Inspecting Furnaces. Please proof this new inspection article.

Very interesting article!

Through general observation it appears to me that home inspectors get into trouble and litigation frequently because of HVAC equipment.

I know that I have! And I know several others who have encountered these problems also.

The ironic part, is that I know more about HVAC than HVAC contractors that are deferred for further investigation. Still, I receive complaints.

Just as a suggestion, I would spell out a little more clearly that HVAC is a very complex science that not only can not be accurately evaluated by a home inspector, but also unlikely can be properly evaluated by an HVAC contractor. In all actuality, only an ASHRAE trained engineer can even come close to evaluating (analyzing) HVAC equipment.

This is not to put anyone down.
This is about reality!
HVAC/R principles and theory go against common sense and common perception.

I find myself all too often being confronted by subcontractors (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, structural engineers) who do not even have the equipment which I use in my home inspections to evaluate, never mind repair the situation that I am referring!

Standards of practice and state laws describe the responsibilities of the home inspector. I feel that raising the expectations of the client only sets up a home inspector for a law suit.

In my state, it clearly defines the responsibilities of the home inspector concerning HVAC. To even imply that a home inspection even scratch the surface of HVAC evaluation could be a problem. I think the article is a little verbose, leaving the client to believe more is being evaluated than actually can be.

I would recommend stronger verbiage addressing the limitations of HVAC evaluation not only by home inspectors but HVAC contractors as well.

You can have perfectly operating HVAC equipment attached to an improperly designed system that will not function as intended.

Though we like to show (“what we can do”) I think it is in the best interest of the home inspector not to lead the client on about HVAC evaluation when even the professionals have trouble doing the evaluation.

When it comes to HVAC inspection, I think it is the home inspector that should specifically spell out what their qualifications and capabilities are and do not mislead the client.If you have particular equipment or are certified to conduct certain tests, you should incorporate these in your home inspection offerings. It is only because so many lawsuits are filed over HVAC equipment that I propose this concern.

I tell my clients all the time, that the only heating system designed to withstand the test of time are those chimneys that we see across the Tennessee countryside (without a building attached) that outlasts the life expectancy of today’s HVAC equipment!

I use many articles published by NACHI. But it is my recommendation that home inspector is use any article concerning HVAC with care. I feel the same about other ancillary devices such as mold, radon etc.

I have posted this link in the past, but if you haven’t read it, this expounds a little more on my opinion;

I didn’t notice anything about baseboard heat distribution might want to reference this for us in the northeast.

The article goes over how to inspect, identify and describe a furnace. A baseboard itself is not a furnace.

Listing all of the different types of furnaces that use all of the different types of fuels (gas, oil, coal, wood, multi-fuels, electric) in this article is unnecessary and off-topic. The different ways to describe a gas furnace is used for an example.

** Electric baseboard**
I would bet that many inspectors would not identify and describe an electric baseboard as a furnace. Whether or not electricity can be considered a fuel is not important in the article, since an electric furnace functions in the same manner as the other fossil-burning furnaces - that being - the electric furnace uses electricity as a fuel (or energy source), heats air, and the air is distributed.

** Water and steam baseboard**
Note that air – not water or steam – is used as the medium to convey the heat in a furnace. This characteristic distinguishes warm-air heating systems from other types of heating systems.

In the near future, I’ll be writing more about baseboard heating systems. Again, there are many ways to identify and describe heating systems. One method is by describing the medium that conveys the heat from its source to the space being heated. There are only four basic heat-conveying mediums: air, steam, water, and electricity.

To inspect a heating and cooling system using the best non-invasive, visual-only inspection techniques as required by the Standards of Practice, an inspector should be professionally trained.

Learn how to inspect the HVAC system by visiting and check out InterNACHI’s online video course titled “Advanced HVAC Training for Inspectors.”

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