View Full Version : Sic transite gloria mundi

Michael Thomas
11-26-2007, 11:11 AM
First picture is a heating duct in a floor slab seen from above through a floor register in a circa 1950s ranch.

Second picture is a detail of a picture of a different duct identified as "Transite" at:


Pretty similar, eh?

On that basis I reported it as possible asbestos containing material.

Went out there today and met the client's HVAC contractor WRT other issues.

Also, brought along my wife's tiny Kodak camera, which was small enough to get past the narrow register opening and operate once I got it down into the duct.

That's the next three pictures.

HVAC guy says: "Only way to know for sure is to have it tested, but that's NOT Transite, that's clay tile. Almost never see that, everything in a slab that age around here is either Transite or formed concrete concrete. I've seen it maybe once or twice. But you can see the brown glaze color, the sections are only 2' long (Transite came in 10' lengths, and is gray), and you can see the clay tile in cross-section in the pictures."

Client will get it tested to be sure, but of course is happy.

I of course am somewhat chagrined.

Gunnar Alquist
11-26-2007, 04:43 PM
From the pics, it looks like terra cotta. At least to me. I was not there, so you are the best judge.

Jim Luttrall
11-26-2007, 04:51 PM
I of course am somewhat chagrined.
Why? You reported what you saw and I will bet you would do the same thing in the next similar circumstance. Even the HVAC guy hedged his bet by mentioning testing is "the only way to know for sure".
No need for any embarrassment in my book.
Be happy for your client. It still looks like there are some issues with those ducts.

Michael Thomas
11-26-2007, 05:05 PM

Now that I've seen the inside of the ducts, I'm 99.9% sure the HVAC guy has it right.

The reason I was looking at that inspect-ny pic in the first place is that all the Transite I've seen is "gray", but this was a brown, unglazed material. If you look at the first two pics the interior of the duct at the inspection is an almost exact visual match for the "Transite" material in the reference pic, and on that basis I identified it as "similar to" in the report.

Now, I'm wondering abut the ID of the reference material itself.

In any case my objective in positing was to alert others to the possibility of clay tile heating ducts in floor slabs - I'd never seen this before.


I reported what I saw correctly - I just wish I had been a bit more skeptical (at least to myself) about that inspect-ny identification.

Gunnar Alquist
11-26-2007, 06:02 PM

Yes, I agree. I have never run into terra cotta ducting either. Pretty weird. I understand your embarrassment, but it is a minor error. Not sure that I would not have done something similar. (even though I didn't) :D