Play: "Spot the problems"

It’s time to “play: Spot the problems!!”


Cat 1 ( Vent assisted) furnace installed inside the living space (unit)
120,000 BTU
No manual near unit.

OK Who is our first contestant?..:smiley:
See pics:


I will take a shot.

I would think the multipe elbows at the flue doesnt meet the manufactures instructions or the American Gas Association venting tables.

Hard to tell from the pics but the return air seems Questionable.

I take it that is a supply duct that is protruding through the drywall. Nice job of patching the drywall.

The white extension cord wiring. Where does ot go? Nice job of running through the filter.

Is that the door to the furnace? Does it lack combustion air?

I am sure there are more issues. Looks like a homeowner or ametuer install.



Just for starters

Handy man installation in a closet?

Insufficient combustion air

No cold air return

Improper electrical connections

Can’t tell if vent is “B” vent

Insufficient clearance from combustibles (I assume second pick is point up?

It the clamp on the gas pipe bonding or grounding?


  • No drip leg on gas line.
    - No power shut off

Good Good,

Amateur install…Yes
Electric wiring …Yes… Extention cord to lamp fixture (plugged in) at lamp fixture on ceiling…

Return air Duct :shock: Minimum 10 feet away from unit? NOT !
Blower motor is “pulling combustion air” from burners at this “install”:eek:

Flue…UGH:roll: 6" clearance…NOT… Single wall flue to “smashed” ceiling “connection”… to “b” vent inside “hole” going horizontal…to roof penetration…At least they have the sucker vented to the outside…:smiley:

Combustion air requirements… Maybe large enough “free” area to supply BUT return air duct issue…

No Gas pipe drip leg as per Peoples Energy (Chicago)…

Anything else ???

No door louvres

Question: They don’t use “drip legs” in your area?

Sure do require them (Gas line Drip legs), per our local gas company training.

It’s amateur night …tonights project…Let’s heat the house and see if we

“Survivor” the Real thing…Coming to a channel near you…:o

Some people refer to them as dirt legs. I do believe there is a difference between them as I remember a post but not the specifics.

I usually call dirt legs drip or drip legs dirt. HUH!!

Nice post!!


The gas valve should be above the union.

Yep :wink:

It’s a indication of the logic of the installer…hmmm… I can disconnect the
gas line after I shut off the gas…:D:D:D

Hey guys, question for you all. When I see all these problems like this (like I did the other day) I learned not to verbally address all the problems to the client and realtor present, it just over burdens them. If I see so many issues, I recommend a qualified HVAC tech to correct problems I document and any other things that they may happen upon. My question is how do you address this when you find so many things wrong that if you stated them all vocally I found that the client gets panicy and the realtor getting hot under the collar with you.( And this was what you found with just the furnace) before you know it, your painting a picture to everyone that this home is a mess of problems and handy work. Please help me with your ideas on how you would inspect a home when finding so many problems in 1 or 2 areas alone. Thanks

Can I use these photo’s in some Power Point Presentations?

I want permission before I just go grabbing things.

Or better yet would you like to E-mail them to me?

You can use these pics.
If you want I can email directly to you?

Yep being too “verbal” can be dangerous… What happens when you forget to put it in your report?..:wink:
When I encouter a situation like this , I tell the client it needs a complete evaluation by a qualified contractor and why… BUT if it is life threatening then the whole place gets my spiel… IF they (Realtor)don’t like it …one phone call to my local gas company trainer/ contact and the gas supply just may be locked OFF until repairs are made. Sorry that is what my training is for… Not for saving a commission but for saving lives…
I had a realtor whine and tell my client things like this where not a big issue…:roll: I took over at that point… Sorry Realtor…:wink: shut the hell up and look at my credentials…

Now if the whole place is a “POS” or “Dozer bait” then we are having a heck of a day and a “novel” to be written up…UGH…:frowning: Been there many times…
I bring some “reality” to my client… I try and understand what they are hoping to accomplish from this “investment”…
Listen and learn ,get the vibe from them on what they want out of this place.
Primary living , rental income, investment or just “looking”…
Dashing someones dreams is not fun but saving someone a heck of a lot of problems can be very very rewarding…

:)no fire stop at drywall penitration.matt

What Pat said!

I point out the DANGEROUS stuff and suggest they get the whole thing evaluated further.

Case in point- I would tell the customer there are serious issues with the installation of this unit. Have it evaluated before closing.



Come on. I am your President!

Pretty PLEEEEESE! :mrgreen:

Pat makes a point that is very important. Please read:

Our Chapter has a special relationship with the local gas company (People’s Energy). They give, three or four times a year, a course specifically for home inspectors (and give a $100 discount to NACHI members AND offering 12 hours of state approved CE!). It is 2 days, 6 hours a day (and they supply the food! GOOD FOOD!) complete with classroom theory AND practical work (in a HUGE lab with every single type of gas fired equipment you could EVER imagine.) They teach and then mess up a whole bunch of furnaces, water heaters, stoves, space heaters, boilers and whatever else you can think of.


The VP of special projects walks in and gives each of us his PERSONAL phone number and tells us that if we find anything that is a potential danger, and if we run into a Realtor or builder or seller that wants to make trouble or doubts the quality of our training, just give them a call.

One has to remember. If there is a ‘serious event’, it makes the late news and the gas company gets blamed (can you say ‘lawsuit’?).

They come but (real fast) and evaluate the situation. If repairs a are needed, they offer to fix it (for a fee, and for about 80% of what a plumber or licensed HVAC giy would charge). If the party says, “I will call someone, tomorrow.”, they just smile and wish them a good day.

Then they shut off the gas.

They keep it off until the problem is fixed and they verify that it is fixed. They refuse to get sued for the lack of knowledge (or urgency) of a Realtor or home owner.

This is a cool thing. The gas company using NACHI inspectors as extensions of their eyes and ears, in a partnership to get these situations fixed AND to keep the public safe, many times, in spite of themselves.

Kudo’s to Pat and People’s Energy.

I agree that there is no sediment leg and that the shutoff valve should be above the union. As to an emergency shutoff switchv, it may be on an opposing wall (which is acceptable). The wire seen to the right of the furnace does not go through the filter, and is likely a thermostat wire, which is low tension. Sloppy, but technically not a problem.

As to combustion air, it cannot be determined from the photo, but if there is a louvered door on this closet, it’s fine. Firestop is needed at the ceiling penetration.

Return air ducting may be undersized, but this installation is tied to existing ductwork in the home. The comment regarding a 6’ distance for return ducting was insteresting.

Question: Was this installation inspected and approved by the AHJ? If so, the best one can do is to refer it to a licensed HVAC contractor, one of which (I assume), installed this unit.

Heating systems are typically installed wherever they can fit. As ductwork is installed, and phased inspections take place, all involved are aware of the rules and constraints. And, as with most codes, there are exceptions and interpretations.

Joe FYI (local conditions may vary), in this area we regularly see installations of furnaces that are not right, but have been passed by the AHJ. Cat 4 furnaces with no combustion air pipe run, cat 3 furnaces connected in tandem with conventional draft water heaters and very confined spaces with insufficent combustion air. We have learned that simply putting a louvered door (which is only done about half the time, in any case) do not always allow for enough air. Metal registers, mounted high and low, work much better and allow for more air. This is according to the local gas company.

I have run into many cases where the AHJ inspector is there and approves intallations that are not complient with the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Maybe it’s just a Chicago thing.

There can be a great difference between what the AHJ OKs and what is correct and safe. In any case, we are not code inspectors and have no authority to required, but we can (and should) educate our clients about the proper (and safe) way.