Need an opinion

This picture was taken in a closet where the air hander was. You can see the bottom of the unit and the white pipe that runs over to the drain is the condensate. I wrote in the report and explained to the buyer that when this trap is dry in the winter, the opportunity exists for sewer gas to be sucked back into the home and dispersed via the HVAC system. The seller agreed to fix it and the HVAC tech says that there is no problem with it and it is common and to code. I explained again to the buyer my concerns and asked her to get this HVAC tech to write her a letter documenting that the system was safe, which I know will not happen.

Am i incorrect about what this picture represents?

Edit: This is the letter the HVAC guy wrote, I am scratching my head

To whom it Concerns,
On July 24th,2O11 I performed an HVAC inspection on a property located at xxx., Virginia
Beach, VA. The area of concern was due to a home inspection stipulating the HVAC condensate
drain being tied into the sewage line and possibility of sewage gases escaping into the house via the
HVAC system. Upon my inspection and the assistance of the home seller and a neighbor, the systems in
these townhomes were designed in all units in this manner. There was no evidence present to suggest
sewer gases have been escaping into the HVAC system for this townhouse. By all accounts the system is
safe for use and occupant.


If the HVAC tech signed his letter, you’re off the hook. If anything should happen, like maybe, gases or foul odors do enter the house, the HVAC will be obligated to correct the system at his own expense. If nothing happens…

The HVAC tech that signed the letter is an idiot and has no clue what he is talking about. He signed the letter let him be responsible. Unless the furnace is a 90% furnace and produces condensate in the heat mode there will be sewer gas entering the air stream of the furnace as soon as the condensate evaporates from the trap. In Oklahoma that would be about the middle of November

This is wrong for various reasons. You reported it and that is your job. The buyer takes it from here. IMO, you should stick to your report and tell your client as much.

Good catch Brad.
I have never seen a design like that with a drain inside plus I hate when they design returns that way to begin with.(the dirt sticks)
Guess they have something against sheet metal.

I find it pretty interesting or strange the HVAC tech. stated:
“Upon my inspection and the assistance of the home seller and a neighbor, the systems in these townhomes were designed in all units in this manner”.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone use a home seller and neighbor as supporting credentials or for justification.
As you stated in your report, it may become an issue. What else can you do?

That doesn’t surprise me even a little. I get the same lame response from a few HVAC contractors on a specific tract in my area, where the homes were built with the gas-dryer venting through the return-air compartment.

Rather than fix it (which is their job), they want to discredit the home inspector for making the call.

It is important for us to be realistic.

We recommend “licensed contractors” to repair or replace the material defects that we find while we often forget to remind ourselves that “licensed contractors” were often the mental midgets who created the material defect that we are reporting on.

When the parties to the sale consult with these “licensed contractors” who, as this one, admits to condoning inferior building practices on a regular basis — we share the blame for recommending the consultation in the first place, IMO.

I think our reports should be more forceful in communicating the simple fact that “XXX is wrong and needs to be fixed. Client is advised to find a competent contractor who can recognize the defect and is qualified and able to implement corrective measures”. When the client calls to tell you that the HVAC Tech they talked to says “It’s okay”, we should simply suggest they keep looking until they can find a competent HVAC Tech that can recognize the inefficient and harmful manner in which the observed conditions can affect the indoor air environment of the home - and leave it at that.

Occasionally we get an HVAC contractor (actually one of their employees) who will second guess one of my discrepancies and say things like the HI doesn’t know what he is talking about until they find out I am certified in HVAC with EPA and then they go “Oh… yeah, well he has a point” then the tap dancing starts to which I love to watch them doing the old soft shoe. I live for those moments, especially when I turn out to be correct. I have heard some say things that are total BS but then I have heard all kinds of contractors blow smoke up the unsuspecting customers bohinney. I can’t tell how many times I have recommended repairs by a licensed contractor only to have the sellers, their agent hire the very same people who did the dirty deed to start with…they of course defend themselves until you start pointing out the lack of industry standard compliance…notice I did not use the code word…you don’t have to…they know what you mean.

One that consistently shows up is the HVAC guys are the ones who have been “servicing” the equipment over the years and then one of us comes along and points out the units have not been cleaned in years or obvious discrepancies they should have taken care of…they have been charging the customers but not doing the work…

I think you’re on to something there Jim. I think I’m going to implement a variation of this wording into my recommendations.