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Sitting here reading this, and just trying to word something to this person, that won't completely insult them. Direct vent fireplace.

"Missing fireplace blower, as part of the heating system: The gas fireplace has a recessed area behind a vent for a fireplace blower. None was installed. This is a heating, electrical and safety issue. Your omission was a glaring and material oversight in your report, and one that has and will directly cost me money because it was not operating efficiently for two winters until the missing fan was detected recently."

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Emotions might be playing a larger role here than the facts but emotions alone can translate into a lot of dollars changing hands in this gig.

I'd consider an offer to return the inspection fee in return for a release of liability and see if that will chill the client, but only because of apparent emotional state on his behalf, no reflection on you at all Rob.

Marc

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I agree. Educate them. It's not a mandated part of an operational fireplace. It's an option.

I certainly don't list every missing option on every appliance.

It is NOT a a heating, electrical or safety issue. The fireplace operates just fine without it. Doesn't put out as much heat but that's an optional addition.

Write the insulting one first, get it out of your system, then edit it to remove the insulting part but leave the education part.

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Agreed

I agree. Educate them. It's not a mandated part of an operational fireplace. It's an option.

I certainly don't list every missing option on every appliance.

It is NOT a a heating, electrical or safety issue. The fireplace operates just fine without it. Doesn't put out as much heat but that's an optional addition.

Write the insulting one first, get it out of your system, then edit it to remove the insulting part but leave the education part.

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Gosh, I bet a new blower fan would cost in the high 2 figures. Installed. Sheesh.....

I wouldn't sweat it other than to try to smooth things over. I'd apologize, but it would be a minimal one lamenting the misunderstanding.

I would explain it's not a heating, electrical, or safety issue. It's not part of the central heating equipment. If it's not there, it can't be an electrical issue. The fireplace works just fine without it so it's not a safety issue. Thank you for letting me know, etc., etc., goodbye.

No way would they be getting the fee back.

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If you recorded the make and model of that fireplace, get a copy of the listed instructions and show them where the convection fan is an option. If you really want to go the extra mile, look up the nearest dealer for that brand and provide their contact information to the homeowner. Then tell them to knock themselves out.

If you remove the convection blower in a furnace, it will trip out on high limit rather quickly because it is designed as a primary heating system. Gas fireplaces are tested and listed either as "decorative" and listed under ANSI Z21.50 or as "vented room heaters" under ANSI Z21.88. The listings require language in the instructions stating these units are NOT to be considered as primary heating devices. When they roar about lost money from reduced heating efficiency ask them why they operated a combustion appliance without reading the listed instructions, which is negligence on their part. A fireplace is not a necessity. It is a luxury item. I would not give them anything more than what I stated above and wish them well.

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Unless furnace rated (very unlikely), the direct vent fireplaces are typically known as a decorative appliance.

E-mail them back letting them know you were saving them on their electric bill by not recommending one be installed, and that if they are looking to improve their home's efficiency, they should remove the unit and patch up the big hole in the wall.

Then request they share in the savings on the electric bill, including interest, for the last couple of years, and bill them for your time in formulating a response.

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I agree with the others who would not offer a fee refund. I too would politely explain the item as an option. As a matter of fact, during the inspection I always tell the client if there is no blower and show them the data plate and model number of the unit. I tell them they can usually obtain the manual online and get information on optional accessories such as blowers, remotes, etc....

I never report lack of a blower. If a blower is present but not working, I do report that.

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#1. Be nice, even though they do not deserve it.

#2. Get as much information about the unit as possible and get the documentation to prove that the fan is optional and not required.

#3. Give this information to the client and what for an apology.

#4. Don't hold your breath waiting for an apology.

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I'd also like to know--does the addition of a blower increase the efficiency of a gas fireplace? It seems like a blower might increase the airflow around the unit and into the room, perhaps improving air mixing in the room a bit, but like Jim is asking, if there isn't a blower, where does the waste heat go? Is it hotter inside the opening where the fireplace is installed, and more heat is lost through the back wall as a result?

If he can show you published specs for that unit that show higher efficiency with a blower running (and that has to include the electricity), then he might have something.

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. . . Doesn't put out as much heat but that's an optional addition.

Is that really true? Or does it just transfer the heat to the air more quickly with the blower?

If it doesn't put out as much heat, where does the heat go, if not into the room? Out the vent?

I'd say it's true. The fireplace is putting out heat at a constant rate. That rate doesn't change based on a blower or not; it depends only on the burner size/configuration and maybe gas pressure.

So if heat is being created at a constant rate, then you pretty quickly get to a stead state condition where heat into room plus heat up flue equals heat being created. Heat into room is mostly by radiation. If you add a blower and bring some heat into the room by convection then you've altered the basic equation of total heat = room + flue. But you haven't changed the value of total heat, so you've only changed the values of room and flue.

Everything here is a rate (a function of time) so if it transfers heat to the air more quickly with the blower then you get heat in the room at a higher rate and you get heat up the flue at a lower rate.

Eventually you'd get heat into the room at such a high rate and heat up the flue at such a low rate that you could use a PVC flue. Then you'd call it a high efficiency furnace.

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. . . Everything here is a rate (a function of time) so if it transfers heat to the air more quickly with the blower then you get heat in the room at a higher rate and you get heat up the flue at a lower rate. . .

Of course. But even without the blower, there's quite a bit of convection going on. These things are designed to have air enter in the bottom, rise up the back, and flow out the front. The blower just increases the air flow. But does it increase it enough to have a measurable effect on overall heat transfer?

Does anyone here own one of these things with a blower? I'd love to see someone stick a thermometer in the exhaust terminal and compare exhaust temperatures with the blower on and off.

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...Does anyone here own one of these things with a blower? I'd love to see someone stick a thermometer in the exhaust terminal and compare exhaust temperatures with the blower on and off.

I don't own one but it stands to reason that the greater air flow that a blower would provide would lower the temperature on the blower side of the heat exchanger, increasing the temperature differential across the exchanger which would mean more heat is crossing the exchanger and entering the room.

It's the same reason why the colder air that results from a badly clogged evap coil on an AC doesn't mean greater cooling power. It means less because because when you factor in the reduced air flow, the btu/hr is actually less.

It's neither the temperature nor the air flow alone but the product of the two.

Marc

Edited.

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I have a direct vent w/o a fan with a provision for a fan. Stand over the vents and I'd guess convection is pulling a cheap bathroom fan of volume. The hotter the heat exchanger, the more convection because the hotter air is that much more buoyant.

I will hook a fan up and shoot stack temps before and after in the next few weeks.

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I have a direct vent w/o a fan with a provision for a fan. Stand over the vents and I'd guess convection is pulling a cheap bathroom fan of volume. The hotter the heat exchanger, the more convection because the hotter air is that much more buoyant.

I will hook a fan up and shoot stack temps before and after in the next few weeks.

Good man.

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Right, the fan will blow more air into the room, but that draws more cool air in off the floor, creating a draft.

If the air flow exceeds the heat potential, you are going to get cooler air out of the top vent. Not likely, but it could happen if the fan was incorrectly sized for the unit.

Re: fireplace testing, some use a single squirrel cage fan, some have two or four windmill fans, and some have fan speed controls to complicate things. Which fan to use, at what speed?

Robert, look at all the trouble and head scratching you have saved your client up to now, two winters worth at least. [:)]

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