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Floor furnace help


zeb
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Most likely it will be original to the house. Look at the support under the house. Try to see if you can see how much rust and scaling is in the burn chambers. 99% chance it will need cleaning. I have also found the the flue pipes need attention on most of the floor furnace units, for whatever reason.

Look for trash in the big box the the unit is sitting in. They tend to be a collecting spot for all types of things.

Let you client know that they will burn you real bad if you step on the grate.

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Yep, it'll likely be filthy. Bring some paper towels, too, so you can wipe down the heat exchanger chambers. Those things typically develop cracks where the individual chambers connect to one another. Does anyone know what the little tubular thingies that connect the individual chambers are called?

John

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The secret is- it needs to be replaced. I usually find these old furnaces are in varying stages of deterioration- with heat exchanger corrosion, gas vent pipes are commonly perforated, back-pitched, the clearances to combustibles is typically not adequate and as the single wall vent is in an unconditioned space, should be type "B" gas vent by today's building standards and for fire safety.

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I agree with Robert. These things are almost always junk. Like everything, there are exceptions, but most have never been maintained, with everything from kid's toys to earrings in the box. Vents are nearly always improper. Plus, like all space heaters, they simply don't do a good job of heating the home. Recommend upgrading to a central heating system.

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[:-yuck]Hate those things!![:-yuck][:-thumbd]

I have a chipped front tooth from when I was a youngster (about 6 yrs) and one of my Hot Wheels went off my improvised drag strip and got hung up on the register. Scrambled over on my hands and knees to retrieve it. Placed my right hand on the register as I extended my left to pick up the car...[:-weepn].

IMO, the dumb-[:-taped] manufacturers should have been forced to replace every last one of them. Don't know how many babies in their roll around walkers have got hung up on them and dang near toasted.

There. I feel a little better now.

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Yeah,

They get pretty hot. When I was really small, we lived in a home with one that blew up through a grate in the floor of the central hallway. I used to perch next to the grill and sit and stare at the red hot heat exchanger below. The dust burning off in the fall when the heat was first turned on was really rank and just about everything that hit the floor could end up on top of that exchanger. I really caught it for dropping one of my toy soldiers through that grate in order to see what it would be like to "toast in hell". It was pretty grousome watching that little fellow catch fire and melt. Then came the burning plastic smell and my mother with that paddle board and then....ouch!

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Jim is right - again!

The tone of this thread made me think a little bit about our attitudes. Specifically old is not always bad or wrong, we inspect what is there not necessarily what could or should be there. I, personally, have always had a tad of concern when asked to inspect to current "code" or even to what the "code" was when the house was built.

I think the best inspector does just that - inspects and reports as objectively as possible.

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And . . . even if an inspector fails a floor furnace, it isn't incumbent upon a seller to fork over the $$$ for central heat and all the concomitant ductwork involved. Failed floor furnace typically = new floor furnace, not an upgraded HVAC system. The buyer can negotiate, of course, for some cash to put toward central heat and air, but said buyer doesn't always have the extra thousands of dollars to complete the upgrade.

John

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Hmmmm...

Les,

I guess I agree with you, for the most part, regarding objectivity

we inspect what is there not necessarily what could or should be there
, except ...

I think there are times when an inspector should give the client something more than a simple "statement of condition" of the property.

Now, just how far beyond that simple statement of condition should be determined by the individual inspector, based on knowledge/confidence level, and will be somewhat determined by the client. I think it is obvious that clients pay for (and will continue to do so only if they see the value in) the "above and beyond average homeowner knowledge" that an HI should possess, and they have a right to expect you to give your opinion regarding some aspects of the property. Being objective does not preclude an HI from stating an opinion that has been arrived at by a rational examination of facts, nor should it keep one from including bits of "school of hard knocks" information (that would not be as evident to an inexperienced homeowner) in the report.

Am I wrong in that thinking? Should the report simply state that there "is a floor furnace and it is/isn't functioning properly"? I mean, sure, you can still buy the things and, maybe, they are still being installed in new homes somewhere...but they aren't what I would say the typical homeowner would be familiar with, especially if they are, say, a young couple buying their first home. I don't think I would feel comfortable giving just the mere statement of fact above. I would want to give them the benefit of both my personal experience and the logical downsides (less efficient, hot floor register) that would not be the case if the home had a more typical (modern) installation. Is that really beyond the scope of a professional home inspection? Is the inspector really not supposed to function in any kind of advisory capacity?

That's a real question, BTW.

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James, good question and a reasonable dialogue leading up to it.

My thoughts would include:

Why are you doing the inspection?

Why are they having you do the inspection? Different questions, the second means why you specifically?

Now, there are about ten thousand reasons for an inspection to be done and we all know most of them. We all have a COE or SOP that we follow, some good some bad and some worthless. But none I know, other than franchise training, include inspecting to help the potential buyer or seller directly formulate a financial decision. Sure they will ask for dollar figures "how much will that cost" and they may not purchase based on condition, but you as an inspector can not and are not a party to the contract. You could consult with them after looking, not inspecting, at the house and act as their advisor/advocate. The real problem is many new inspectors act and inspect as if they are the client's advocate. You are not their advocate if you are their inspector. Can't have it both ways.

Do I give them my "world famous opinion"? Yes I do. Would I mention all the things about this floor furnace? Sure. But I and other inspectors should not cross that line. Indirectly you become a lackey for the real estate salesperson.

Carefully crafted words and a routine that never varies will ensure you continued success and keep you out of court. I do not think you are there to confirm nor negate their decision to purchase. That is why I personally think listing inspections are not really an inspection at all, unless you use a completely different protocol and report method.

All of the above is an incomplete thought and maybe even a gentle admonition to those inspectors that think they are a little more important than they really are.

I am of the opinion the reason we have done thousands of inspections without any major problems is we never change our routine. It is difficult to do when the client is a single person with three kids, making 30M and buying their first house that is a POS.

Let's see what this stirs up!

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Les,

For the most part I agree with you. Although I do see myself as the clients advocate as far as giving them technical advise.

Using the floor furnace as an example, I would tell them the age and condition of the furnace but I would also tell them that modern houses have heat sources in each room, that house will not heat evenly, that they can not have central air with this system, and when it time to replace the furnace they should think about upgrading to a ducted system.

You are 100% right in saying an inspector should not given any advise concerning what he should ask the seller to do. It's proper to say "I recommend that this whatever be replaced" It is not ok to say " I recommend that you have the seller replace it or reduce the price of the house".

There are many inspectors that go to far and it gets them in trouble.

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Mark, exactly right!

The report should identify the furnace and it's condition. The report should not say "This is a Lear gas forced air floor furnace that is in good operating condition and should be replaced because it is not as efficient as a new Rudd Superflame with 2 zones and digital thermostat." "Recommend replacement by a licensed tradesperson."

I agree you(and me) are the client's advocate in all matters technical and objective. My standard opening comment to client's is "I work for you and you alone. I don't care if you buy the house or not, and don't ask me what it is worth because I don't know. Some things we are going to talk about are my world famous and some things are facts, I write the facts down and report on them - - - "

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Thanks Les and Mark,

Excellent responses from both of you. Let me try to state "in my own words" what I believe you are both saying (for my own clarity):

1)Report on the existence/operating status of the floor furnace. 2)Report facts relating to its (lack of)operating efficiency/potential hazards/etc. 3)DO NOT, in any way, influence how this information is put to use with regard to the actual transaction (offering opinion regarding use as a bargaining chip, estimate cost to "upgrade", etc.).

So, stating that X feature is "less desireable than..." or "should be replaced with..." is not appropriate, whereas stating that X feature is "less efficient than..." ,"has more intensive maintenance requirements than...", or "poses these potential hazards as compared to..." would be OK

Is that the "bare bones" of it?

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The vent-free fireplace responded to normal controls.

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The vent-free fireplace responded to normal controls. The unit should be checked annually for proper operation by a qualified service technician .

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The vent free fireplace lit when I turned the knob. Vent free fireplaces are a bad idea and usually pump so much water into the air that it harms the structure and grows mold in the attic. If you plan on keeping the vent-free fireplace anyway, don't use it as a heat source or for more than an hour or two a day. Have it checked annually for proper burn. If it's not burning properly it is a health hazard. These units deplete oxygen and emit carbon monoxide.

I know I'm loquacious, but I write something like the third example. I feel we have a responsibility to educate our clients about things that have the potential to be bad for them or their house

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Chad is right, without sounding like a cowboy or a hero. He is saying these are the facts, they are free and this is my opinion which you are paying me for.

I am not as loquacious as he, so I likely would write "The ventless gas fireplace operated -------------, but I don't like them and this is why -------. I spend more time talking with my client than I spend on the written report and hopefully establish a good working respectful relationship with them that benefits everyone.

Gotta tell you we are never questioned on what we say being much different than what we write. Your writing style has to somewhat match your conversational skills. Over the years, I have gotten worst with my verbal and better with my writing. How do you write "I remember standing right next to you and telling you to change that dang filter and you didn't!", all to the tune of CampTown Ladies.

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Some friends of mine renovated a joint on Long Island a couple of years ago, Chad, and wanted to install some unvented fireplaces where there weren't chimneys. They told me the local code dudes forbade it. For some reason I thought it was a state code. Wrong again . . . I hate that.

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What's the difference, Bill? That sounds oxymoronic. I did a quick search and found an article by self-professed expert Tim Carter saying the things were prohibited in NY. You and Chad have likely forgotten more than Carter will ever know, but there's apparently a lot of confusion/misinformation floating around.

http://www.askthebuilder.com/096_Gas_Lo ... Sets.shtml

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