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You gotta know when to shut the f#*k up

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I had one of those "Sellers" Friday.

The Clients were a young Indian couple buying a 10 year old townhome. Clients father-in-law was an engineer and told me he had bought and sold homes for the entire family since he was the oldest. "I learn many things everytime we sell a home, I see what inspector write up and learn to look for it on homes I buy" He was an old fart but fun to be around.

I never realized how much stuff I write up. The Client is an anal type who had put all the discrepancies into a spread sheat and numbered them. 68 items on a 2100 sf townhome.

I'm an hour late due to traffic. This does not put me in a good mood. Clients and Sellers are waiting on me. The Clients give me their list of stuff and only wanted about 20 things re inspected including the electrical (bad GFCI's and oversized breakers), HVAC, windows and some framing stuff.

Anyhow, to start with we had no sediment traps at the gas appliances.

"My plumber says they are not required inside the city" the Seller stated

"It's a catch 22" I told him "The city code says they're not required but the Manufacturer does. The city also says the manufacturer's installations instructions supercede code. They should have been on here."

"Well my plumber says he never puts them on"

"I don't doubt that" I said

"I bet the majority of people don't have them on the appliances" the Seller said

"You and your plumber would be wrong"

Next we go to the windows that had been caulked shut. They must have used several tubes of caulk on those windows. The entire perimeter, sash and trough had caulk in them. I wrote them up and someone, I assume the Seller, took something and chiseled off the caulk. It looked like he used a dull hatchet! It was bad. The frames had the heck scarred out of them. My clients asked me what I thought.

"Looks like crap" I said.

I doubt there's any weather seal on them. Get you own window guy out here to take a look at them and see what he says.

Then off to the Kitchen and bathrooms we go to check on the bad GFCI's I'd found. 2 were still there. "They worked when the electrician was here, I was with him and saw them work" the Seller chimed in.

"Well, they didn't the first time I was here and they don't now, they're still broke and still in need of replacement"

The entire re-inspect went this way. A few things were fixed, many weren't and the Seller had an excuse or tried to imply that I didn't know what I was doing.

We then came to the Electrical Panel. There were still 50 amp breakers for the A/C's where 30 amps should have been.

I pointed this out to my Clients and the Seller basically screamed "My electrican and HVAC guy both said if you lower the breaker to 30 amps they will trip off in the summer. He said that some kind of amps are high on start up and they had to have a bigger breakers to keep from tripping"

That was the straw.

"Well, I'm glad you just told us that. Your HVAC guy just admitted to you that there is a problem with both the HVAC units on start up. If the amps are so high that the trip a maximum sized breaker at start up, then somethings very wrong." I then turned to my Client and advised him to get his own HVAC guy out there to look at both those units.

I don't think he liked me much after that.

As my Clients were paying me, I heard Pappa telling the Seller that they would be requiring an inspection of the electrical and HVAC by their own specialist this time and that they were going to talk to their Realtor because "we can not be expected to pay for all these repairs that were not done, I think we'll have to renogiate the contract."

Sometimes, it helps to know when to shut up!

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The breakers were a 50 amps but the maximum stated on the data sheet was 30 amps.

Kurt, I'm not sure "why" the breaker was oversized but I figured its a lack of communication between the electrician and HVAC dude. I find many breakers for A/C equipment oversized. The electricians "guesstimate" what size breaker the A/C guy will need and the A/C guy never worries about what size is in the panel.

I don't look at the amp ratings very often (RLA). This is something I've been trying to do more often, espcially on older units. I think the Seller was saying that the HVAC techie was telling him the amps were so high on start up that they would trip a 30 amp breaker. At least that's how I took it.

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I've complained about this before, but the *%@#$*> manufacturers almost invariably name an inbetween breaker size as the max. They won't say 30 or 40, they'll say 35 or 45. Ever tried to pick up 25, 35, or 45 amp breaker anywhere? Good luck. So that frequently puts the installer in the position of choosing to go a little over or a little under, and we know which one is likely to mean less call-backs. I think the manufacturers do it on purpose.

Brian G.

It's A Conspiracy! [:-alien]

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I, too, see this all the time. Danny is right. The older units required much more power, and the installers of the new equipment never bother to check the breaker size in the panel. The reasoning I always use is, "Would you rather trust the engineers at Carrier who designed and built the condenser, or your local HVAC tech and electrician who're telling you the engineers are wrong?" Also, if the condenser is five years old or less, installation of a missized breaker can void the warranty.

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I had asimilar situation yesterday with a range only i didn't think to look at manufacturers plate. I was examining the panel and I realized that the range was on a 10-2 wg romex with a fifty amp breaker. I put my amprobe on just for fun and with all burners on high and the oven on bake 350 I was getting 40.8 amps. Sellers said, "yeah, but how often is that gonna happen." I said often enough and wrote that the wire was two small and at the very least the breaker was oversized. Turns out that the house used to have a split range and oven but during a remodel they changed to a free-standing range without increasing wire size.


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