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As Bad As I've Ever Seen


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Got to be a hero (sort of) this afternoon.

Widow, schoolteacher, single parent raising 3 kids, good folks. Renters; can't afford to buy. Complaints of chronic sickness' (one kid has developed Krones disease/doctor thinks it's mold related), headaches, lethargy, can't wake up in the morning, you all are probably already getting the idea.

Complete flue blockage; totally rusted out. 100% combustion backflow into house. Old auto flue damper; yeeesh. House is literally damp, condensation on windows, bsmt. moldy, & the attic out of control. Flue photos don't show the hundreds of pinholes & leaks. Landlord has insisted for last 2 years that he's had the furnace serviced and it's in fine condition. OOOPS.

I have never seen mold like this place; check out the attic. Photo's don't do it justice; it was about a 1/2" thick.

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Totally yucko, Kurt. I saw something similar, once, in a five-year-old house. I was completely baffled until the furnace fired and flue gases started roiling up from the attic floor. I kicked away the blown-in cellulose and discovered that the flue pipe was completely detached at one of its joints.

Ummm, of course then I sorta freaked out 'cause the attic was full of flue gases, which we know are primarily carbon dioxide, but of course I'm thinking worst-case-scenario . . . but that's another story.

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Minimal ventilation, but it's an old drafty house w/no plywood; I don't think lack of ventilation has a whole lot to do w/it. This furnace was putting out more moisture than I'd have ever thought possible.

The furnace was a piece of garbage, plain & simple. I didn't shut the gas off; it's about 15degF here right now. I did call my furnace tech & said do what you gotta do, but get over here NOW.

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Are some landlords just plain stupid or just plain greedy.

Do they take advantage of humans or do they not know any better.

If the renters get a Lawyer and a big chunk of his/her bank account that will go a long way towards the landlords education against stupidity.

It is hard to believe that a licensed HVAC company would say that the furnace and flue system was OK. Maybe Lawyer time for the HVAC guy also.

Paul Burrell

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It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Mitenbuler Man!!! Damned good work Kurt. [:-angel]

Gross negligence, fraud, endangerment...the potential list goes on and on. What a slimeball landlord. May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in his crotch, for starters. [:-crazy]

Brian G.

More Heros & Less Slimeballs Please God [:-batman]

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A Call To The Brethern

I feel compelled to shamelessly seize this opportunity to implore my HI brothers to always recommend low-level CO detectors to thier clients purchasing houses with any fuel-burning appliances. The $20 cheapos are only good for large CO problems like what Kurt found here. Chronic low-level CO poisoning is a much more common threat, particularly to children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems.

We like to believe that an important part of what we do (or should do) is working to protect our clients' safety and that of thier families. When it comes to CO we're very limited. We can look, feel, sniff, and even test while we're at the property, but that "snapshot in time" means little. The only meaningful protection is constant monitoring, and the best protection is low-level monitoring. I think there are two on the market now, but the only one I know about is the CO Experts model 2004 (I have one in my house and carry it when I work). It sells for around $120 - 130 at various places on the internet...not cheap, but it's real protection.

A few states are beginning to take CO seriously, passing long overdue laws requiring CO monitors the same way they require smoke detectors. I predict that we'll see the IRC add such a requirement somewhere down the line, and eventually (maybe before I'm dead) the low-level detectors will be the only ones accepted.

Get ahead of the curve on this one. Don't wait for some state or other governing body to bless the obvious need for a meaningful safety device where poison-producing machinery is at work every day. Go beyond the minumum or "adequate" solution to the best solution in your recommendations to your clients. Hopefully they'll follow through (if you know they have kids, lean on it some). Someday you might save a life or two and without even being there. [:-angel]

You can check the detector out at www.coexperts.com and they have a downloadable brocure at the bottom of the home page on the left. It's terribly written, full of sentence fragments and exclamation points, but the data is in there too. I've been printing the first page to include with reports, but I'm thinking of just doing a page on my own to improve the odds of a client actually buying one.

Sorry for the O'Handly-like post. [;)]

Brian G.

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My old timer's observation: This situation was brought to us by Kurt for comment, who did the right thing. Brian's post gave us some advice and his opinion. From start to finish of the topic, we got focused on what we really do everyday. Good inspectors are advocates and really do save people's lives as well as their money.

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