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  1. #1

    If you could tell a home inspector anything....

    I'm sure lots of you may have encoutered home inspectors either critiquing your work or asking for an evaluation. I know that as an inspector, I've had plenty of conversations with HVAC pros (typically very helpful, not confrontational) that cause me to reasearch more and learn more about HVAC systems and operation. But I am, by no means, an expert.

    It strikes me, that this is a great forum to ask your thoughts as a community on things you wish all inspectors knew, or would look for, or had a better understanding of - so that I can better myself (and hopefully pass on some helpful advice to other inspectors)

    So: if you could pass on some advice or infomration that would help you (as well as us), what would it be?

    Keep in mind that we (inspectors) are not HVAC pros or experts, and we are only supposed to perform a perfunctory visual inspection and operational test of HVAC equipment

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Bethel Park, PA
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    103
    Keep in mind that we (inspectors) are not HVAC pros or experts, and we are only supposed to perform a perfunctory visual inspection and operational test of HVAC equipment


    I think you said it. I think it would be great to take an hvac tech on an inspection with you. Many times I go to newly purchased homes and find things out of order, sometimes severly, and hear "The home inspection said everything is in good shape. Doing a visual inspection of a system tells very little. You can't know about the true health of a system without measurements. And I don't just mean delta t of the equipment. Add it to your price and work it out with a local contractor. You can mark it up
    (or not) and relieve yourself of any and all liability.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    burlington county n.j.
    Posts
    9,763
    rule #1 for inspectors should be......... if you don't know what you're talking about keep your mouth SHUT..

    rule #2 not every a/c system should have a 20deg spit all the time.......

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta GA area
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    21,709
    Quote Originally Posted by joemichalski View Post

    Keep in mind that we (inspectors) are not HVAC pros or experts, and we are only supposed to perform a perfunctory visual inspection and operational test of HVAC equipment
    This pretty well says it IMO.

    Around my area, the inspectors state that the buyer should have a licensed HVAC pro do a thorough inspection of the equipment and operation.

    Folks in my area seem to understand that the HVAC system is too complicated to inspect in a few minutes along with the whole home.

    I have done quite a lot of HVAC inspections for buyers. And yeah, I always find things the HI does not... just the nature of the job.

    I think this system (HI and HVAC guy) is a good deal for the HO.
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Quality work at a fair price with excellent customer service!

    Romans Ch's 5-6-7-8

    2 Chronicles 7:14

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,586
    In our area, most inspectors find nit picking things like single wall 5.5" to combusibles not 6" but ignore single wall pipe in a garage. They'll find a missing drip leg but not notice an unlined chimney that could susceptible to thousands of dollars in damage. Or find a 40 amp breaker instead of a 30 but not mention the new outdoor unit on a 30 year old evap.

    If you guys are going to critique this stuff in customers homes, learn as much as you can about it. Good start coming here

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by bkcalhoun View Post
    I think it would be great to take an hvac tech on an inspection with you. Add it to your price and work it out with a local contractor. You can mark it up (or not) and relieve yourself of any and all liability.
    Not a bad thought at all - I might try to add it as an "upgrade" inspection so that those willing to pay for it can get it. The only issue I forsee is scheduling problems... We often get 1-3 days lead time for inspections, and I am not sure that would fit most contractors' time frame. But I like the thought process.

    As for the other thoughts - it is always best not to comment when you don't know. That's how liability issues are created. As for the temp. diff, I have heard that before and typically only offer the info as one part of the picture that may shed light on the system's operaton (not as the be-all and end-all of diagnostics).

    Thanks! Keep the thoughts coming!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Poestenkill, NY
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    769
    Quote Originally Posted by bkcalhoun View Post
    I think you said it. I think it would be great to take an hvac tech on an inspection with you. Many times I go to newly purchased homes and find things out of order, sometimes severly, and hear "The home inspection said everything is in good shape. Doing a visual inspection of a system tells very little. You can't know about the true health of a system without measurements. And I don't just mean delta t of the equipment. Add it to your price and work it out with a local contractor. You can mark it up
    (or not) and relieve yourself of any and all liability.
    My friend and I do home inspections - he is a PE (structural), and I am a ME (no license yet). It's not all that profitable, where we would have a lot of flexibilty in the budget to bring more people with us.

    HI is a very competitive trade. You can't just "bring along an HVAC tech and charge more".

    How much would you expect this tech to charge to accompany a home inspector? Between travel, the inspection, documentation, etc, it can easily eat up 4 hours of his time.

    It's tough to add $150 dollars to a $300 or $400 service and expect to stay competitive.

    Don't get me wrong, It's a good thought, but difficult to implement out there in the real world.

    And it's not like all HVAC techs are created equal either. From this forum, and from people I met, I have observed that people in the HVAC industry have a w i d e range of knowledge, ranging from being pin sharp to bowling ball sharp.

    All this being said - it is frustrating to hear what some home inspectors will give two thumbs up to. There are definately some people in this field that shouldn't be. But - that goes for every trade.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by BaldLoonie View Post
    In our area, most inspectors find nit picking things like single wall 5.5" to combusibles not 6" but ignore single wall pipe in a garage. They'll find a missing drip leg but not notice an unlined chimney that could susceptible to thousands of dollars in damage. Or find a 40 amp breaker instead of a 30 but not mention the new outdoor unit on a 30 year old evap.

    If you guys are going to critique this stuff in customers homes, learn as much as you can about it. Good start coming here
    Good info! I know that my own evaluation of chimneys and flue pipes could stand to be better - something important to work on.

    Quick Q about your last point: What is the outside age differential between components that should raise a red flag? Also, why would an HVAC pro put in a new system with a 30 year old one? (buyer's orders, or is that a homeowner special?)

    Thanks!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by larobj63 View Post
    It's tough to add $150 dollars to a $300 or $400 service and expect to stay competitive..
    Exactly - but I think that it can be offered as an upgrade for clients who are concerned about the HVAC. What kind of time would be needed to evaluate a central air and gas forced air system? 4 hours seems like a lot. If we could hit the importnat components in a more limited time frame and keep the cost competitive (I don't need to upcahrge on the HVAC guy's $), then it may be something that my more high end (or overly worried) clients might find value in.

    Good point also about who is involved, both as an inspector and HVAC pro.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Poestenkill, NY
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    769
    Quote Originally Posted by joemichalski View Post
    4 hours seems like a lot.
    Between travel, the inspection, documentation, etc, it can easily eat up 4 hours of his time.


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lincoln, Nebraska
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    1,051
    I don't think that HI should look at the HVAC system at all unless they are trained and licenced. They should just note on there report that it was no inspected and should be inspected by a HVAC proffesional.

    The reason for this is that these homeowners take your report to be complete and true. I have been to a job where the heat exchanger had a softball size hole in it and the guy turned it right back on after I turned it off and said the house was inspected a month ago and the HI said the furnace was fine.

    Its just one example as to how the homeowner perseves the HI. If you can;t do a job all the way then just stay away from it.
    Its a good Life!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Poestenkill, NY
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    Please know that there is a lot of language in most reports that limit the liability of the inspection, and the scope of the inspection.

    You're right that people will cling on the every word of the inspector, and I'm sure there are countless stories of "HI approved" items that should have been red-tagged, but those of us in the HI field that are smart are very up-front about the limits of the inspection and our liability. And I agree if you don't know about it, don't talk (or worse, write) about it.

    I look at it like this: the HI is like the family doctor - if he or she sees anything alarming, we say consult the specialist. And even things that we may be expert in, we are careful about giving advise on them as an HI. We're not offering design services or "how to's" on fixing things, just an informed look at all of the systems in the home, and what items are concerning from our inspection...

    lol - I know there is a much for me to learn about homes and each system in a home - but the majority of the people we have done inspections for truelly benifit from our work - because they really have no idea what they are looking at, and need someone with mechanical, electrical and structural knowledge to tell them.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    1,112
    Home inspectors should not even attempt to inspect a buildings electrical or mechanical systems at all. What we has pros that have devoted major parts of our lives learning, are very difficult for HI to grasp. The only thing the should do is note one the report that there is a system or not. My buddy got screwed last week when he signed the papers for his new house. The HI report said house was 100 amp service with breakers. Not it's fuses and only rated at 60 amps. The HI saw an 100 amp box and did not inspect any more. Since I am looking into buying a different house I am doing my own inspections.

    To sum it all up Home inspectors should not even attempt to inspect a buildings electrical or mechanical systems at all.

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