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Home Inspector HVAC Knowledge Survey


house-smart
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Calling All Home Inspectors:

We’ve all come across snot-nosed, barely graduated high school, HVAC tradesmen that think they know it all and we lowly home inspectors know nothing. Fortunately they are the minority, while the majority of HVAC practitioners and contractors (company owners) I have met are consummate professionals.

However, the other day I got a nasty letter from a Client because of one of those little snot-noses. I had recommended fan coil cleaning in the heat pump cabinet. I even included a nice picture of the dirty fan coils. The HVAC kid laughed at her and said he couldn't get to the coils to clean them without evacuating the system and taking the fan coil cabinet all apart (closed A-coil). She was most upset because he laughed at her, not from the fact she would be needlessly wasting electricity over the next how many years. She accused me of being technically stupid (that’s what the kid said in so many words). After my wife managed to get my claws out of the ceiling I wrote her back and asked if she had even for a minute considered that the kid was the dummy. How did she think I took the picture of the dirty fan coils if they were not accessible for cleaning? I haven't heard back from her.

I sense there is a disconnect between what we as home inspectors know and what HVAC practitioners think we know. Maybe we know more than we’re letting on or maybe we don’t know how to tell them. I have a goal to find some more common ground between home inspectors and the HVAC industry to our mutual benefit, and ultimately the benefit of our clients. As a starting point I am researching the level of home inspector knowledge in the area of HVAC. Like a politician the only way to determine what the populace thinks (or what they've been told to think) is to conduct a poll. But unlike a politician I intend to listen and to do something useful with the survey results (I’m not trying to get re-elected).

I invite you to help by completing a survey that will attempt to identify the current level of inspector training and the knowledge base of electric powered, Freon cycle, heat pumps and air conditioners. The survey is at the following website: www.hs2.us (Don't try my regular website because this one is set up just for the survey of home inspectors.) The accumulated data will help me prepare technical articles for home inspection and talk to industry professionals on the HVAC side. This knowledge will also help me finalize a seminar presentation for the NAHI Annual Education Conference, in late Feb, on the subject of Advanced Heat Pumps and Air Conditioning. (By the way, what do I know about heat pumps? Even though I’ve had advanced training and inspected and tested over 2500 heat pumps—found more than a couple of problems—there is a lot more I want to learn, with your help.)

NOTE: I know only a small percentage of those who read this Forum every post to it. So its time for you lurkers to step up to the plate and complete the survey, you don’t even have to log in here.

Thanking you in advance for the help.

John Wells

HOUSE-SMART Inc.__We're Smarter About Houses [:-graduate]

www.h-s.bz

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'Sorry, John, but I don't understand what the 'disconnect' is. At least not based upon your anecdote. That story was simply a sorry about a young technician who covered himself in a smokescreen of bad mouthing his competition (you). I find that badmouthing the competition is frequently the behavior of choice for contractors of any kind. "That xxxx should never have been installed sideways like that.It'll ruin your xxxxx." So, not understanding what the disconnect is, I further don't understand the point of asking HI's about how much they know about HVAC stuff. Maybe I'm just being thick.

-David Lee

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I went to take the survey, but didn't as I (literally) never see a heat pump, & approx. 1/2 of the properties I look @ are hydronic.

The survey didn't take into account the multitude of heating & cooling components an HI might see. Given the proliferation of technologies (radiant, air, water, solar, steam, etc.), you might want to make your surveys more specific. Personally, I would be quite interested in the results of your surveys.

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Dlee:

You've answered your own question about the "disconnect" by saying that we're considered the competition by a HVAC technician. Thanks for making my point. We are not the competition and should not be considered such. We are co-professionals who help identify problems in heat pumps and AC systems. Anyway I've reworded the original post. See if it makes any more sense (or less).

Kurt:

I appreciate you checking in on the survey. Actually I thought it was very specific as to the information I need at this point. For now I'm just interested in heat pumps and central AC systems. No heat pumps in the "big dirty" (I think that was your desciption in a long ago post)? How strange?

John

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Originally posted by house-smart

Kurt:

I appreciate you checking in on the survey. Actually I thought it was very specific as to the information I need at this point. For now I'm just interested in heat pumps and central AC systems. No heat pumps in the "big dirty" (I think that was your desciption in a long ago post)? How strange?

John

Nope, no heat pumps in the Big Dirty; don't forget to capitalize proper names [:-eyebrows].

I honestly wouldn't know how to look @ one or how to report it. OTOH, I can look @ a million+ BTU 80 year old steam boiler, know what the issues are, how much it would cost to retube it, weld in endplates, & revent & balance a large steam heat apt. building.

Things like heat pumps just confuse the hell out of me. You have my permission to use me as a statistic in your survey though; consider me worthless on nearly every question of your survey [:-paperbag]icon_speech_duh.gif.

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