Well friends I was out in beautiful and scenic Brentwood the other day performing an inspection on a former TN Titans home for my buyer client. One of the most notable issues was the installation of a recently installed gas water heater. A natural gas water heater was installed to replace a direct vent water heater which is a carbon oxide health risk. We need to fully understand the difference between a direct vent and natural draft water heaters as I see this all the time.
Direct vent water heaters take combustion air (oxygen) from the exterior and discharge vent gas directly to the exterior through a double wall vent pipe. The combustion chamber is sealed and the only place for the vent gas to go is…..outside…..allowing these water heater to vent directly to the exterior at grade; bam. Woohoo! A natural draft water heater is not sealed and the only motivation for the vent gas to go outside is the draft created by the heating up of the metal flue…..ya know heat rises…in TN at least. Therefore, the flue must be of length to create motivation for the vent gas to go up the flue and not vent into the room…..which is an asphyxiation risk….Carbon monoxide poisoning. The flue for a natural draft water heater must discharge above the roof line by 2 feet and be at least 5 feet in length.
The reason why natural draft water heaters get installed when replacing direct vent water heaters is cuz direct vent water heaters are expensive….about 3 times the cost of a natural draft water heater. Soooo the homeowner calls a licensed plumber to replace his direct vent water heater and the estimate is about $2300 installed…eeeek! He then calls Bubba the handy man who says he can do it for $750 (by installing a natural draft water heater)…..well that sounds a whole lot better…except when your paying the funeral bills for the loved one that died as a result of the ensuing carbon monoxide present in the home.
Another issue to consider. Some less experienced home inspectors will not catch this issue as it is subtle. As we move into the slower holiday season, a lot of hungry inexperienced inspectors are out there giving low cost inspections that will not catch issues such as this and providing you with a checklist style report with a bunch of 1 sentence comments. Click on this link to see the actual comment for this water heater ooops-nat-draft. I’m as tight as they come with money…….but not when it comes to BIG investments…….cuz you usually get what you pay for. Make sure you ask prospective inspector how many inspections they have personally performed…(I have about 6000 under my belt)…not how many the company or franchise they work for has performed. Move on if they have inspected less than 1000.
Seeing Knowing Cheering on The Titans! Inspector Bill Carlson
So a little new construction inspection today. The offering from a huge track home builder. Yup mostly solid until………………..wait for it…….wait for it….(I’m fully aware this is stale)…..wait for it……
The main trunk line for the HVAC supply air is discharging directly to the crawl space.......nothing is going into the house.
The elevation of the crawl space section of the ductwork and the garage section didn't line up.
In the name of fairness, we are going to assume that the builder and mechanical contractor completely know about this and just didn’t have the right materials on the truck and were waiting to the last minute to hook this up to increase the drama!…….Ya know I’m pretty sure this house had its certificate of occupancy (c of o) from Metro codes…..gas meter wasn’t even set.
Don’t waste your money on a home inspection with new construction. Codes has your back.
Seeing Knowing Cooling the crawl space Inspector Bill Carlson
You will see an Internet viral explosion shortly but there has been a previously undocumented Picasso unearthed locally in Nash Vegas.
Seeing Knowing Amazing Son Inspector Bill Carlson
I would say I observe evidence of mold/mildew in new construction crawl spaces in about 10% of the homes I inspect. Mostly due to crawl spaces traditionally vented to the exterior (humid ambient conditions) and the plastic moisture barrier installed last thing. Elevated moisture content (as much as 19%) in new floor framing lumber is also a significant factor.
Pretty thick on the side of a girder.
Yup.....Evidence of mold/mildew.
Even present on I joist flanges which do NOT have high moisture content.
Soooooooo……no big deal. Your builder will want to wipe it down with bleach and call it good…..no good. A proper remediation by an Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) certified contractor should be performed. For 2 reasons. Of course to address the issue. But also to have the work performed to a known and accepted standard and have proper documentation including indoor air quality testing to confirm the effectiveness of the work. Keep in mind, when the new homeowner goes to sell the house in 5 years they will need to check the prior fungi box on the disclosure form and better have proper documentation to back up that it was cleaned up; properly.
Lastly, a proper IAQA remediation includes elimination of the humid conditions that caused the issue. Most likely this will require sealing the crawl space off to the exterior, providing mechanical ventilation, and locating the insulation barrier at the foundation walls……commonly referred to as encapsulation. Often the insulation part of this reconfiguration is omitted which is improper as the home must meet insulation requirements in the building code which is R10 levels at the foundation walls in sealed crawl spaces.
Seeing Knowing Encapsulating Inspector Bill Carlson
Gentle slope to the toilet.......gut says hacked up joist.
Gut is always right.
Seeing Knowing Taking sawzalls away from all plumbers Inspector Bill Carlson
Imagine my surprise when I found this guy paddling upstream.
Made me jump back....flushed with the lid closed.....hellllooooo!
Comment Read....Repair- The toilet flushing power was reduced indicated by the test rat remaining in the bowl after flushing. A licensed plumber should be contacted to perform a proper repair.
Seeing Knowing Disenfecting Inspector Bill Carlson
Complete with rotted bottom end cedar post.
Seeing Knowing Scanning for Zombies Inspector Bill carlson
Seeing Knowing Scratching my head so much over the last 13 years of doing this I must have lice and or dandruff; sure has made me bald Inspector Bill Carlson
Sheeeck out this conduiy outlet lasso $#!
Found this powered up receptacle outlet dangling from a main electrical panel.
Well there I go makin a mountain out of a mole hill again. See there…. the wiring is double tapped (wrong) and protected by
.....Yup....60 Amp breaker protecting 15 Amp rated equiment.....get out the marsh mellows!
a 60 Amp breaker………
Seeing Knowing Running for cover Inspector Bill Carlson
Well I’ve never been to Venice; Italian city of canals, but I could almost smell the Sarde en Sardor (marinated sardines) in this crawl space.
A series of canals directing water to a jack leg sump pump.
Excellent that they removed bearing soil adjacent to the foundation to direct water. Amazingly the foundation was unaffected…..currently.
Modern plastic lined canal!
This much water was present after 2 days of dry weather. These efforts appear to be acting to retain water in the crawl space……or there is a spring present.
Gandola.....O sole mio!
Just so we’re clear…..sump pumps and interior perimeter drain systems even when properly installed are a last resort moisture treatment for a crawl space as these systems do not address one of the most important concerns; foundation health in the face of chronic moisture passage through footings. Best to address moisture entry from the exterior and prevent it from entering in the 1st place.
Footing cliff diving onto the gondola.
5 gal bucket sump....vertical pump=not a whole lot
Seeing Knowing Singing Tenors Inspector Bill Carlson