states if not all. I know in CA we require it. Hope the buyer and seller work it out and good thing that their has not been any fires since it was installed in 2009.

Posted by Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor, (909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning (Sun Lakes Realty) about 7 years ago

Go ahead Jay..... say what you REALLY THINK.

Maybe you should invite some of these contractors to write a "guest post" allowing them to judstify their work. Surely the other side of this should have a chance to show how this is really good workmanship. That would garner a LOT of laughs. 

We appreciate what you do Jay!

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) about 7 years ago
This goes to prove that even newer homes or newer installations can have problems. Newness does not guarantee correctness.
Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) about 7 years ago

Well that installer is certainly lucky his bad installation didn't drip or tear your spiffy PF Flyers - we'd have to gun him down.  

Seriously, what a ridiculous installation...hard to believe he is licensed!

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

Another quality installation, Jay.  The super-duper no allergens are getting through here filters are a pet peeve of mine.  They starve the unit of air and make the system inefficient.  It's a great idea in theory, but it's a dude in practice.

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

And to see no chewing gum here, Tom.  Exceptionally disturbing!    ;>)

Brian - engineers should have to use stuff for a year before it goes on the market!

E&C - kind of a love'm and leave'm installation?

Michele - someone needs to install it correctly!  I'm not sure I trust the original guy, would you?

Tammie - this is an older house, with a newer system.  Nobody is going to follow up on a new install, except perhaps a home inspector one day in the future!

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

Tamara - and we don't!  Without photos I think people would not believe me half the time!

Jeffrey - people don't understand - HVAC systems are more about returning than blowing air!

Gregory - what's stolen and who's the thief?

Steven - who's going to control the quality?  The installation company is locally well known!  And by me in more ways than one.

Bob - I have seen this company's work in many places.

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

Makes sense to me J&M.  I sure enjoyed the cool air while I was up there!

Good luck with that one Gay!

Bill - not a bad idea.  But I doubt he would so condescend!

Athina - on an older house like this ony the installer is going to check his work!  Most homeowners would not know who to call for a check up!

Kristin - installing new requires a permit here, but replacement no.

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

Thanks Brad.  I always call'em like I see'em.

Nail hit on head Mark.  Again.

Lisa - boy, would that have been a bad day!  The PFs?  Damaged?  Nooooo!

Mike - what they filter they do well.  Just not enough air volume to make a real difference.  And they clog easily!

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

Of course the first person to come in mind would be Uncle Bob but apparently you know this person so it couldn't be him. 

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

Even he wouldn't do this one James!

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

That reall yis dangerous, geez. Couple the danger with the shoddy workmanship and I would be pulling my hair out if that were my house.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) about 7 years ago

And I counted 8 - 10 major, and a multiplicity of minor, roof leaks Justin!  And all three dormer windows, opening to that attic space, were leaking!

And if you see "him" on the back of the truck, don't forget to wave.

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

Jay, I was just on an inspection where I could not get into the attic due to the HVAC duct blocking hte access. Well I could get in if I wanted to play Mr Squishy on the duct. I  wonder about these installers sometimes.

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

Apparently the installer weighed 110 pounds Don!

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

Jay, HVAC units are intimidating.  Clients often ask me about the HVAC condition.  Of course, I advise the inspection will turn up any issues.  But I can't count the times that an HVAC unit has rust spots on the exterior or simply looks a little rough.  And in my location, the majority of homes are 10 years old or newer. 

Posted by Christopher Campa, Northern VA Realtor (LONG & FOSTER REAL ESTATE) about 7 years ago

This system is new but in bad condition Chris.  Rust outside does not necessarily mean things aren't working well inside though.

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

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