Heating contractor brought to inspection

A friend of mine was selling his house and the buyers brought their own heating contractor to the inspection. He indicated the furnace had a cracked heat exchanger and red flagged it. Now the home owner was without heat. Funny though because the home owner the week before had a furnace contractor inspect the furnace and indicated it was working fine. The buyers convinced the home owner to split the cost of a new HE furnace. This sound suspicious.
Anyone else heard of this type of thing happening?

Hey, it’s either cracked or it isn’t. That’s pretty easy to prove.

There’s a couple aerosols on the market that would be super easy for a home inspector to use. Spray them into the return side, and if there’s a leak, the flame turns funny colors.

Previously I worked for Enbridge… In Canada and more specifically Ontario they are the Gas Utilitiy. I couldn’t tell you how many times I have dealt with customers who were having a simple annual cleaning only to find out there’s a crack and get red tagged. Often those customers would request a second opinion and for the most part the tag stood although from time to time (very rare) it was reversed. I would suggest it is much more common for a crack to go unnoticed but noticed on second inspection. They can be hard to find hense the need for inspection mirrors.

Hopefully in this case since the purchasers seem to have a buddy that is a heating contractor they will get a good deal on a new unit and both parties will be happy with the results. At least they’ll have heat while they wait for the closing!

BTW yeah it is suspicious… could be though that the second guy looked harder for the problem!

Makes perfect sense to me. Almost EVERY time I call out a roof leak verified active with a thermal infrared camera or a moisute meter or both and the roofer cannot find the leak. Well he never even entered the attic. How can people make money when they can even properly assess the conditions in a professional and honest manner? Just wonder how they make money is all.

The unfortunate consequence to the story is that a prospective buyer brought along a “professional” who happened to find a problem (using non-invasive inspection techniques, with no disassembly???!) that resulted in a situation where the occupants no longer had heat or the ability to heat water or cook. This amazing discovery instantly rendered the house un-inhabitable.

The end result was the creation of a situation where the owner was, in fact, FORCED to install a new system. Typically, nothing a home inspector finds will have such a dramatic impact on the dynamics of a prospective purchase.

It was very convenient how the 2nd contractor, hired by the BUYER, stumbled across this issue and duly reported it to the gas company.

Inspection from last week, 20 year old furnace with heavy flaking rust. Called the unit out to be at the end of it’s useful life and that an HVAC contractor should do a complete heat exchanger inspection prior to use.
Seller hired his own contractor and the guy said that all exchangers rust and that it should be okay. I don’t know if he put that in writing yet.

Joe, your argument is flawed. First of all he didn’t choose to report it he has a duty to report it. Imagine the liability if he didn’t. Also it would not leave them without hot water. Since when does a HVAC appliance not have its own shut off? If it didn’t all the more reason they needed a gas fitter to attend the property. This isn’t a poor person situation. This is a thank god everyone is safe situation. I applaud the buyers fitter. At least he found the problem. Hey when they take the furnace out to install the new one I would think the heat exchanger will be fully accessible to the current owner to see the crack for themselves.

He didn’t red tag it to inconvenience the current owner but rather to protect them. Yes it is convenient that the buyers guy found it but lets not jump to conclusions. Maybe he had more skill than the first guy **Think about this for a minute. Have you ever been called out to do a reinspect because the first inspector didn’t find something? Does that make you the bad guy??? I don’t think you’d want to be painted with that brush. **And naturally this likely wouldn’t be seen during a HI because our SOP says we don’t inspect the heat exchanger. But by god if I saw it I would stress the immediate threat this causes and would likely have the same end result.

With Respect,

Sean Corcoran

Got a link to that product?


You make that sound so easy!
If it was only so easy…

And if any of you think you’re going to go buy a can of hairspray and start locating cracked heat exchangers, think again! The only way to ensure a crack (or lack of) is to dismantle the unit and completely remove the heat exchanger.

Leave this job to the electricians (whoops I mean HVAC contractors)!

Right on, David! In the odd case, it may be that easy but that’s not the rule.

You do not have to remove the heat exchanger in all instances to find a crack! Some heat exchangers have been known to crack at the front vestibule or other readily visible areas.

And your point is?

One in 500 million heat exchanger cracks are visible?!

Also, with a high efficiency furnace the combustion chamber/heat exchanger (s) is under negative pressure therefore no spillage of dangerous gas should occur even if there is a crack.


The point is - you do not have to remove HE to find cracks, not in all instances as you indicated.

Yea right! Whatever you say boss.

I didn’t say you had to remove it every single time to find a crack. There is about 2% of the heat exchanger visible, most of which is not where the cracks form. I’m saying that the “only way that you can be sure” that there is not a crack, is to remove the heat exchanger.

How many heat exchangers have you replaced?
How many of those were visible from the burner compartment?

Enough to know that you don’t have to remove the HE to find all cracks.

And obviously not enough to know that you can’t rely on visual inspection of the heat exchanger either as an HVAC contractor or a home inspector (regardless of the type of test equipment you may own).

So what about a Combustion analyzer? I am not in the biz of replacing HE or taking the furnace apart to find one, as you suggested. Economically if the furnace is newer its likely under warranty, if not and its older its most likely cheaper to replace the whole furnace.

What about it, You tell me.