Heat exchanger reporting suggestion

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

Actually, I do not inspect heat exchangers during a home inspection…

A home inspection is a visual assessment of the property. Some things should be left alone as not to entice lawyers and their “sues a lot” clients from considering that this type of inspection as part of an expected during a home inspection.

I have hunted down cracked heat exchangers for a good portion of my previous life and there is no 100% accurate way of making this determination without total dismantling of the equipment (of which the heat exchanger will then probably leak after it is reassembled)!

If you see something, report it. If there’s an indication of a cracked heat exchanger (such as flame rollout), report it as requiring further evaluation.

But to put in your report a clean bill of health concerning the heat exchanger is an open invitation for trouble.

Why would anyone even mention the heat exchanger as part of the inspection in the first place? To try to impress the client has to how thorough you are over the next guy?

I am working with the national home inspector examination board concerning the national home inspector examination as to what is covered in the examination and what home inspectors should be expected to know. Though home inspectors inherently love to add fluff to their home inspection standards and take on other licensed people’s responsibility in the process (such as termite inspection, mold inspection, water inspection, HVAC inspection, etc.), I am taking the stance that home inspector should not be asked about these issues as they are ancillary to the home inspection and there should be no reference to implicate a home inspector to take on the responsibilities of other licensed entities.

The home inspector’s responsibility is to turn on the equipment and see if it responds to operating controls. If you have the unit running the entire time you’re doing the inspection and the indoor environment is outside comfort limits then you should make a note of this (is it comfortable or is it not?). Taking temperature differentials, refrigeration pressures or dismantling the equipment in any way (beyond owner access panels) is beyond home inspection responsibilities from which most home inspection lawsuits originate.

If you cannot answer yes or no with a simple one-time test, it should not be within the purview of home inspection. You test the GFCI outlet, it trips or it doesn’t. You flush the toilet and it properly flushes or it doesn’t. There is no gas gauge on HVAC equipment to determine a full charge or an insufficient charge. Even the HVAC technician (who is certified) must perform numerous steps and evaluations to make this determination.

We cannot even answer yes or no to “what is the sub cooling temperature of the suction line at the compressor?” as a yes or no answer because even that significant point has “variables”.

just my opinion…

Exactly David, well said!

I believe David covered it…

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

I am starting to thinking maybe Nathan is an ok vendor. However, I hate when he says stupid **** like this. Anyone else agree?

I don’t really like Mr. Anderson but I have the highest respect for him. He blows my mind with his obvious wealth of knowledge and expertise with HVAC and Infared imaging. (I am sure he knows a metric crap ton about other systems as well) He provides a level of service us new inspectors should strive to meet. For you to say he is scared to inspect and report on a heat exchanger and is providing a lower level of service because of that is absolute ignorance. I am sure he could write a book on them before you could follow up with the Alarm lead I’m about to send you.

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

As I signed off; “just my opinion…”

You have yours and I have no heartburn over that.

Not to disagree with you but to answer your question, lots of inspectors (try) to check heat exchangers. You probably know better than me how many get sued over HVAC equipment.

Believe it or not, someone tried to sue me! Unfortunately I had about 18 photographs of his equipment that he didn’t know about and wrote two pages in his report of how bad his existing equipment was. I also documented that he told me his father was in HVAC and he didn’t care about the condition of the equipment…

Limiting your inspection in writing is not very effective in my humble opinion. As the above example is evidence of, people don’t read and going to court to force them to read what you wrote is expensive.

What is even more expensive is lawyers that don’t read and don’t know what they’re talking about and you have to explain it to them in a court of law.

Yes it is one of the most expensive mechanical components in the house. It also keeps you comfortable. Being “uncomfortable” gets people very “irritable”!

It is also one of the most deadly appliances in the house! When someone dies in a house you inspected from a cracked heat exchanger/ carbon monoxide poisoning event, there had better not be even a “hint” that you assured them or made a call about the condition of the equipment that you knowingly are incapable of inspecting due to the lack of access!

Have you seen that commercial (I don’t know what it’s for) but somebody says over a barbecue grill that they are 99.9% sure of something. His buddy says “so that means you don’t know what you are talking about!?”

30 to 40% is a considerable stretch as to the surface area of the complete heat exchanger which you feel can be inspected. I would call it closer to 5 to 10% at best.

The covers we take off are not the covers that need removing to see 30% of the heat exchanger.

When we test furnaces as home inspector’s we “look for” indicators that something deviates from the norm. When the blower motor comes on and the color of the flame changes you can be 99.9% sure that you have a heat exchanger leak. However, not all heat exchangers are on the positive pressure side of the air handler, some are on the negative pressure side. This means not only do you suck fire backwards out of the heat exchanger (which cannot be seen), it also has a higher potential of sucking the carbon monoxide into the house versus a positive side heat exchanger leak that forces the carbon monoxide back up the flu and into a rollout condition which is obviously visible.

I’m not saying that we avoid looking at the operation or be afraid to look at a heat exchanger, but to mention that you inspected the heat exchanger when in fact you are only looking at 5% of it and that there is not a 100% sure fired test to determine the crack without physically taking the unit apart and visually examining it is troubling to me.

As for reporting rust and corrosion on the burners, the only reason I report this is because some insurance companies that provide home warrantees will not cover pre-existing conditions and they consider the rust a pre-existing condition (even though it is not). I don’t want my client wasting money expecting they are covered under a home warranty when they are not and I urge them to read the fine print with a magnifying glass.

I’m not making this up because I personally encountered a home warranty company that tried to screw me without knowing who they were dealing with. We settled out-of-court.

I hope you don’t perceive this as a “lecture” because it’s just my opinion and a little biography on me (which you asked for at the start of this thread).


I’m not sure that’s saying much, there aren’t that many mechanicals. A/C is about double a furnace’s cost, water heater is cheaper… maybe you could clarify that statement, are you talking heat exchanger replacement or whole furnace?

Anyway, I do check what little I can see, but it seems every year there is less and less which can be seen. I don’t open sealed burner chambers on 90% furnaces but I will remove the rollout cover on an older unit. I have a borescope which I wouldn’t dare shove into a heat exchanger for exactly the reason’s David mentioned, too much liability. If I did, I better darn well find a crack and recommend replacement because that’s what the HVAC guy will do who comes after me.

I look at what I can but I don’t report on anything beyond obvious defects and whether the unit ran or not. I see no need to mention things outside the SOP unless there is a defect I choose to report.

A better approach: disclaim the heat exchanger entirely, but if you see something fishy report it anyway. Voila!

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

Similar to my approach.

I always recommend periodic service of the HVAC equipment including a of the heat exchanger.

I report anything obvious but the fact is we are very limited in our ability to access most of the heat exchanger on a typical unit.

Nathan when inspecting sump pumps back in the old days did you examine the motor coils on the unit if not why not ?

Nathan back in the old days of your long Inspection career did you video scan the inside plumbing drains and if not why not?

Nathan when inspecting the wall outlets back in the day did you remove all receptacles and examine the conductor connection points and if not why not?

Thanks for the advice and all but you are overstepping your bounds on the NACHI forum as a vendor by suggesting members are not performing adequately when following SOP
and suggesting they must overstep that SOP according to your mere personal preferences.

It is like a personal insult.

Sorry buddy but just saying like it is.

I have to ask Nathan.

Have you ever checked a heat exchanger?

Excellent question

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.

And just how did you check them?

I think someone stepped in a bucket of something here and the smell is getting terrible. I forcast a 5 page + thread coming on Run with it guys;-)