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The CO detector in the basement was placed near an open window and that is why it did not go off or so says the fire dept. No CO detectors upstairs. Tragic.

Once a year I shoot an email to all my past clients asking them to make sure they have working smoke and CO detectors installed. It might be time to send off another email with this article.

Alot of people think when they start to chirp you are supposed to take it down and put it in a drawer.

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It's a real tragedy, that's for sure; however, I bet they'll find that they hadn't had any maintenance done on that boiler forever. Their quote,

Ahmed said no work was done recently on the boiler. Officials said the boiler was older. "It was the same boiler we had, it was working perfectly, then all of a sudden like a car, cars break down," he said.
says it all.

I've encountered a mindset among Asian homeowners that if something is working "pefectly" it obviously doesn't need maintenance; and it's amazing the amount of neglect I find with some of these systems. Then when I point the issues out in the report I often hear back from the client how the seller steadfastly refused to correct some of these issues because, "They've never had a problem with the system the entire time they've lived there."

I'm not saying all Asians are like this - heck there are a helluva lot of American homeowners who're the same way - but I seem to encounter more with this mindset than I do the opposite where everything is in tip-top maintenance wise and every T has been crossed and every I has been dotted as per manufacturer's specs or even generally acknowledged average maintenance recommendations.

I think it has something to do with cultural unfamiliarity with these systems.

Wonder if Grandfather lived in that room above the boiler room and if his "heart failure" might have been a redflag for the rest of the family if anyone had thought to check?

Years ago, I had a house with a backdrafting gas fireplace. The homeowner was sick and was home during the inspection, laying there on the sofa in front of the TV. "Do you guys use this fireplace a lot?" I asked. "Oh yes, this is my wife's favorite room," said the husband, "She naps in here all the time and spends most of her time in here and runs that fireplace constantly. She likes to keep this room toasty (It was sweltering)." So, how is her health," I asked, "Has she been experiencing any headaches or flue-like symptoms?" I asked. "Yeah, she has. It comes and it goes and she never seems to be able to get over it. She's had migraines and has missed a lot of work due to it. We all have, actually but her most of all," he said. "How's her skin color - kind of pink," I asked. "Yeah, she has complained that she thought she was getting rosacea or something like that," he replied, "Why, what's up, what do you know that I don't know?" "This fireplace is backdrafting badly and the carbon-monoxide level in this room is very high - in fact (walking into the other room and watching my Monoxir), it's high in here too and it's probably high everywhere in the house. You need to shut this thing down and get your blood, your wife's blood, and all of your childrens' blood tested ASAP."

He did so. The next day I got a call from the listing agent telling me that the homeowner had taken the entire family to the emergency room to be tested and found that everyone in the house was suffering from various levels of C.O. accumulation in their blood - the wife most of all.

The little clamp he had on his damper was barely keeping it open and the stack had deteriorated so badly that at some point some idiot just knocked the deteriorated last few feet off the height and slathered some mortar around the top to form a crown, so the top of the stack was close to and lower than the ridge on the side opposite prevailing winds. Whenever the wind blew across the ridge the air tumbled down that vent and pushed the exhaust back into that house.

People see this stuff on the news year after year but I think it just goes right over the head of most folks.



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"Is it throwing heat? That's all you need to know."

That was an exchange I had with a seller's Realtor recently when I was telling the buyer that the furnace was dangerous. They were not Asian. It was the stupidest, most mind numbing thing anyone has ever said to me during an inspection.

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It's not inaccurate to generalize about Asians general non-interest in component maintenance; anyone traveling in Asia knows this. It embodies a number of interesting cultural tendencies, not the least of which is the binary thought model...there are managers and there are workers. Managers do not touch or monitor anything; they hire people to hang a picture on the wall. Workers tend to not own anything; why should they fix it? So, stuff gets overlooked. In this case, tragedy ensued.

Realtors, otoh, have no excuse.

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