At a combustion appliance, if you find an exhaust flue separated and the products of combustion passing straight into the home, do you shut off the fuel supply and red-tag the appliance or do you recommend that it be shut off?
This question applies to any life-threatening condition. Do you take action or recommend that action be taken?
I notify the Seller/Occupant verbally, or in writing if they are not present, of the hazard and in no uncertain terms as to the danger. I also notify the Buyer/Client and both RE agents involved verbally and in bold large font in my same day report. I do not feel I have the right nor authority to shut down a system or ‘red-tag’ it. I would only do that if sparks were flying or smoke was pouring out of whatever it was and I felt immediate action were needed to protect life or property in addition to a 911 call.
Here’s an example of a disconnected W/H flue from an inspection last week that got that treatment:
I never shut-down anything on a home inspection site. I’ve found many life threatening dangers on sites and I always point them out to my Buyers and note the danger in the report with a huge circle around it. Then the listing agent will be notified.
I’ve ran into serious gas leaks, missing vent connectors, decks falling off buildings, exposed live electrical wires, etc.
I don’t have the authority to shut down someone else’s mechanicals or to lock out specific areas. IMO, pointing out the defect and notifying everyone of the life threatening defect is all I do. If the defect takes a life, I told you so. Look at my report.
Here’s my most recent find…yes, it was active at the time of the inspection.
While we are on the subject of gas leaks. I had an inspection three years ago where I entered a vacant home and smelled gas right away. I went directly to the basement and found that the water heater was leaking gas so bad that my eyes were watering. I told my clients that I can not continue with the inspection until I get an “ALL CLEAR” from the local fire department.
I then, told the listing agent that my inspection is postponed until I get the gas leak repaired. She turn and looked at me and said, “What, you’re not going to finish the inspection?”. I told her “No, I’m not. You need to contact the fire department or gas company and inform them of the gas leak”. She replied with “I’ll contact them tomorrow morning”. I told her that she’d be very lucky if the house was still there in the morning.
I then left and never heard from my client’s again.
Okay, Superman. Knock yourself out, but don’t forget to fix that trip hazard in the driveway. It could kill Grandma when she comes over in her walker…and change out that bad GFCI over the bathroom sink before someone gets electrocuted. And whatever you do, Batman, move the bedroom furniture out of the back room that opens up into the garage.
The authority I have would be… who’s going to stop me? :twisted:
I switched on the kill switch to a gas furnace last March and a bunch of gas exploded in my face. I thought the smell was from the sewage ejector pump with the broken cover. That’s what it smelled like.
The home was passive solar and warm, so I shut off fuel supply to the furnace, tagged it and notified the sellers agent. The furnace had been certified by a local company two days before I arrived.
When I picked up the radon monitor two days later, the seller had turned the gas back on and removed my tag. No repairs had been made.
Will a judge whack an inspector for trying to save lives? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a personal decision. Maybe it’s a legal decision which varies by state.
Then again, if you can reliably pass on the liability and responsibility for safety to the listing agent, I’d say you’ve upheld your responibility as an inspector but reduced your financial risk from property damage.