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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
    Posts
    4

    House Fire Restoration-Flex Ducts Not Cleaned???

    Dear Knowledgeable HVAC Experts,

    I am in desperate need of your knowledge and advice! My home had a very destructive fire in June of 2010. The cause was electrical and started in the garage. Of course that is where I kept every caustic, flammable, incendiary thing known to mankind. The fire was so hot my Nissan Murano literally melted. The smoke and soot were deemed toxic.

    I live in Yuma, Arizona, it was summer, so of course my air conditioning was on. I believe the restoration company subbed the air conditioner cleaning out about a month after the fire. They had to wait until the house was emptied in September to clean the duct work. One third of my house has a flat roof and the rest is pitched. The flat areas have exterior metal ducts, all the pitched areas have flex ducts in the attic.

    My daughter and I both have autoimmune diseases so any chemicals used had to be approved by our physicians. Ozone, Thermofog, and whatever the HVAC contractor submitted were not approved. I was told they cleaned the metal ducts, but could not clean the flex ducts. The house still has a smoke odor. I went up in the attic because there is no air flowing to the back rooms of the house. I have addressed this with the restoration company and the HVAC sub numerous times. I noticed that while up in the attic all the insulation was original, pre-fire insulation. Also, I found the junction of crushed duct which is right next to where a ceiling was replaced.

    It has taken the restoration company over a year to restore my home, and it still is not finished. There was a bad thunderstorm the other night and water literally poured out of the air conditioning vent in my kitchen! The restoration company said it wasn't a vent leaking, but that it was from a roof leak.

    My question is if the flex ducts could not be cleaned then shouldn't they have been replaced? Shouldn't the insulation also have been replaced? And aren't air conditioning vents sealed to the ducts? If so how come water was pouring out of mine in the kitchen?

    I would really appreciate any advice on how to proceed and what is common practice with something like this.

    Thank You in Advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    18,397
    I think you need more than an HVAC guy. You need legal representation.

    If it were me in your shoes....

    An autoimmune condition is nothing to play around with. I would have the air handler cleaned, if not replaced. All flex duct would GO. I would get a referral for an outfit that cleans ducts in hospitals for the steel ducts. If they are just short lengths, I'd replace them too.

    Next up is an indoor air quality consultant. Tests and filtration upgrades. More tests. Remember, filtration cannot be permitted to strangle the system, so you need someone who is well versed in a near clean-room type system, because of your medical condition.

    You really should NOT be representing yourself in such a complex and sensitive situation.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist

    AOP Forum Rules:







  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western PA
    Posts
    25,579
    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond Girl View Post
    My home had a very destructive fire in June of 2010.

    >snip<

    It has taken the restoration company over a year to restore my home, and it still is not finished.
    See my comments below.

    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    I think you need more than an HVAC guy. You need legal representation.

    If it were me in your shoes....

    An autoimmune condition is nothing to play around with. I would have the air handler cleaned, if not replaced. All flex duct would GO. I would get a referral for an outfit that cleans ducts in hospitals for the steel ducts. If they are just short lengths, I'd replace them too.

    Next up is an indoor air quality consultant. Tests and filtration upgrades. More tests. Remember, filtration cannot be permitted to strangle the system, so you need someone who is well versed in a near clean-room type system, because of your medical condition.

    You really should NOT be representing yourself in such a complex and sensitive situation.
    timebuilder has given you excellent advice.

    What is a typical timeframe for a 'disaster cleanup' type job to take?

    I would contact a lawyer because some of what you are saying isn't adding up to me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Mount Airy, MD
    Posts
    7,281
    Quote Originally Posted by timebuilder View Post
    I think you need more than an HVAC guy. You need legal representation.

    If it were me in your shoes....

    An autoimmune condition is nothing to play around with. I would have the air handler cleaned, if not replaced. All flex duct would GO. I would get a referral for an outfit that cleans ducts in hospitals for the steel ducts. If they are just short lengths, I'd replace them too.

    Next up is an indoor air quality consultant. Tests and filtration upgrades. More tests. Remember, filtration cannot be permitted to strangle the system, so you need someone who is well versed in a near clean-room type system, because of your medical condition.

    You really should NOT be representing yourself in such a complex and sensitive situation.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,070
    Presumably your insurance paid for the repairs and remediation. You should speak to your insurance company first. But if you don't get an immediate commitment from them at this stage, seek legal advice.

    When you say autoimmune disease, do you mean allergies?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for the great advice so far. When I say we have auto-immune diseases I have Multiple Sclerosis & Krohn's Disease (Just diagnosed) My daughter has Lupus, Hashimoto's, Fibromyalgia, and Asberg's form of Autism. She has had these since she was 12. Neither of us have felt well since moving back into the house on June 13th.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    burlington county n.j.
    Posts
    9,741
    any time we have done a fire restoration ALL of the duct work and indoor equipment has been replaced.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
    Posts
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by t527ed View Post
    any time we have done a fire restoration ALL of the duct work and indoor equipment has been replaced.
    I feel like the restoration company is really giving me the shaft. They have re-installed old plugs, switches, vents, etc...I could go on and on. I've never had a house fire before so I don't know the process.

    I'm a veteran's widow, so perhaps I will start with a visit to the JAG office. Yuma has a small town "good old boys" mentality, and I doubt I could find a lawyer that would handle this sufficiently.

    Is there a HVAC guildline for fire restoration?

    I really appreciate all your advice.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    18,397
    My point was that you need legal guidelines, and not HVAC guidelines.

    The JAG should be able to get you in touch with a civvie attorney who is in the city, and can help you. The idea is to work with your insurance carrier from a position of strength.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist

    AOP Forum Rules:







  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Emerald Coast
    Posts
    934
    .
    You should not be living that house until they get everything right.
    ..

    ...
    Do not attempt vast projects with
    half vast experience and ideas.
    ...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    4,842
    I do fire investigations for insurance companies. Contact your adjuster first, then your attorney. Flex ducts need replaced as does every stitch of insulation that was exposed to smoke. There are other remediation processes that need done as well.
    A good HVAC tech knows how, an educated HVAC tech knows why!

    DEM


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
    Posts
    4
    I really appreciate your advice, although it is rather frightening. I was forced to move back into the house because my insurance only covers 12 months of displaced living. I'm not sure what to do. I have nowhere else to stay, and cannot afford to stay in a hotel. Unless any of you have any ideas maybe I need to post on a sick house syndrome forum?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    18,397
    We have explained what you have to do. Get that referral from the JAG, and have that attorney recommend alternative living arrangements while he goes to bat for you.
    [Avatar photo from a Florida training accident. Everyone walked away.]
    2 Tim 3:16-17

    RSES CMS, HVAC Electrical Specialist

    AOP Forum Rules:







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