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I'm looking to store a couple of comments so I can deploy them when needed. I need one for each of the following.

1. chimneys

2. heat exchangers

I dont want these plastered on all of my reports as you sometimes find in some software systems. I want them standing by so I can use them only when they apply. I want something as short and sweet as possible. Something that will be useful to my clients as well as provide liability protection for me.

For both of these two categories, the comments will be intended to inform the clients of the limited scope of the inspection and the inability to fully check these items.

In most cases, the preface leading up to these comments will be specific to the job at hand. The comment will be to follow up and finish off.

How would you word a comment for each of these?

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We have to choose Standards of Practice in Kentucky--ASHI, NAHI, or NAACHI(Or its current iteration).

The ASHI standards specifically disclaim heat exchangers and the interiors of flues and chimneys.

Which is not to say that I don't exceed the standards on a daily basis.

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I guess you are looking for disclaimers. I don't have them for chimneys or heat exchangers. I've always felt that if I can't see it, I can't see it, and that would be enough protection from liability. I may be wrong. You say you don't want them in every report but only when they apply. I suppose that would be when there is a chimney or a heat exchanger, right?

Anyway, I have a disclaimer for fireplaces and it goes like this:

Æ’Ã Your home inspector does NOT light fires of any kind.

The seller or their agents should demonstrate the operability of fireplaces. It is also recommended that a licensed chimney sweep perform an NFPA Level II inspection which may require fishing a camera up the chimney to see what the condition of the liner is. This is beyond what your inspector does.

While I disclaim this for fireplaces, if I understand the NFPA correctly, ALL chimneys should have a Level II inspection when a property changes hands and not just fireplace chimneys.

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Originally posted by hausdok

Hi John,

Might I gently suggest that you write the comments then post them here for folks to help you tweak; that way you will have been the one that puts the effort into it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

You mean you want me to think? OK, it will take some time so don't hold your breath. I'll try and dream something up while I sleep tonight.

Check back tomorrow evening.

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For heat exchangers:

Consider the comment preceded by language that is specific to the exact situation.

.......For the safety of the occupants, it's very important that the heat exchanger be in good shape and functioning properly. In the limited scope of this inspection, it's not possible to fully verify this. Therefore, you should hire an HVAC technician to completely inspect this unit.

For chimneys:

Consider the comment preceded by language that is specific to the exact situation.

.........I cannot see all portions of the chimney for inspection. It's important to make sure it's in good condition before using it. Have a qualified chimney professional do a thorough inspection of this chimney.

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Originally posted by John Dirks Jr

In the limited scope of this inspection, it's not possible to fully verify this. Therefore, you should hire an HVAC technician to completely inspect this unit.

For chimneys:

I cannot see all portions of the chimney for inspection. It's important to make sure it's in good condition before using it. Have a qualified chimney professional do a thorough inspection of this chimney.

Why can't you see these things? What is the HVAC / Chimney 'professional" able to do that you aren't able to do? You need to explain why these things are outside the scope of your inspection.

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Why wouldn't he? It's smart. Expert home inspectors are still only Generalists. An expert physician doesn't need to know every single thing there is to know about the human body. When he reaches the edge of his expertise, he punts.

Similarly, an expert HI doesn't need to know how to dismantle, inspect, and reassemble a furnace to determine the condition of the heat exchanger during a routine home inspection. When he gets to the heat exchanger, he punts (if he's honest and smart).

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Installing CO detectors would protect the occupants better than a tear-down/rebuild of the furnace, and shift any liability to the deep-pockets manufacturer and away from the HI.

And that is the final truth. No matter what you can or cannot see, or honestly say about a given gas-burning appliance today, the only meaningful protection for all the many days that follow is a good CO detector.

I look at heat exchangers whenever I can, but some styles simply don't allow that without disassembly, and none are fully accessible. I don't do disassembly; just covers. I look at what I can see, I report what I see, and tell them a HVAC pro will be required if they want to know more. I often write some variation of "If you want a more expert opinion regarding the condition of the _______, consult a _________ and ask them to _________."

Brian G.

Expert Generalist [^]

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

. . . The HI could have saved himself a poopstorm of trouble if he'd used his words instead of the stuff in his gizmo bag.

Put more simply, why pick up a Sawzall when all you need is a few carefully-crafted sentences?

It's a pick-yer-toolbox kinda thing...

All true.

However, as one of the knuckle-skinning crowd, I'll point out that 5 minutes of knuckle-skinning can often find a cracked heat exchanger that wouldn't be found by an HVAC tech or a CO detector. With new furnaces running about $3k, that’s not a bad return on 5 minutes of work.

I'd vote for carefully crafted sentences and a few judiciously used gizmos.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by randynavarro

However, as one of the knuckle-skinning crowd, I'll point out that 5 minutes of knuckle-skinning can often find a cracked heat exchanger that wouldn't be found by an HVAC tech or a CO detector.

Care to elaborate?

Remove heat shield/burner/register/whatever, insert mirror, see problem.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I'm a knuckle skinner, as well. I've found tons of cracks just by removing the burner shield.

And if I don't see any obvious cracks, but have concerns about the heat exchanger, I make a point of telling the buyer to hire an HVAC person who'll pull the blower, stick his head inside the furnace, and see what's up. The exercise takes about an hour, and costs +/- $100.00 around here. That's a small price to pay if the HX is indeed cracked and the onus of replacing the furnce falls upon the seller rather than the buyer.

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Your recipe for divining the innards of a gas furnace is a recipe for disaster for virtually all of the HI force, including -- and especially -- me.

Hmm, I always take at least the heat shield off. It's pretty hard to lose track of four or five screws. I'm a huge proponent of selling a very technically proficient service and I don't let the ordinary expectations of what a home inspection should be stand in my way.

My contract is specific. My client always knows what to expect from me and they pay me far more than what they would pay my competition. I guess if you're charging K Mart prices you should provide K Mart quality, which in my mind, means deferring every roof and furnace to an 'expert'. The fact is, I'm almost always more expert than the expert I'd have to recommend, and recommending them to cover my ass is just, well, cheesey.

My clients expect my opinions based on my observations. To meet these expectations I actually need to make the observations.

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