Blog 3 Own HouseA seller is legally obliged to complete a “Disclosure Statement” when listing a house for sale. He must reveal any significant deficiencies of which he is already aware at that time. Many purchasers put a lot of credulity into this Statement, when regarding the house and property. However, this cannot be necessarily trusted. The seller may not even be aware of a significant problem in the house. Here are a couple of examples:

I inspected a house with a 16 year old furnace. It looked fairly clean and responded to all normal operating controls upon start-up. It looked like it was running properly, with heated air going to all of the rooms in the house. One inspection procedure which I perform, if possible, is to remove the burner cover for the combustion chamber. I can then insert a mirror inside the furnace and bounce my flashlight off it to look at the heat exchanger. In this particular furnace I discovered two large cracks approximately five inches long in separate areas if the exchanger. This can allow the exhaust flue gases to become mixed with the house supply air, which is then distributed throughout all the rooms. Upon further evaluation by a heating specialist, it was determined that it was necessary to have the furnace be immediately replaced. This was required to correct the safety of the current occupants of the house.

In another case I was checking the operation of a water heater. The tank was in newer condition and there was a draft diverter at the top. This is supposed to aid the exhaust gases up the flue to exit the house. When holding a lighter to the bottom of the flue, if the flame is drawn in towards the diverter it indicates proper upward drafting of the exhaust gases. In this case, the air at the top of the water tank blew my lighter out. In fact, the backdrafting even blew out my lighter flame when it was held 12 inches away from the diverter. There were hardly any, or no, exhaust gases leaving the interior of the house. Upon further investigation, I found that someone had cut a hole in the return air plenum for the furnace. This hole was sucking the air out of the furnace room where the water tank was, causing the water tank to backdraft its exhaust gases into the house.

One of the by-products of natural gas combustion can be CARBON MONOXIDE. In both these examples there were conditions which could have been fatal under certain circumstances. The owners of both houses had no idea of the danger they were in. In the second house, the owners had just recently paid to have the furnace serviced. It was that serviceman who cut the hole in the return air ducting, creating a major problem which had not ever been previously present. It is for this reason that one should hire only a Gasfitter who is “Class A” certified to do any similar work on gas-fired appliances. I will be giving more information about Carbon Monoxide in the next edition of this brochure.

One lesson here is that it is unwise to rely solely upon a “Disclosure Statement”. Neither owner knew anything of these problems. They stated that to the best of their knowledge, there was nothing wrong with these systems. And neither of them was lying about any conditions in the house. Could you be the person who bought one of those houses? If that had been the case, you could have been making one of the biggest mistakes which could affect both you and your family in your whole lifetime?

The solution to avoiding major possible disasters like this is to hire a qualified, professional Home Inspector. I am hired several times a year by people who plan to sell their house. I perform a “Pre-Listing Inspection” which is identical to a Pre-Purchase inspection. That way, the owners have a chance to address or correct any significant problems in advance. This may help any offer to purchase from potential buyers to proceed more smoothly without unforeseen major problems.

In fact, the above information indicates that it would be very prudent to hire an inspector EVEN IF YOU OWN YOUR OWN HOUSE and have been living in it for years. It is very rare that I inspect a home and find no conditions which MUST BE CORRECTED.   I am quite certain that I would find conditions in your own house which would also require correction. This is because those items could be significantly deficient, unsafe, or not functioning properly. If you would like to take the ultimate precautions toward safety in your own home, it would be wise to contact me at any time at the phone number listed below.

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