Seller claims furnace doesn't work

I did any inspection today and the buyer’s agent told me that the seller claims that the furnace is only running at 30% and is in need of replacement. It was an electric furnace with a heat pump. Definitely older units probably 26 years old. Both operated for me The furnace there was about a 25° difference between intake and exhaust temperature heat pump was about 35 to 40 degrees difference. It was too cold to run the AC on the heat pump. Did I not look at something? How would somebody go about knowing that’s running at only 30%. The furnace has not been serviced since 2014 so doesn’t appear like there was a tech in there recently they gave them that kind of information.

I did pull the front covers off and the unit was not excessively dirty.

My only thought is maybe some of the elements inside aren’t working right? Do other inspectors pull off additional covers exposing heater elements in the furnace. I have never torn into an electric furnace to try to find the elements. I’ve watched a couple videos and the ones I saw said you have to remove a whole bunch of stuff.

Ask for disclosure from the vender to put that hearsay to rest.
Other than that, list the serial and model numbers, age, heating btu, condition and move along.


I would thank the seller for the information and send an addendum to the client saying that the heating system doesn’t work anymore according to the seller. and is in need of repair.


Damn nice of the seller to disclose his percieved info.
Perhaps issue an addendum on your company letterhead explaining you did not observe a deficiency, but the owner now states it is deficient.
Recommend a licensed contractor’s further evaluation/scope of any required pairs/costs.
Good luck Cory. :cowboy_hat_face:


Might need a cleaning. As you said has had a lack of servicing by a technician.
I wouldn’t dig into the equipment especially electric heat. IMHO It would probably break on me.

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Both good advice…seller will have a hard time getting his foot out of his mouth…honest though. :smile:

What would you do once exposed?
Look for dirt?
Test resistance?
Say “Alright now I found it” While slowly putting the cover back on.
I guess you can always take some hvac tech classes.
Maybe there is technical college near you if you are interested in the inner workings of furnaces and heat pumps.
Testing HVAC (Not limited to Electric Heat) devices can require advanced knowledge beyond using only the controls provided. IE; the thermostat.
In reference to heating elements they are subject to extreme heat and can become brittle. I would not expose the elements out of concern that this would be going into the invasive test territory.
Again if you would like to test the heating elements I would advise getting a basic knowledge of the mathematics involved and the procedures and tools to test in a non invasive method.

I would not waste my time with second or third party information without a report. I would run the controls (Thermostat/switches) as I normally would and come to my own conclusion. (You can check to see that the heat comes on, measure the air temperature in the room wait till the next time the furnace turns on and measure how long it takes to heat the room etc)

The temperature difference is used when measuring AC mode using the wet bulb temperature. Utilizing the proper equipment is critical to determine whether the temperature differential is within the units ideal range. If you base the test off of measuring just the air temperature without factoring the humidity or dew point the comparison may direct you to the false conclusion that it is out of range of the performance standards.

Testing the heating “efficiency” capabilities of a furnace would require a different method all together.

In conclusion a further education on testing gas/oil furnaces, Ac, electric resistance, heat pumps, geothermal systems would be advised so that you may provide a more accurate report to your client.

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It seems contradictory…unless you use a wet and dry bulb for temperature normally?

One could test each element for amperage draw under load, pretty easily, though.

Those were separate statements. Sounded like he was taking the temperature differential
I wanted to know how he was taking the temperature differential.
I will reference the proper testing procedure not by arguing just asking where the Probes are placed.

I agree, if the technician was qualified and using the proper equipment

Oh, it looks like you were asking where he put his test probes to check the wet and dry bulb temperature…mea culpa. :wink:

I was asking that.
Sorry my blood sugar is low.
I phrased that improperly.
I should have said Wet Bulb temperature. The humidity has to be taken into account when taking the temperature differential.
When I was saying operating controls I was meaning the controls that are readily available. Ie, the thermostat,

No problem, we’re on the same page, now…which helps others, too. :smile:

I think I just have to stop.
This form of communication is too difficult for me to get people to understand. They are not as patient as yourself.
I understand what I did wrong when I first joined and sometimes I don’t realize that I should not try to argue a point. When I understand both sides and agree with both.

Whatever you think is best for you, Simon. Most of us are here to help when we can.


I edited my earlier reply. It seems to me that you are not applying the proper test in this situation.

I hope this post is able to help you in your endeavor to become a top notch inspector. Keep up the desire to learn.
Here is a link to a site that provides useful information regarding the calculations involved in assessing certain aspects of HVAC.

You can find a table to use this information to your advantage. You will need to garner enough information to benefit. I hope that you are excited to utilize you algebraic skills.

What I may deduce is if all of the factors regarding the systems are constant the heat pump is producing more heat than the furnace.

Larry gave a example of a way to determine how well appliances are operating by calculating the amp draw.

There are tools to measure amp draw that do not require probing. So I suggest a contact-less amp meter. Be safe sir.
There are tables available that provide common amp draws of appliances.

Here is some information for you as long as you have solid math skills and basic electronic skills you should be fine.,can%20also%20be%20expressed%20as%20joules%20per%20second.

You have a good day Sir

Should be on the sellers disclosure form and the realtor and buyer should be aware of it. Note it and move on. Recommend replacing or repair by a licensed HVAC tech.


We lived in a townhouse in Virginia. The first summer we turned on the AC. It didn’t cool the house down after running for 48 hours. We couldn’t afford to replace the system so we lived with it for 3 years. We decided to move into a house and we had an HVAC tech to look at it. He told us to turn the system on overnight. When he arrived the house was cooled down and he said there was nothing wrong with it.

If you ran the heat pump you can run the AC. It is never too cold to run the AC on a heat pump as the compressor is indoors (little chance of freezing) and you already ran it in heat mode (the compressor operates in both modes). What you do want to check is that it is capable of switching modes (reversing valve operates).

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