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MMustola

Heating contractor at the home inspections

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At today's morning inspection a heating contractor showed up at the client's request. The Realtor suggested that a heating heating contractor would do a more indepth inspection on the furnace than I would. So far I have no problem with this. Plus, it's like a get out of jail free card regarding the furnace.

When the contractor was there I tried to remain within ear shot because I thought there might be a chance to learn a thing or two.

This is what I overheard:

The contractor found a pillow hanging out of in the combustion air make up vent. The client asked what the vent was for and all he said was " it's needed because you have a mid efficiency furnace. If you had a high efficiency furnace you would not need it". No mention of the fact that you would still need combustion air for the water heater.

Next, when he removed the blower door and the furnace stopped the client asked why that happened. The contractor told her "it is so you can not stick your hand in there and cut off your finger". There was no mention of the safety aspect of the blower possible sucking in combustion gases and possibly CO and blowing them Throughout the house.

And finally while he is kneeling in front of the furnace with the cover off and the data plate 12 inches in front of his face he says to the client "this furnace does not look to old. How old is the house" when she tells him the house is ten years old he says "it's probably the original furnace".

I honestly don't think he knew to look at the data plate. For a grand total of $60 all he did was turn up the thermostat, removed the front covers, and make a few stupid comments. He did not even bring any tools into the house'

The saddest part about the whole thing was that the Realtor was so impressed that she asked him for some business cards because she was "looking for a good heating contractor to refer".

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As my wife says, it wasn't a choice between 'heating tech' and 'brain surgeon' for this guy.... It is what it is..

I saw a bumper sticker in traffic the other day: "What am I, flypaper for idiots?"

That should be the motto of home inspectors... How often do we find improper wiring, HVAC work, plumbing, flashing missing, etc..

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Next, when he removed the blower door and the furnace stopped the client asked why that happened. The contractor told her "it is so you can not stick your hand in there and cut off your finger". There was no mention of the safety aspect of the blower possible sucking in combustion gases and possibly CO and blowing them Throughout the house.

What if it were a 95% furnace pulling combustion air from the outside, would that still matter?

The blower door safety switch is there as a safety protection device (more for Mr/Ms Homeowner) - and to be honest I don't think the suction power of the blower would overcome the chimney with all things being equal.

If you feel that the tech was derelict in duty you should call his company and inform his supervisor of the fact, I'm sure the owner of the company would like to know.

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Here is and except from a furnace manual I had on hand. I sure I can find others if I take the time to look.

BLOWER DOOR INTERLOCK SWITCH

The purpose of the switch is to disconnect electrical power to the furnace should the blower door

become dislodged, removed, or not properly reinstalled such as performing a filter change.

ALLOWING THE FURNACE TO OPERATE WITHOUT THE BLOWER DOOR BEING

SECURELY IN PLACE CAN CAUSE COMBUSTION PRODUCTS TO BECOME CIRCULATED

THROUGHOUT THE LIVING AREA WHICH CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS OR CARBON

MONOXIDE POISONING. To test the operation of this switch, place the furnace in operation and

remove the blower access door. The burner flames will extinguish and the venter and circulating

air blowers should both stop. To restore the unit to normal operation, shut off the electrical power

to the unit, replace the blower access door and restore the electrical power.

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Well the question still remains, if the furnace drew in combustion air from the outside would it matter?

And again, I will restate, if you believe that the technician was derelict in duty then shouldn't you inform his supervisors? You own your company, if you had a loose cannon, spreading misinformation, wouldn't you want to be made aware?

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If all you had was a furnace with sealed combustion drawing air from the outside, then yeah It would not matter.

In this area 99% of all houses have the water heater right next to the furnace. Electric water heaters are almost unheard of. So we still have a concern of a furnace running without the blower door drawing in combustion gases from the water heater.

I have seen many furnaces with loose fitting blower compartment doors that would not keep the interlock switch depressed. In most cases the home owners have disabled the switch. This is a serious safety issue that I think should be reported.

As far as the blower over coming the draw of the flue, I have seen a couple of houses were the bathroom exhaust fan would depressurize house and cause a water heater or furnace to back draft.

I am not out to correct all wrong doings so I did not complain to the contractors boss. For all I know he is the boss. He did not harm me or the client, or damage the furnace. He just did a laughable job. I thought some of you would identify with my experience and enjoy the story.

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As far as the blower over coming the draw of the flue, I have seen a couple of houses were the bathroom exhaust fan would depressurize house and cause a water heater or furnace to back draft.

Wow - I've never seen that. I'll have to keep that on my to-do list.

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As far as the blower over coming the draw of the flue, I have seen a couple of houses were the bathroom exhaust fan would depressurize house and cause a water heater or furnace to back draft.

I've never had that one, but always warn my clients of that risk with whole house fans if proper intake air (open windows) isn't provided. I'm a firefighter also and have ran numerous carbon monoxide alarm activations caused by that. Last one was still over 400ppm when we arrived. I just can't fathom a bath vent fan could do it.

Have also found downdrafting with furnace blower operating in an improperly balanced system, usually when a basement's been finished where they've made changes to the ductwork (I always have the furnace blower operating with the door to the basement closed when I check for downdraft on the water heater, especially if it is trying to pull itself closed).

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