Tales from the trenches

Originally Posted By: tallen
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.

Posted with permission

An inspector shared a letter with me from an attorney demanding
> fifteen thousand dollars. The inspector panicked and, having read one
> of my articles, called to get my opinion. The letter accused him of
> criminal negligence in his evaluation of a furnace, claiming that
> without the intercession of the local utility company his clients and
> their children could have died from carbon-monoxide poisoning. These
> are the facts as I understand them. The inspector had identified the
> location, the age, the manufacturer, and even the capacity of the
> furnace, and reported that the visible portions of its combustion
> chamber were slightly rust-contaminated, and that the return-air
> compartment and circulating fan needed to be cleaned by a specialist
> before the close of escrow. His clients never followed his
> recommendation, but soon after escrow closed an employee of the local
> gas company refused to light the furnace and red-tagged it with a
> generic document that warns of the potential hazards of mixing the
> bi-products of combustion with the circulating air. An HVAC contractor
> was called in, and assured the client that he and his family could
> have died because the base of the furnace was unsealed, and added one
> or two more nails to the inspector's legal coffin. For reasons
> unknown, the furnace vent had been wrapped in fiberglass, which the
> inspector did not report on, but which the HVAC contractor reported
> was an imminent fire hazard. The contractor also reported that the
> furnace's flexible gas feed pipe was a safety hazard, and that it
> should be rigid where it passes through the casing of the furnace, but
> he did not say that this was not a code requirement when the furnace
> had been installed. Finally, he reported that the ducts were insulated
> with a known asbestos-containing-material, but failed to report that
> he had pulled back fiberglass blankets from the ducts in order to
> recognize the original asbestos insulation concealed beneath. To
> compound the problem, he told the occupants that he could not correct
> the deficiencies until the asbestos was removed, which left them angry
> and still without heat. This tale is not likely to have a happy
> ending, because an attorney has been involved. The inspector might win
> in court, citing his contract and standards, but it's not likely. What
> is likely is that his insurance company will negotiate a settlement.
> What can all of us learn from this? We must all resolve to do an
> almost perfect inspection: check for light leaking from around the
> base of a furnace; point out the absurdity of insulating a heat vent with
fiberglass, recommend upgrading any gas pipe that doesn't meet current
standards, and make darn sure that we identify ducts for what they are. Our
errors and omissions insurance make us all targets.
> Keith Swift
> President, Porter Valley Software, Inc.

I have put the past behind me,
where , however, it now sits, making rude remarks.


30 Oct 2003-- 29 Nov2005

Originally Posted By: rpierson
This post was automatically imported from our archived forum.

Great Article!

Keith is a very knowledgeable inspector. His "Tales from the Trenches" always help me, to stay on my toes.

In some cases I feel, that could easily be me! I pride myself on detail, but as Keith says "I carry inspection insurance for the same reason I carry automotive insurance, you never know!"

It would be nice for all inspectors to view these monthly "Tales". You can check at [url]www.PVSoftware.com [/url]for further info.