Cold Air Return

Im pretty sure I know the answer, but want to confirm with someone who has a strong background in HVAC.

Newer house inspected ( 5yrs old) The home has an HRV tied into the return of the furnace. between the boot and the duct, they left a 2" gap (photo). The home also has no return air at all, other then this source. I’m assuming the gap is because the furnace was starving for air. Has anybody seen this before? I usually contact my HVAC buddy’s, but can’t get a hold of anybody.
Your help would be appreciated.

The cold air return has to be so far away from the furnace. That is to close. I beleive it is 12 feet but I’m onsite waiting for a realtor so cannot look it uop for you. It is wrong in any case.

It allows the HRV to function without supply air flow rates being affected by the forced air system’s fan speed. More info at link below:

There has to be return air…

Would it be wrong if it was an electric furnace?

If that is the only return then it is defiantly wrong, electric or gas. Another question you should be asking is where is the filter for the system located? With a hole that big at a return there should be a filter at the air handler so you don’t clog the coil. I can see all kinds of issues with that install. I’d rather see the fresh supply air terminated in the supply trunk of the system and then your not going to run the risk of increasing the static pressure to the point of needing a break in the supply from the HRV. But that also has to be done properly so your air handler doesn’t force air up into the HRV supply. They would have to install it with an elbow in the supply of the duct work.

Also if that’s a gas fired furnace it’s going to create a negative pressure at the unit which it could possibly cause the unit to backdraft and produce CO in the home.

Thank you all for your input, really helped. I recommended the buyer obtain the name of the designer and the installer, since no tags where present, (another defect) and I could not determine who installed it. And to obtain a third party HVAC Technician to further evaluate.

I would guess the HRV was installed a few years ago. Perhaps twenty or so years ago, where the HRV incoming air connected to the return plenum and there was not an air-tight connection. The hole or gap was to be left which ensured the HRV remained as an independent system and that the flow within the HRV would remain balanced. That has since changed, and HRV manufacturers are now specifying a direct connection to warm air plenum, which is how mine is connected. Depends on which side the HRV is connected… if return air as was the case of early HRV installs around here, a gap is necessary… if on warm air side of furnace then no gap is specified.