high efficiency exhaust-acid dripping?


Hi,
We are currently selling our home. During the buyer's home inspection, one of the issues found was that a PVC pipe coming from our furnace, out the side of the house, is right over our AC unit. The inspector said that the "acidic runoff could prematurely deteriorate the AC unit". (As a little background, the inspector botched about 60-70% of the home inspection...my husband called him on the errors, and the inpector has admitted he was wrong.)
Anyway, the buyer is requesting that our AC unit be moved. The inspector says we can just add another 90 degree bend to divert the "possible acidic runoff" away from the unit. (Some more background...we live in a 200 unit townhouse plan, and every unit was constructed in the same fashion as ours). My husband believes this is only a cold air intake - since it a high efficiency furnace, the inspector believes it's an exhaust, but both say they don't know for sure. My husband does know that you can only have 2 90 degree bends, if this is in fact an exhaust, and there are already 2.
We would really rather not move the AC, as it will cost quite a bit of money. The house is only 4 years old....if the location is such an issue, how did the house get it's occupancy permit (or the other 199 units!)?
If anyone knows the answer and a possible solution, insight would be greatly appreciated.
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Sounds like you already know the answer you want. So why bother asking the question? And why are you sticking with an inspector you don't trust?
Personally I think the inspector is out of his gourd. Any runoff from the pipe that is acidic would be detected as a rust spot long before it became a problem, and even then the solution is simply painting it or putting something as simple as a downspout diverter on top of the AC unit.
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Thanks for you quick response. We are the seller of the house, so we did not pick this inspector - the buyer's closing company did.
As for why I asked the question, sorry I wasn't clear enough. I'm wanting to know whether this pipe is an exhaust or an intake, and if this really is an issue at all.
If it's intake, then my husband is correct, and we need not do anything...as there would be no runoff (except maybe some condensation, which should be no more acidic than rainwater).
If it's an exhaust, is the inspector correct that there would be acidic runoff? And enough to harm the AC unit? Like I mentioned, this inspector was wrong on many things with his initial inspection, so I'm leery of just blindly believing him that this is an issue at all. (Didn't mention this before...but we DO have a drain from the furnace in the basement...so I don't think any liquid would travel UP this PVC pipe - maybe 4 feet, then across my basement and out the rear of the house).
Additionally, I wondered if there were any other solutions...if I can't add any more 90 degree bends, for venting purposes, what else can I add? Or is moving the AC unit the only option...no other house has had theirs moved, and many have already changed owners.
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Others have said the same, no this isn't an issue. Anything in the exhaust of the furnace would be so diluted as to be trivial in consequences - especially outside. Something as simple as rain would render it totally harmless anyway.
Mountain out of a molehill
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newer high efficency units use two concentric pipes so it could be BOTH an intake and an exhaust. Mark
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Mark - Thanks for the answer...if I don't see concentric pipes...then I know it's either intake OR exhaust, and that is easily tested.
Eigenvector - The inspector put this "issue" in his serious problems area of the report, and our buyer is demanding the AC unit be moved (the mountain was not just perceived by me). My posts here were to find out if this truly was an issue, and if so, find any alternative solutions.
Thanks to all for your help. I know now that we need not take any corrective actions.
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On Mar 2, 10:01 am, snipped-for-privacy@centimark.com wrote: <brevity snip>

Exactly. It passed presumably competent configuration and installation code inspection/s, and if there was such an issue it would be evident by now.
Did your inspector ever slip and mutter, "Would you like fries with that"? -----
- gpsman
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An inspector looked at it. You husband looked at it. And neither one can figure out if it's an intake or exhaust for the furnace? Just turn on the furnace and use a piece of paper towel to see if air is going in or out. If it's going in, problem solved. If it's going out, can't you cut the pipe of just a bit shorter so any condensation misses the AC unit? Usually the AC unit isn't right up against the house wall.
If have to solve it with another 90 and that doesn't exceed the furnace specs, then seems like a cheap fix to make the buyer happy. But I also agree that I doubt this is a real big problem to begin with.
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GPSMAN - Glad that someone else agrees with my logic that the code enforcement officer would not let something serious slide.
Any ideas on how to respond to the buyer's request (other than telling her too bad)? I have no problems fixing something that is a legitimate problem, but I just think this inspector doesn't know what he's talking about. When my husband informed him that we had a high efficiency furnace, which would have a cold air intake, the guy was just kinda silent, and said "Oh". What did the guy look at for 3 hours in my house??...he totally missed how my house was constructed (causing the majority of the report to be incorrect)..and either he doesn't know what a high efficiency furnace is, or he didn't bother to look at what was in our place. (To the best of my knowlege, only a high efficiency furnace would have a pipe going out the side of the house...I believe all others go up and out the roof)
I doubt that I can just tell the lady we're not fixing it, I don't want her to walk away. I know we need a reason, but I do want it to be the truth. Do you know what this pipe is for? (Husband is knowledgeable in construction, but makes no claim to being an HVAC expert...) I did some searching in the groups, and saw some people saying intake goes through the side, exhaust goes through the side, or that that pipe could be both. I do know there is only one PVC pipe out the side..how do you know which it's for? (Unfortunately, the stickers/diagrams on the side of my furnace are all in a foreign language-high quality stuff huh??-so i can't tell from that.) Maybe I'll call the builder today to see if they know.
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wrote: <brevity

Turn the furnace on, go outside, and look..
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Yep, I'll take a look when I get home. If it's either exhaust or intake, then it'll be easy to figure out. If it's both, then hopefully it'll be obvious. Then when I draft up the response letter, I'll just say we're not fixing to avoid causing further problems.
Oh, and I will admit, my husband didn't go out and look at it when the furnace was running. He was way to busy dealing with this dumb inspector for all the other inaccuracies that he COULD definatively say were wrong. (Inspector also actually admitted he added non-safety/ quality items because "she (the buyer) asked for it to be in the report"!) So I got the task of figuring out this one.
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snipped-for-privacy@centimark.com writes:

In other words, the buyer asked the inspector to list items that are *not* defects, things that he would normally not mention, in order to have more negotiating room to try to get you to reduce the price.
In other words, the buyer doesn't actually want to pay the offered price that you agreed on before the inspection.
    Dave
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On Mar 2, 4:06 pm, snipped-for-privacy@cs.ubc.ca (Dave Martindale) wrote:

Dave, thanks for the opinion. You're right on that she knows she's got us backed into a corner...obviously we have another house we're buying after the sale of this place. AFTER we had a signed offer, she started demanding us to put a door up in the opening to the laundry... Somehow this ended up in the inspection as a "serious issue"...there was never a door in this location, and obviously there is no safety concern or defect here.
My husband and the inspector have come to an agreement..once we fix 2 minor issues (NOT this stupid pipe thing)...he's going to "re-inspect" our house...with his "new knowledge"...and we'll be good to proceed. Thank goodness!!
And thankfully, once this place is sold (45 days and counting) we don't ever have to deal with this buyer again.
Thanks again for all of the insightful responses!
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snipped-for-privacy@centimark.com writes:

Sounds like the inspector has come to think that you and your husband are reasonable people, the buyer is not, and he doesn't want to be part of a scheme to fleece you. The home ispector works for the buyer, but he's also supposed to maintain some standard of objectivity and professionalism, and it seems he's come to his senses.
The buyer, on the other hand, is likely to remain a jerk until the deal has closed. Good luck.
    Dave
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On Mar 2, 10:17 pm, snipped-for-privacy@cs.ubc.ca (Dave Martindale) wrote:

I'd be real careful with any "agreement" between the buyer's home inspector and your husband, especially since you have a buyer demanding doors be put in places they never existed. Just because the inspector agrees to something with your husband doesn't mean that 2 weeks from now, the buyer isn't going to be pointing to the inspection report and saying you haven't fixed everything. Normally, the list of what the buyer wants fixed has to be in writing. Then you respond to it in writing. That will stand up. Some verbal exchange with a person not party to the contract won't. Also, is it clear who, if anyone, is paying for the 2nd inspection? In the inspections I've dealt with, there was never a 2nd one, nor was it included in the price.
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On Mar 2, 11:17 am, snipped-for-privacy@centimark.com wrote:

A simple no, with a simple explanation.
I think I'm beginning to detect a faint odor of smoke... and I think your lady doesn't want you to move the A/C unit, she wants a discount. It's a buyer's market, and I think she's trying to work you over a little too hard. Either that, or she wants out of the deal.
If the pipe is discharging acidic material onto the A/C unit some damage should be evident after 3 or 4 winters. If there isn't any, I'd offer to buy a cover for it.
If that doesn't satisfy her, I'd let her walk. Some people, you're better off not conducting business with in the long run. Next year she'll notice the wind blows, and when it does it blows the discharge onto the A/C, and sue you for not moving it far enough away.

Something to steal, probably.

Tell her the truth: The inspector was incompetent, the pipe isn't an issue. And even if it was an issue, moving the unit is out of the question.

It could only be intake or exhaust. Fire up the furnace and look at it. -----
- gpsman
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On Mar 2, 9:01 am, snipped-for-privacy@centimark.com wrote:

It's intake and exhaust, and the exhaust is mildly acidic. In 2 years, mine, which the installers located just past one corner of the a/c condensor unit, there isn't any rust, but for one screw. I'm planning on screwing a plastic shield some day, and you could do that unless it is right at the middle. If it is higher than the condensor, you could put a shield below the port. It'll make it look nicer because the furnace exhaust will no longer be steaming right at the condensor.
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The pipe is right in the middle of the unit, about 4 feet above it...I think we'll just fix the other legitimate issues (all extrememly minor) and refuse to touch this one. Thanks again!
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snipped-for-privacy@centimark.com writes:

So turn on the furnace, and determine whether the pipe is sucking outdoor air into the furnace, or exhausting combustion products outside. Or go inside and see which port of the furnace this pipe is connected to. I can't believe that both the inspector and your husband are guessing about this when it's so easy to figure out the truth for yourself.

If the furnace has been in use for 4 years, and the exhaust is going to cause any problems with the A/C, I'd expect to see evidence of it already. If nobody can see problems on the A/C, moving it seems rather pointless.
    Dave
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