Ok, I am a home inspector....
I use prestons to see just how old and inefficient units are....
I carry the paper version in my truck, but would LIKE to carry the CD... but
don't have room in my truck for a laptop... but I already have a PDA on my
dash for navigation, scheduling and other reference materials.
It would be really nice if I could do lookups on my PDA....
You don't need all that crap, keep it simple...If the home owner can't
provide maintenance records for the system, and its 15 years old or more,
recommend the system be replaced. If there are maintenance records, then
older than 20 years. If the equipment is mis-matched, recommend replacement.
If you get a 30 year old furnace and coil with a 5 year old condenser,
recommend replace the system.
On a personal note, there are a lot of "house flippers" in my area, and they
pull that kind of crap all the time where they do the bare minimum just to
try to make the system run. Most try to DIY, and the new owner is stuck with
a pile of crap that breaks down a month after they move in. They don't have
a nickel to rub together because they used everything they had to be able
buy the house in the first place. They *NEED* a new system and can't afford
it. But the home inspector said that everything was good to go, so their
Thats approximately what I do now...
Unless there are records I ALWAYS assume that the HVAC system(s) have not
been maintained and suggest a "tune up" prior to closing.
I almost always suggest service contracts because it is not a question of IF
a unit is going to hick-up, but when. We have all heard horror stories
about the unit that fails on a Friday nite, a wet, cold, long weekend,
friday with a party planned for the weekend, and the owner without a
contract being told the earliest someone can even evaluate the unit is
Tuesday.... Service contracts also mean that the unit will get "looked at"
at least once every year, sometimes twice... and I see units that haven't
been looked at in YEARS...
If it is "older than the average life expectancy" I call that out... but I
am not supposed to use scare tactics... my job is to inform as best a
GENERALIST can. There are people on this forum who blast home inspectors
routinely because we don't have the experience... I acknoledge that... and
say GREAT, give me some knowledge, guidelines, pointers, etc... as I am
there to look at more than just the HVAC system. People don't want to call
in 4-5 different trades, and pay for them, they want ONE person to give
their best guestimation of who they NEED to call in next...
Unfortunately, I am also not in a position to "recomend" system replacement
as I don't know the entire story. It rarely makes sense for people to
replace systems if they are only going to be in the house 2-3 years. Unless
the unit is older than most or in really bad shape, the payback is typically
about 4-5 years. Places with high electric rates, or some really cheap
units (EER of <8) or other factors that drive up the monthly cost all are
factors that I may not be privey to.
What I want Preston't for is to put a bit more reality into my
guestimations. I don't have the experience to look at a model/serial number
on the wide variety of systems I see and know its manufacturing date. Nor
can I know its effeciency. On some brands the effeciency varies
dramatically between their low end and high end units.
I would LIKE to be able to say....
"According to the book I carry, your unit was manufactured between 1995 and
1996 and, at its best, had a Efficeincy rating of 9.4 and a coop of 6. This
could be compared to the BEST efficeincy today of 18 and a Coop of 9. This
means that you could reduce that portion of your utility bill a factor of
those numbers in an ideal situation. (notice al the weasel words) You may
want to talk to some HVAC contractors and get some proposals of what they
might be able to do for you and the possible pay back periods based on
todays utility rates...."
Obviously when I see units that are sick... I can strongly suggest getting a
full evaluation from someone like yourself.... but people don't have to
listen. I red flagged a unit several years ago because the CO detector on
my belt went off when I went into the basement. The flue pipe missed the
chimney nipple by a good 6". I had the chance to go back to the same house
a year or so later... Guess what... my red tape was still there, it still
hadn't been serviced yet... and the agent said that because of my red tape
and note the 2nd buyers had ALSO negotiated an allowance... and ALSO had
nothing done.... ( I had told the original owners not to come home until it
was fixed and explained the risk & problem....)
Sorry for the rambling response....
That's where the problem comes in. People DON'T want to call in 5
different professional trades. It gets expensive. HOWEVER, I would bet
that almost everyone of your inspection report says something like:
1)HVAC system appears to not have been maintained well. Recommend a
qualified HVAC company inspect/clean the system.
2) Kitchen has small leak in trap under sink and both commodes in
bathrooms are slightly loose. This can cause damage to floor and
furnishings. Recommend calling a qualified plummer to make repairs.
3) Electric panel is 100Amp breaker panel but all spaces are full.
Noticed one 4x4 box on basement ceiling had no cover. This can be a
fire hazard. Recommend a licensed electrician inspect and correct
4) Roof (inspected from ground level with binoculars) has a loose
shingle and one nail is sticking up. Recommend a qualified roofer make
Are you getting the jist of my note? I see this in every inspection
anymore. You guys are covering your own butts and the potential
homeowner gets to make all kind of expensive repairs.
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