Does this happen offten?

Members and posters,

                           I recommended a licensed HVAC tech. service and evaluate a heating unit (gas) that had a cracked heat exchanger and look at a flue pipe that had improper slope and connections. The sellers real estate agent stated that the HVAC unit was in "working order" and that the seller wasn't going to fix it because it appears to be in "working order". I don't know if a HVAC tech. was indeed hired to evaluate the conditions that were stated in the report or not by the sellers real estate agent. This is not standard HI practice, but rather a preventive measure to ensure that someone is not hurt by carbon monoxide poising. I'm thinking of hiring a HVAC tech myself to look at it and learn at the same time. Then in turn hand the report from the HVAC tech. over to the buyers real estate agent and let it go from there. I am trying very hard to educate these people (real estate agents and my clients) before something terrible happens. I know the heat exchanger is cracked beyond repair and the flues are all wrong. Does this happen a lot around where you operate? Is what I want to do wrong?

That is the problem with reports that say the unit is “functional”. Functional means just that, it works. The possibility that it is dangerous does not come into play. You did the right thing in providing due diligence. If the people move in and find out that your recommendations were right on the money you mind find yourself in court as a witness for your clients. Legal issues aside, go to sleep with a clear conscience you did the right thing.

As in every occupation there are good and bad individuals, it sounds as if this sellers agent is up for an award for either being as dumb as a box of rocks, or is just thinking of the $$ at the end of the deal? If you know for a fact that it is cracked and reported same you have done your job. My contract allows my to share saftey concerns with others, I might be tempted to send a registed letter to the seller and broker.

It will still boil down to an as is deal, the seller is not required to do anything, even if it is for his own good, it is up to the buyer and the information that you provide to decide if the deal is right for them.

It sounds like you have the right attitude but the cost of the HVAC inspection is not yours to bear.

this agent sounds like a scum bag.:smiley:

Report your findings. It is up to the Client to determine which and how conditions found are to be addressed.

You are “not responsible for advice not taken.”

I don’t totally agree with that.

If you know that there is a cracked heat exchanger (beyond doubt) then you have a responsibility to get that equipment shut down. In actuality, if no one else will do it while you’re there, you should red tag the equipment and shut it down yourself. Notify the current homeowner and all parties concerned. I know someone’s going to say this is beyond the scope of home inspection, however I’ll give it to my lawyer and see if he can sue you! This is negligence.

The real estate agent that is dismissing your inspection report of this obvious health hazard should be reported to the Board of Realtors and have their license retracted.

If you saw a severe water leak at a second floor toilet while you’re inspecting, would you shut it off to prevent further damage to the house?

If someone dies in their sleep tonight, do you think someone will be knocking on your door wondering why they weren’t notified? Are you thingking you can fall back on your inspection agreement that says you will not discuss the inspection with others? I will guarantee you that will not protect you from the law.

Stand by your guns and don’t let people like this roll over you. Keep on reporting!

Very true. If this was false, I think many of us would find it hard to sleep at night, since some people will continuously blow off good advice, and hurt themselves.

Look at seat belt usage, smoke detectors with no batteries, and poorly lit stairwells.

We can only try, we can’t live other people’s lives.


How do you know the heat exchanger is cracked?

Does anyone have photo’s of cracked heat exchangers they would like to share with us. I for one have never come across one on an inspection.

Cracked heat exchangers are very difficult to see or should I say, almost impossible to see with out removing the item from the HVAC system. However, on a gas furnace, when you look at the pilot light and it is blue at the bottom, orange in the middle and bright yellow at the top of the flame, you indeed have a cracked heat exchanger. Well, about 99.9% of the time you do. I didn’t realize what I was getting into until I saw one pulled out of some of our rental properties and looked over the gas company mans shoulder and saw with my own eyes. He and I had a lengthy conversation about heat exchangers and what to look for. This happened about two years ago and I have been right on the money everytime I have suspected such. Hope this helps everyone as far as what to look for.

WOW John P.

You’re painting with an awfully wide brush with your statement “well about 99.9% of the time you do”.

In my 20+yrs in the HVAC Industry, pilot flame tips burning the various shades of blue,yellow,white would be used only as a possible indicator of a number of different possible defects. Normally it indicated a gas/air mixture problem, caused be any number of possible conditions that could be corrected by simple adjustments.
Yes, it may indicate a crack in the heat exchanger of a gas furnace, but more times, NOT.
Check with your local friendly HVAC Contractor for further clues to possibly finding/diagnosing a cracked H/E, or better yet leave it up to the PRO’s.

Not trying to be ugly or condisending, but I believe your Info. is flawed or at least questionable.

I will have to agree with Greg on this using the color of the pilot light to determine if a heat exchanger is cracked makes about as much sense as me trying to fly a Jumbo jet. As an inspector I never place my reputation on the line trying to diagnose a cracked heat exchanger. After 40 years in the HVAC business and have a good feel if the furnace needs to be check by a licensed contractor or not. I still make no comments as to if the exchanger is crack or not even if I personally think it does have a crack. If I was the seller of a home undergoing and inspection by John P and he made the statement that my heat exchanger was cracked and the licensed professional determined that it was not cracked Mister John P would be paying for the service call.

In this state If I determine that a furnace is unsafe and the home is vacant all that is required for the first step is to notify the gas company and let them red flag the furnace and or turn the gas off until sufficient repairs accomplished. Takes the liability away from me.

I NEVER say that I think the heat exchanger may be cracked at the inspection. I will look at the exchanger, combustion chamber (all different types) look for deposits, rust, pilot light, combustion chamber flames, etc. Sorry for the “I only look at the pilot light as an indicator” statement. Just didn’t want to get long winded or post something that was too long. I guess I should have further explained that I was with the gas company man to hear and learn about what to look for on gas heaters. We talked for about three hours and then took the heat exchanger off of a unit that was suspect to see it first hand on some rental property that my wife and I own. I could go on for hours on the subject and I guess I shouldn’t summarize what I look for with out going into more detail. A lot has to do with the age of the furnace and how long the building has been owned by the home seller. Anyway, sorry I rubbed you the wrong way. I ALWAYS leave it to pros to say weather it is in good condition or otherwise. I will not say anything “is” in bad condition, but will say it appears to be in need of service or further evaluation by a licensed HVAC tech.

Believe it or not, this one could hardly be seen until the furnace was completely removed.
I had a light inside the vestibule for the picture.



Who taught you that?

I have to go with these other guys on this one. There’s a whole list of things I can be wrong starting with a spider web! I would venture to say that 99% of the time a yellow tipped pilot flame is not the result of a cracked exchanger.

There are very few indicators outside of visually seeing the crack in the exchanger that you can safely base an assumption of a cracked heat exchanger.

About the only obvious indicator would be when you turn on the furnace and watch the fire when the blower comes on. When the fire rolls out at you, that’s a good indication of a cracked heat exchanger.

Ditto to what’s been said. Like anything else in Home inspections. Unless you can physically see it, you are pretty much guessing. It is a “visual inspection”. Again, many HI today are getting onto thin ice and analyzing or troubleshooting equipment / systems to the level of being well beyond the scope of a home inspection. I am not saying this to snap anyone’s garter or to embarrass anyone. I am alarmed by this trend because in the rush to be competitive and to provide that “little something extra” many HI are venturing into areas where they may not have the background, experience or training to make these kinds of calls. I am not concerned when someone with years of working in a trade goes out on a limb but when I see a brand new inspector (again, no one in particular here) make calls of this nature I literally cringe. Another element of this trend is the general public comes to expect this from ALL home inspectors and the paradigm is changed to the detriment of all HI and the HI industry. (i.e. Home inspectors quoting prices for repairs, etc.)

Mr. Anderson has the best thought for finding the cracked x changers. Watch the flame when the blower comes on. If it is inordantly disturbed, the exchanger is leaking positive pressure from the blower. then check it with your sensitive C.O. sniffer. In my state we are bound by law to immediately disclose a dangerous situation to the seller.

Doug, you are right, us old guys with many licenses and thousands of inspections may feel confident about stepping out there with an opinion, if you ain’t sure, say so and let somebody that is sure have a look. It is bad for business to kill your costomers with C.O.

I have seen this also, plus I look at the burner flames, not the pilot, I’ve seen them WhOOsh on start up, no flames at some ports, slow to start, and even rattle like crazy. But I think everyone agrees on one thing, it’s dangerous.

I try to make it as simple as possible. Observe all the usual things like rust, pilot and burner flame, etc. An older unit I am automatically suspicious. If there are any doubts, my CO detector is in good working order. Then I refer it, without stating definitively “the heat exchanger is cracked,” whether I THINK so or not. From there, I let the pros handle it, even though I have several years experience working on gas furnaces. As someone said in an earlier post, the only sure-fire way to know is to pull it.