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Do you inspect the heat exchanger?

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I had a gentleman come up to my vehicle, he saw my signs and sued if I had a minute. He wanted to know if I routinely looked inside the heat exchanger on forced air units. I told him no, not unless there is a opening I can get my camera into. He expedites the move in and out of properties, a concierge service of sorts. He proceeded to tell me of the problems another inspector caused him. Apparently the inspector removed something in order to get a look inside the heat exchanger. In the process he disconnected a hose. He thought to the humidifier

but I suspect to the condensate pump.

It was a week before the seller noticed water in the basement. It had run to a carpeted area and soaked the rug. The furnace repair cost him about 1200 because the circuit board also got fried in the process. The inspector claimed he did nothing wrong and refused to pay.

How far do you go when inspecting a furnace?

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I've never pulled a blower to inspect a heat exchanger, but then I live down south where AC's are used much more than heaters. It ain't worth the risk of breaking something.

I've pulled hundreds as a contractor.


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The only thing I'll ever remove is the flame shield on the older style furnaces. I'll get on my knees and bend my neck to look up into each section of the exchanger. I might find 1 hole /crack a year. I look at the flame pattern and color. I'll sometime use the birthday candle trick. I use to use a mirror but have not for a long time. I don't see why a condensate drain would have to be removed to look at anything and I would never remove it.

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Harsh reality is there's no way to actually perform a complete heat exchanger inspection without field stripping furnace; can't be done.

If it's an older type that's actually accessible with mirrors or cameras, I still don't look at it. I tell people it's ancient, I'd bet a tooth it's got a crack somewhere, if it doesn't it will in short order, and it's inefficient as hell. I tell them they should replace it, the sooner the better.

I'm much more concerned with just about everything than I am the heat exchanger. It's a piece of equipment; equipment breaks, it can be replaced.

All the other stuff, air flow, function, etc., can't be fixed.

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I had a gentleman come up to my vehicle, he saw my signs and sued if I had a minute.

Lots of liability in this business when they sue for seeing your signs! Must have some really UGLY signs!


My Pentax W90 camera can get into almost any filter slot to get a shot of the coils. Blower Fan pics are easy.

Click to Enlarge


Click to Enlarge


The main blower fan blades are dirty and the coils are partially blocked with crud. This impedes the operating efficiency of the unit. Get a good heating and cooling contractor to pull out the coils and fan, clean them and reinstall them.

On the topic of heat exchangers:


Note: Furnace heat exchangers are not readily accessible. Disassembling the furnace, which should only be done by a heating and cooling contractor, is necessary for proper inspection of the heat exchanger. Disassembling the furnace is beyond the scope of this inspection.


I used to say HVAC Contractor until I remember back to the days when I didn't have a single dang clue what the heck HVAC stood for.


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