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Metal vent through roof


msteger
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Saw this metal vent this morning. It is a B type metal vent for exhausting a gas fired boiler and water heater. There are two pics attached: one from the front of the home and one from the year. You can easily see the thing sloping away from the chimney in the one photo and small brackets in the rear photo.

Definitely does not look right... but how would you word the comment?

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Two questions for you first. Did you go on the roof, and what does it look like from the attic side? I don't see any flashing around it or it could just be the photo. But at least to me, if the integrity of the roof itself is solid, as in the screws for those mounting brackets aren't being pulled out, or the vent is slanted where it passes through the roof thus opening a small gap that water can penetrate, and no gapping between vent sections, I would only mention it as an item that may need replacement soon. It may be ugly and slanted, but if it is still serving the intended purpose it's not broken.

Hrmm, one more thing. You said for a boiler and hot water heater. If that is a townhouse and if the attics are split along the same line as the shingles, then that vent is real close to the attic side wall. Again go in the attic and see if there is enough separation as per the type of vent tube. It's probably OK, but at least worth a look.

EDIT- just a guess here too, but does that vent side up with the chimney? If so it may be slanted on purpose. The intent may have been to prevent chimney fumes from going into the vent or vice a versa. If the vent was straight, would the opening be over the chimney?

A few more questions. Under the window, it looks like the flashing is bent out creating a gap. I know this is on the downward side, but a good wind could still drive water into that gap. Also along the side, is there any flashing under the tile? It too looks a little bowed up. Opening the window and sticking your head out should be enough to see if there is.

Lastly, I take it this is a town house. Just curious about the house to the right in the picture. How close does the service drop get to that window. From the picture it looks like it gets pretty close, as in you can reach out and touch it. Again it may just be the photo and the angle of it.

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I did not go on the roof due to wet conditions and lack of access. The rear yard is fenced in, there is no access way b/w units, and there was no way to even bring a ladder into the rear yard. The front porch has a roof, so even getting to the upper roof with a ladder would be very difficult. Not sure how a roofer would go about this, unless the roofer went up on a neighbors house and walked over.

The attic was partially finished with plaster walls and ceiling. The metal vent runs up approx. 1' to the side of the chimney and even had a slight slope (not perfectly parallel with the chimney), I noticed. Since I could not see the underside of the roof (due to plastered attic ceiling) I could not see daylight, but did see stains on the ceiling and loose plaster. The stains were moisture tested and were dry at this time.

The space b/w the metal vent in the attic and the sidewall (to the next unit) was approx. 8~12".

The chimney is no longer in use.

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Well you said enough right there for my final comments then.

"Moisture stains noticed in attic near the Boiler/Hot water Heater vent. Vent shows signs of deterioration (rusting) and may have shifted (bent) away from it's originally installed design. Although no moisture was detected in the attic at the time of the inspection, the stain may indicate a leak at or near the vent. Have this area inspected by a qualified roofer for further evaluation. Exterior inspection was made from the ground with binoculars because the roof was too wet for safe access."

I will ask you some more questions though. You said the attic was partially plastered over? As in a handyman repair to cover stains or a more professional intended design? Also, what was the condition at the hot water heater and the boiler? The excessive rust on the vent could mean more. There is a thread in here about rust on vents. In the HVAC titled "So, Is Rust Ultimately Bad?!", it's on the 8th page. I suggest you read that too and take that advice.

One thing that does sit bad with me though is how it was too wet to go on the roof yet no moisture detected inside. It is a contradiction of terms and the Realtor will probably use that to tell the buyer everything is fine or that the stain was from before it was fixed. To be more on the safe side I may offer to return in a few days when things are dried out to re-inspect that portion from the roof. Odds are, it will be declined due to the time line they are on, but it shows good will and if stated in the report, may remove some liability from you. But before you leave you need to double check all the venting you see along the entire run for more clues if any. This could simply be a rusted vent installed weird but works. But it could also mean a lot more. More investigation is really required. If nothing else is found, I'd go with my comment above.

BTW...how do I link directly to a thread in the forums here? the URL on my screen just shows https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/

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Originally posted by sepefrio

BTW...how do I link directly to a thread in the forums here? the URL on my screen just shows https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/

To get the shortcut, back up to the active topics display, right-click on the post you want in the list and copy the shortcut.

If you're talking about subscribing to a post, you do that by clicking on a subscribe to post icon, if there is one.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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John,

You said that "I would only mention it as an item that may need replacement soon. It may be ugly and slanted, but if it is still serving the intended purpose it's not broken".

Would you want that rusted out mess on YOUR house? The vent should be straight. It is not straight. The vent should be properly supported. It is not properly supported. The vent should be free of rust. It is not free of rust. Wind driven rain should not be able to easily find its way to the interior of the vent. This vent flue will allow rain to get to the interior of the flue.

I can think of no good reason and only one bad reason to not tell the client to have that mess fixed.

As for a statement in the report; The vent flue for the boiler and water heater is in need of immediate repair or replacement. It is not straight, it is not properly supported, it is rusted, and it is leaning to a degree that will allow rain to enter the interior of the flue. Contact a reputable HVAC contractor for repair costs and options.

Best regards,

Tim

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Good comments guys. Thanks for the discussion.

The plastered attic ceiling did not look recently patched, but there were loose pieces of plaster and staining where this vent passes through the ceiling. I think I confused you with my attic description. The attic was partially finished, which meant finished walls and ceiling (lath/plaster), carpet over wood floor, and no heat. The ceiling was not 'partially' plastered but totally plastered, which is how it seems you took my description, Sepefrio.

Whether or not it was wet out, I didn't see any way (without going up on the neighbor's roof and walking over) to get up on this home's roof. As I said before, the front porch roof blocks one from using a ladder in the front. The rear yard is fenced in with no openings or gates and there is no walkway b/w the individual rowhome units.

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Tim,

Not arguing, just asking OK.

The vent should be straight - If I recall, it's not required to be straight, it's require to have an upward incline. As for the support bracket, I asked about that, but it can't be seen from the photo. It may be supported and still have strength, just in a slanted position.

I have a hunch it was installed slanted on purpose since it is so close to the chimney. The support brackets don't appear bent and appear to make solid contact with the roof. I don't see any bulging of the shingles which might indicate the bracket pulling away from the roof. If the vent had fallen over that much I would expect to see some deformation in those two brackets especially the one it leans into. Of course we can't see the rear bracket, if there is one, which may be detached or broken. I agree the vent cap won't work properly in a slanted position and will allow water in, but another small elbow could correct that.

Also, like I referred to in the other post about rust, if there is no leakage, if the supports are solid, if the rust is surface only and there are no other problems, then it is working as intended (except the cap). It may be ugly, but I don't report on cosmetics. Would I want that on my house? Heck no. But if it's working, I think it's not to be reported as Broken - Requires immediate repair just because it's ugly.

https://www.inspectorsjournal.com/forum ... mately,Bad

Matthew - Ahh, yeah I took it like there was plaster in some spots and not in others sorry, lol. I haven't been in a situation like this where you'd have to use a neighbors house to get on the roof. If the current owner was home I might ask how the neighbors were and maybe ask them for permission to access the roof from their side. But if I had bad vibes about it, I'd just drop it and write it up as such.

All in all, I do like Terry's comment the best. Straight, simple, to the point and next item please.

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OK, I'll be more blunt this time. How is it broken? Just being at an angle does not make it broken. I just went through NFPA 54 again and this is the only thing I'm finding about the pipe being straight/slanted. Straight is recommended, not required.

4-5.9(5-4.5)Vent ducts should be as straight as possible. In general, any bends can cause increases in the pressure that develops during

venting. If bends are unavoidable, they should be as shallow-angled as practical (that is, they should have as long a radius as practical).

As for the rust, if it is just surface rust, it is not broken. As long as there is no penetration through the metal, it still maintains it's integrity doesn't it?

One thing the code does state is that the vent ending can't be within a certain distance of other forced air vent openings. This could be a handy mans way of moving the vent ending away from the chimney. Is it the best no, but not broken. Maybe the supports are there to support a slanted vent. How many straight vents have you seen with support brackets?

If I'm wrong on this I can take that. But everything I see in print says it's not broken. Can someone show me where a vent is considered broken if it is at an angle or has some minor surface rust?

Remember, for this discussion, no one here can say for a fact the unit has broken free, I've given arguments above to say it has not. Further, we can't determine the extent of the rust. If access to the roof was possible and you could see a hole in the vent or broken supports, thats different. But just saying it's broken because it's slanted doesn't jive with what I've read.

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Originally posted by sepefrio

OK,--------How is it broken?

How many straight vents have you seen with support brackets?

Connection between flashing and vent is cocked.(Improper Installation)

If vent exceeds x height(x determined by Manufacturer) support is required.

If it's 1/3 rd. as rusty as the gutter it needs to go.

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Originally posted by Billy J Stephens

Connection between flashing and vent is cocked.(Improper Installation)

It doesn't look "cocked" to me at all. That's a tapered vent bib. It doesn't keep water from going down the pipe, only out of the roof cover. The storm collar above the bib is what keeps water out. From the color, I'd agree that it's surface rust only.

They probably took it up through the roof at whatever angle it crossed the area beneath the roof without adding an elbow below the roof. Looks lame, but I don't see the angle as an issue.

The flimsy little steel struts are a joke. That vents high enough that it should be supported with guy wires. Those struts will only buckle under a good wind.

They could add a 30° elbow below the roof, a set of guy wires, wire brush it and coat it with some barbecue black and it'll probably last another 10 years.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Originally posted by sepefrio

How is it broken?

As for the rust, if it is just surface rust, it is not broken. As long as there is no penetration through the metal, it still maintains it's integrity doesn't it?

Just my opinion sepefrio, but if it is installed on a slant, it is sloppy, slipshod workmanship or it has moved because it is not strapped in place properly, which brings us back to slipshod workmanship.

It is either broken or installed incorrectly, fix it.

As for rust, if I can see rust from the ground, it is rusty, the protective coating is gone and IT IS NOT DOING ITS JOB, the coatings is supposed to protect from corrosion. It is broken, fix it.

Every one looking at the photo, including your client, the buyer, can see it has problems, document it and move on.

I for one would NOT be willing NOT to mention it in my report since I would be fearful that the pipe joint is loose or rusted from the inside or that the leak that is dry today will return tomorrow when the rain comes from the other direction.

MY question is why would you NOT call this out for repairs. Some things are so plain that I don't need a code to call it out for repairs.

They could add a 30° elbow below the roof, a set of guy wires, wire brush it and coat it with some barbecue black and it'll probably last another 10 years.

Like I said, it is broke, fix it.[;)]

JMHO

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Quick note, my name is John, sepefrio is just my screen name.

Billy, I'm not saying that. In fact I have said a couple of times that this could be wrong. But what I am saying is, please show me where it is written that it can't be cocked. I have shown you where is says it is not recommended, but not wrong. I respect everyones opinion and the vast experience, but if I am ever pressed on something, I can't use "Well, that's what Billy said".

As per manufacturer directions? No clue, do you have a copy I can read. Here are some from Sun Mar that I found. Again it recommends no slants, but doesn't say they are wrong.

i) Minimize the number of sharp angles as each reduces vent efficiency. If it is necessary to have angles in the vent pipe, it is recommended that 45 degree angles are used whenever possible. (90 degree elbows may be used as long as no horizontal vent results - pipe may be bracketed at a slight upwards angle to prevent this)

There was also this.....

i) The vent stack should be installed as near to vertical as possible.

So again I say, slanted is not wrong just not recommended.

Look, I am married so it's proven I make mistakes :) All I am asking for is something to back this up.

EDIT

Jim - Go back to my second post. I do recommend writing it up, but not as an immediate repair. With the information that is available I would call it marginal and let a contractor make the call. To me it still appears it could be functional though. I even mentioned the stain too. I believe that only items that you can discern are clearly broken are written as such. In this case, there is too much information missing to make a 100% certain call.

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Jeez, a whole lotta InspectorSpeak for something so simple.

Maybe plain English would work.

Something like: "The vent pipe is leaning, it's rusty, and it's crudely installed. Get an HVAC technician to install a new pipe, and get a roofer to make sure that the new pipe is properly flashed (waterproofed)."

How hard is that? Really? Took me less than a minute.

WJ

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WJ, maybe I'm a hard head but I would prefer to do it here vice out there with the customer.

"The vent pipe is leaning - I have shown in multiple places that a leaning vent stack is not something wrong. So why say it?

"Get an HVAC technician to install a new pipe" - Again, why a new pipe, likes hausdok said above, maybe cleaning it and painting is all that is needed.

and get a roofer to make sure that the new pipe is properly flashed (waterproofed)." - Agreed the flashing needs looked at especially since there was a stain (albeit dry on a rainy day) underneath.

My point is this. My comment said it may need repair soon. I was corrected by several saying no, it's broken get it fixed now. I know it's a fine point but it does make a difference. Not accusing you of it but what I don't want to do is get in the habit of just saying "well I'll just call it broken and let someone else figure it out" actions. I think we are paid for more than that. In fact, it is this type of action that, IMHO can justifiably lead to being called deal killers.

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Jeez, a whole lotta InspectorSpeak for something so simple.

Maybe plain English would work.

Something like: "The vent pipe is leaning, it's rusty, and it's crudely installed. Get an HVAC technician to install a new pipe, and get a roofer to make sure that the new pipe is properly flashed (waterproofed)."

How hard is that? Really? Took me less than a minute.

WJ

Amen to that.

John Coker, that vent is improperly installed. Remember that the drawings in codebooks are integral parts of the code and carry the same force as the written words. (There are many code requirements that are only found in figures.) The drawings of b-vents in the codes, the GAMA tables and the manufacturer's instructions all show the b-vents terminating vertically.

Amerivent requires them to be vertical in both their drawings and at the written instruction, "Vents must terminate vertically above the roof line."

Who the heck is Sun Mar? All I can find out about them is that they make composting toilets.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by sepefrio

My point is this. My comment said it may need repair soon. I was corrected by several saying no, it's broken get it fixed now. I know it's a fine point but it does make a difference. Not accusing you of it but what I don't want to do is get in the habit of just saying "well I'll just call it broken and let someone else figure it out" actions. I think we are paid for more than that. In fact, it is this type of action that, IMHO can justifiably lead to being called deal killers.

Maybe it's just me, but I think you're going way out of your way to bless a fooked vent pipe.

See Katen and Erby comments.

Me, I'm not much for telling people to fix old rusty falling-down things later. On my weirdest day, I don't think I'd tell somebody to get a rusty vent pipe sanded and painted. Easier and cheaper, I think, just to fix the stuff that's wrong. The sooner the better, I say.

I don't think I ever did a customer a favor by telling him to delay repairs on something that's wrong and worn out. To me, it comes down to who do I serve: the reeltor who just loves to put off repairs, or my customer, who doesn't benefit by waiting til something breaks.

WJid="blue">

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