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  1. #1
    Bob Keeley's Avatar
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    Default Who's responsible?

    Need to know where I stand about Inspector responsibilities. Should a home inspector open a split system air handler to see itís condition? We bought a home eight months ago. Had it inspected and then had seller pay for warranty (American Home Shield).

    Air Handler motor seized up last week. Contractor dispatched by AHS reported system was Ďfilthyí and had not been maintained. Our claim is now denied and we face significant expense to clean and replace parts or purchase new handler (it's fifteen years old and there's a old motor lying next to the unit in the crawl space that tells us it's been done before).

    We installed top quality filters when we moved in, and changed them out a month ago.
    Itís obvious to me the equipment did not go from clean to filthy in eight months. So if it had been inspected, it would have been discovered.

    Should the inspector have inspected the motor, or is that beyond the scope of our contract with him?

    Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts...

    Bob

    OREP Home Inspector E&O Insurance

  2. #2
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Bob, you dont say where you are from. That would be a big help in people determining if your states SOPs requires inspectors to open up equipment.


    I believe that it is not required in most states to dismantle equipment for inspection, however without seeing what you are describing, I couldnt say for sure that it would apply in your particular case. Do you have any photos or referencing verbage from your inspection report you could post?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Keeley View Post
    Need to know where I stand about Inspector responsibilities. Should a home inspector open a split system air handler to see itís condition? We bought a home eight months ago. Had it inspected and then had seller pay for warranty (American Home Shield).

    Air Handler motor seized up last week. Contractor dispatched by AHS reported system was Ďfilthyí and had not been maintained. Our claim is now denied and we face significant expense to clean and replace parts or purchase new handler (it's fifteen years old and there's a old motor lying next to the unit in the crawl space that tells us it's been done before).

    Bob
    .
    Bob,

    If your location is a Zip code entered on the right of your post you are in Simpsonville SC. 29681 .

    The attachment is a copy of South Carolina Standards of Practice.

    Sounds like you should be asking some questions from the individual who told you Quote ( more or less ) "Oh don't Worry you have a One Year Home Warranty that comes with this House. "

    I would suggest you do a search on the home warranty company denied claims as you are not alone.

    You did Know The System was 15 years old when you purchased the home ?

    Attached Files Attached Files
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Bob, what did your inspector say about the air handler/ HVAC system in your report? Was it simply documented as operable or was any recommendation made to have repairs made or the system serviced?

    The SOPs Billy attached state in the limitations that equipment is not to be dismantled but then it also says in the HEATING section LIMITATIONS on page 7 that "A - The inspector is not required to: 3) Disassemble equipment by any means other than panels provided by the manufacturer for inspections and/or service." If you go by this, then the inspector should be opening access panels. But the question is what constutues "a panel provided by the manufacturer for inspections and/or service"? All panels that make up the cabinet for the air handler are removeable in some way and may need to be removed for proper servicing of the system. How much of the system/equipment is the inspector required to open?

    What type of split system do you have Bob? Is it a heat pump or is the split system for AC only? The verbiage is conflicting in those SOPs and states nothing in the COOLING section about opening or not opening panels on a cooling system. However, there is the general LIMITATIONS disclaimer at the bottom of the 1st page in the SOPs that states "No disassembly of equipment".

    I think this comes back to whether or not any visible condition was present during the inspection that would have necessitated a call for repairs or servicing by an HVAC professional. Any pics or report verbiage about the system would be helpful Bob.

    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 07-13-2008 at 08:18 AM.

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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Keeley View Post
    Need to know where I stand about Inspector responsibilities. Should a home inspector open a split system air handler to see itís condition?
    In my opinion, absolutely - home inspectors 'should' open those covers.

    Whether or not they are 'required' to, though, is a different matter - that 'requirement' will be in the Standard of Practice (SoP) they work under.

    Regardless of what is stated as 'required' in the SoP, if 50% or more of the home inspectors in that area open those covers, that is the 'standard' to be used in that area, 'required' by the SoP or not.

    Should the inspector have inspected the motor, or is that beyond the scope of our contract with him?
    Opening the cover and 'looking inside' and 'inspecting the motor' are not synonymous. They 'should' open the cover to 'look at' the general overall condition, such as being dirty, however, 'looking at' is not the same as 'inspecting the motor'.

    Any evidence of a not clean coil, blower, etc, would typically be reported as 'have a/c system cleaned and serviced'.

    Thus, the end responsibility would lie with whomever did that 'cleaning and servicing', provided that was recommended.

    Which gets us to what Nick said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    Bob, what did your inspector say about the air handler/ HVAC system in your report? Was it simply documented as operable or was any recommendation made to have repairs made or the system serviced?


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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    We don't have a whole lot of central air here. We do have lots of forced air furnaces. I always open up the blower motor door to check the filter condition and take a look at the motor and belts (if present on the older ones). There isn't a whole lot more you can check on the motor other than is it working. I guess if it was completely full of dirt and crap you might make a note to clean it out inside there, but most of them aren't very dirty, since the dirt would be pulled into the duct by the fan eventually and end up on your TV screen.

    I'm assuming that this is the motor you are talking about. They're pretty easy to replace in most situations.

    I do not normally open the air handler door to look at the A frame unit. Do most of you open that door to look inside? I have opened some of them, but so many are taped closed to seal up the air leaks that I stopped because I didn't want to have to tape or reseal everything.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  7. #7
    David Banks's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    We don't have a whole lot of central air here. We do have lots of forced air furnaces. I always open up the blower motor door to check the filter condition and take a look at the motor and belts (if present on the older ones). There isn't a whole lot more you can check on the motor other than is it working. I guess if it was completely full of dirt and crap you might make a note to clean it out inside there, but most of them aren't very dirty, since the dirt would be pulled into the duct by the fan eventually and end up on your TV screen.

    I'm assuming that this is the motor you are talking about. They're pretty easy to replace in most situations.

    I do not normally open the air handler door to look at the A frame unit. Do most of you open that door to look inside? I have opened some of them, but so many are taped closed to seal up the air leaks that I stopped because I didn't want to have to tape or reseal everything.
    Jim. I do exactly what you do.


  8. #8
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Jerry

    I cannot believe you said this statement below

    "Regardless of what is stated as 'required' in the SOP, if 50% or more of the home inspectors in that area open those covers, that is the 'standard' to be used in that area, 'required' by the SOP or not."

    If it is in the standards or not???? What are you suppose to do. Call 50 inspectors in your area and find out if 50% of them do a particular dead at an inspection.

    As far as Davids point about opening the condenser cabinet, well half of them are sealed, on top of the system and cannot be gotten into. As far as looking at the blower motor in newer units you can get to them most of the time. Many HVAC have been leaking or sucking air severally in the past and HVAC techs have come in and taped and mastic-ed the units up. To open them and break that seal that the seller paid to have done, well, I don't do it. As far as not being able to access a unit properly I will always write it up to be serviced and cleaned for that fact.

    Quick edit here

    As far as testing the motor for current draw or anything besides apparent operation, vibration etc. I do not believe that is going to happen with almost any inspector.


  9. #9
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    At what point do you start/stop disassembling items. I think you have to at least go by the SOPs, but those are the SOPs regardless of what >than 50% of inspectors in your area do. The SOPs are the minimum and of course some people do more than the minimum. We all pull covers on electrical panels, water heaters, etc. but I would venture to say most people arent dismantling all wall switches/receptacles/plumbing clean outs/etc. Without manuals etc from the manufacturer, Im not sure you can say what is/isnt an inspection panel.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Bob,

    You mentioned you have been in the home for 8 months.

    Has is been working all this time or has it been giving you problems since you moved in?

    rick


  11. #11
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_John Smith View Post
    At what point do you start/stop disassembling items. I think you have to at least go by the SOPs, but those are the SOPs regardless of what >than 50% of inspectors in your area do. The SOPs are the minimum and of course some people do more than the minimum. We all pull covers on electrical panels, water heaters, etc. but I would venture to say most people aren't dismantling all wall switches/receptacles/plumbing clean outs/etc. Without manuals etc from the manufacturer, I'm not sure you can say what is/isn't an inspection panel.
    Almost any standard does have an out. If a crawl is to tight. If a roof is to steep. If an electric panel cannot be accessed because there is 2000 pounds of crap in front of it, OR if a condenser cabinet is covered with tape and then mastic. You mention why you could not do this or that and like I say there are outs and a good reason for them.

    You cannot be invasive. Invasive is spending 15 minutes getting all the crap off the unit and destroying what someone was trying to prevent and paid good money for. It is not your buyers home YET.


  12. #12
    Bob Keeley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Thanks to you all for your thoughtful replies....I do live in Simpsonville, South Carolina, up towards the mountains, just outside Greenville. The weather runs fairly hot in the Summer, humidity fluctuates. I don't have any photo's as the contractor closed up anything he might have opened to expose the condition.

    We used AmeriSpec Home Inspection, Inc., which is how we got the American Home Shield warranty. In the Summary Report, this quote may help clarify our ability (or lack of same) to successfully collect on the warranty, "Observations relate only to the conditions apparent on the day of inspection. This is only a 'general inspection' (their quotes) and therefore is not technically exhaustive, and will not reveal all defects or conditions." I guess I should have been a lawyer! You gotta love gray areas!!

    We knew from walking around the house before purchasing that the systems appeared to be original. That's specifically why we insisted on the home warranty. Unfortunately, we didn't ask when last the system had been cleaned - our mistake!!!!! It appeared to be working properly and did so for the first eight months we've been in the house.

    I wanted to say thanks to all of you who responded. From what I've read here, there does appear to be differing standards, and points of view on the issue. I can relate....as my tax professor once said, "The answer to any yes or no question posed to the IRS is always "Quite clearly, it depends!"


  13. #13
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Your probably better off going after the warranty company than the inspector. My guess is your signed an inspection agreement that probably eliminates any possibility of going after your inspector (providing they at least followed the SOPs for your area). Im curious why you didnt have the unit serviced prior to the start of summer? In Houston, I dont know many people that dont get their units serviced in April or May. We had a debate a few weeks ago about home warranties. Sounds like you were probably misled like one of my previous clients.


    From American Home Shields website. Notice the little asterick at the end. Never could find what it means on their website.

    My home systems and appliances are old. Does that matter to AHS?

    No, the age of a home or its systems and appliances does not matter to AHS. We cover items that are in good working condition at the time you purchase the plan and properly maintained.* Plus, AHS covers all makes and models of appliances and systems.*


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Jerry

    I cannot believe you said this statement below

    "Regardless of what is stated as 'required' in the SOP, if 50% or more of the home inspectors in that area open those covers, that is the 'standard' to be used in that area, 'required' by the SOP or not."

    If it is in the standards or not???? What are you suppose to do. Call 50 inspectors in your area and find out if 50% of them do a particular dead at an inspection.
    If you attend local inspector meetings, or even state association meetings, *you will know* what *most* (i.e., 50% or more) of the inspectors in your area do.

    If you do not attend those meetings ... well ... apparently you are not out seeking what you should be knowing.

    It really is that plain and simple.

    As far as Davids point about opening the condenser cabinet, well half of them are sealed, on top of the system and cannot be gotten into.
    And, if it is all taped and sealed up, don't you write it up as stating it was all taped and sealed and an a/c contractor should come out to clean it and inspect it?

    If not, you should.

    As far as looking at the blower motor in newer units you can get to them most of the time.
    And those you should be opening up.

    Many HVAC have been leaking or sucking air severally in the past and HVAC techs have come in and taped and mastic-ed the units up. To open them and break that seal that the seller paid to have done, well, I don't do it. As far as not being able to access a unit properly I will always write it up to be serviced and cleaned for that fact.
    There you go, just what I said you should do.

    NOW ... it is up to the buyer to follow your advice - right?

    Quick edit here

    As far as testing the motor for current draw or anything besides apparent operation, vibration etc. I do not believe that is going to happen with almost any inspector.
    Which I covered with "Opening the cover and 'looking inside' and 'inspecting the motor' are not synonymous."

    Sounds like you and I are really not only in the same book, and on the same page, but we are reading the same paragraph too ... except that I guess you would not have said it - but I did - because it needed to be said.

    As Billy pointed out by referring to the SoP, and Nick pointed out by posting the referenced section " "A - The inspector is not required to: 3) Disassemble equipment by any means other than panels provided by the manufacturer for inspections and/or service." If you go by this, then the inspector should be opening access panels. "

    *ALL* SoP's I've read basically say the same thing - "A - The inspector is not required to: 3) Disassemble equipment by any means other than panels provided by the manufacturer for inspections and/or service."

    There is a big difference between "disassembling equipment" and "removing a panel provided by the manufacturer for inspection and service".

    So, I repeat, the home inspector "should" always open the cover and look inside.

    With the obvious exception being as you stated, when "HVAC techs have come in and taped and mastic-ed the units up.", with your addition of "As far as not being able to access a unit properly I will always write it up to be serviced and cleaned for that fact."

    Now, if that home inspector DID NOT open the cover, and DID NOT call for that cleaning and servicing, DID HE really do his client justice?

    In my opinion - No, he did not do his client justice. He did not do what he was hired to do. He opted for the 'soft-sell' way out.

    Do you agree with that?

    How many others agree with that?

    Disagree with that?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_John Smith View Post
    At what point do you start/stop disassembling items.
    Removing a panel which was put there for inspection and service is not 'disassembling' the unit.

    I think you have to at least go by the SOPs, but those are the SOPs regardless of what >than 50% of inspectors in your area do.
    SoPs are just that, as you said, regardless of what other inspectors do. SoPs are "REQUIRED MINIMUMS", when you inspect a NEW HOME, do you expect to find the builder did everything to MINIMUM? No. You would pooh-pah the builder for building a minimum home. Why should a home inspector be treated any differently?

    Minimums? That's not what you get up in the mornings and broadcast to the world about 'Today, I am going to meet my required minimum standards.' - okay, what about yesterday and the day before? Did you do less?

    No, like code for builders, SoP for home inspectors are what you are expected to do ... minimum ... like it or not ... you agreed to do *at least that much*, that is nothing to beat your chest about, you HAD TO do at least that much.

    The SOPs are the minimum and of course some people do more than the minimum. We all pull covers on electrical panels, water heaters, etc. but I would venture to say most people arent dismantling all wall switches/receptacles/plumbing clean outs/etc.
    No one said anyone had to, or would be expected to.

    Now, though, back to the 50% plus factor ... if you ever go to court, two thing will first be looked at:

    1) Did you *at least* do what the SoP requires you do to?

    2) Did you *at least* do what 50% plus one of the other inspectors in your area do? That is the established "standard of care" for your profession in your area. Do less and you will be treated as less than average. Do you want to be considered as 'doing less than average' work? You will likely lose when you go to court if you chose that as your business model.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Keeley View Post
    Had it inspected and then had seller pay for warranty (American Home Shield).

    Air Handler motor seized up last week. Contractor dispatched by AHS reported system was Ďfilthyí and had not been maintained. Our claim is now denied

    My thoughts on the warranty company is ...

    (had to delete them, this is a public board and my comments had to be suitable for such )

    ... warranty companies are notorious for denying claims for any reason they can come up with, however, ...

    You need to review your warranty carefully, as *they* accepted the warranted items condition when *they* accepted the premium payment. Had *they* done an independent inspection, *they* would have then had the opportunity to deny coverage, returning the premium, not issuing the policy. *They* did not do that, therefore, *they* accepted the condition as "warrantable" and issued the coverage.

    Those rip off companies count on basically two things: 1) that you will give in and accept their rejection of your claim, and, 2) that your cost to get an attorney to whip their butts will be more than your cost to 'just go ahead and pay for the replacement yourself'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    The warranties that the Realtors sell have paid off on a multitude of claims. Just from speaking with Realtors and clients I have obtained that info. The warranties obtained through home inspection companies offering a free warranty I have heard just the opposite.

    I have had home warranties on all the appliances in my homes in the past and they have paid off. I have never obtained one thru a home inspector (duh, I am one) and have never obtained one thru a Realtor.

    I do not offer a warranty of any kind. I never would. This is like telling a client that my inspection lasts longer than the actual "time of inspection"

    another little edit here. No court could prove what 50 % of inspectors do unless they ask them what they do. Asking them what they do has to be proven, not just hear say. They would also have to get the other 50% in court and also have to have tem supply proof. That is why there are standards of practice. You have to go by the standards you tout. As I said before there are a tremendous amount of outs with any standards.

    As far as a motor seizing up 8 months after any inspection I can almost 100% guarantee anyone that there is no way to put that on an inspector. As far an HVAC man saying it seized up from being dirty there is no way he can prove that. It sounds like you are getting screwed by the warranty company, period. As far as proving that the system did not get that dirty in 8 months , there is absolutely no way for anyone to prove that.

    Sorry, one more edit here. As far as waiting for something to break or break down is not the way to maintain a home. What has happened here is you literally waited for somthing to break down and then looked toward your warranty and or the home inspector to fix it. I guess this is a lesson learned.

    Just my opinionated opinion

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 07-13-2008 at 01:41 PM.

  18. #18
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Mr Jerry

    One thing I am guilty of in answering threads is most of the time a short novel would have to be written to explain every facet of a response.

    I have to admit Mr Jerry that in reality we are on the same book and page on most items. I certainly was not beating you up by any means. But without those three or 4 very lengthy posts to get your point out and explain as completely as possible, it would not have been possible.

    That is the point I just made at the beginning of this post. Not all can be answered in a 2 or three sentence post to another home inspector without missing something small or something left unexplained.

    Now, this explains exactly why I came to this site. To a home buyer it has to be explained in brief. The full technical explanation on every item you find in their new home would be absurd. I am on here to find that happy medium between highly technical and simplistic.

    Hmmm, I said that in another post somewhere.

    I appreciate the actually in depth read and response to my last posts. That is what I am looking for.

    Just me


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    "If you attend local inspector meetings, or even state association meetings, *you will know* what *most* (i.e., 50% or more) of the inspectors in your area do.

    If you do not attend those meetings ... well ... apparently you are not out seeking what you should be knowing.

    It really is that plain and simple."

    Jerry,
    I am not sure it is that plain and simple.

    According to the state licensing board there are 257 licensed home inspectors in my county and the county next door has 150 licensed inspectors. There are 1500 licensed inspectors in the state. Only 600 of the licensed home inspectors are members of the state HI association. The association has 5 chapters. My local chapter covers approximatley 5 counties, the largest metro area in the state. Of the 400+ inspectors in just 2 of those counties, less than 75 are members. Of those 75 members, 30 are regular attendees of the monthly meetings. NAHI has no chapters in my state. ASHI has a very limited presence with less than 100 members state wide and only meets every other month.

    Less than 50% of the inspectors belong to the state or national associations combined. Even fewer regularly attend the meetings. And yes the state association meetings have education programs made by outside eggsperts in their field.

    Before meetings and during the meal people share stories but I would not say that we discuss every aspect of an inspection or to what level we inspect.

    I have attended state association officer meetings. It is a business meeting, not a comparision of my inspection protocols vs. other inspectors protocols.

    This goes back to the question asked a few months ago regarding superiority. How do you determine if you are providing superior or even equal inspections compared to other inspectors in the area? I agree that attending association meetings will introduce you to other inspectors and during their stories you will hear glimpses of what they consider to be normal methods to inspect.

    I attend state licensing board meetings and listen to what the state investigator reveals about inspectors being investigated. The most common issue is the inspector does not respond to clients after the inspection and the clients call the licensing board to complain. Then the inspector gets investigated to determine if the inspection met the state standards. The most common failure once investigated is improper reporting techniques. It is not a failure to find defects.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Bob,

    Manufacturers will recommend cleaning/servicing once a year. You haven't been there long enough to do that. In my opinion, your inspector should have seen enough to determine if the unit had been maintained. But requirements for inspectors can be pretty lame. Did the inspector's report say what he didn't do or didn't observe? Did he say that the system was satisfactory or did he say he operated it? Many reports are full of holes - look for one.

    Warranty companies make money by not giving it away. You have to fight tooth and nail to get them to pay for a repair. For them to say that the furnace has not been maintained and to put the burden on you is nuts and shouldn't be acceptable to you. It seems to me that a warranty would protect you from a previous owner's lack of maintenance and the unexpected.

    I'd call the inspector and the warranty company and tell them that you expect someone to step up to the plate and make good. Money was paid to keep you out of this situation.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  21. #21
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    OK, I promise, last post on this matter.


    From my second to last post

    "Sorry, one more edit here. As far as waiting for something to break or break down is not the way to maintain a home. What has happened here is you literally waited for something to break down and then looked toward your warranty and or the home inspector to fix it. I guess this is a lesson learned."

    As far as the unit being fifteen years old , one of the first things I would have done was ask for an allowance for the system.

    Second: As far as knowing it was fifteen years old and not having it serviced or maintained in anyway with the exception of putting a new filter in the unit "8 months ago" and just changing the filter out now. Bad move.

    3rd: Being 15 years old and looking for anyone to pay for a new motor. Not right, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE WARRANTY COMPANY. THEY NEED TO PAY FOR IT ANYWAY, PERIOD, NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS.

    4rth: I will repeat what you said. "We installed top quality filters when we moved in, and changed them out a month ago.
    Itís obvious to me the equipment did not go from clean to filthy in eight months.

    Seven months, one filter change, no maintenance. I personally would spank myself and pay for the service you needed and should have had and pay for the blower motor.

    "It is obvious to me" (repeating your words) YOU did not do what you should have done to begin with and did nothing but change a filter and wait for a fifteen year old unit to break down.

    I'm done now, by.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I'm done now, by.
    Reminds me of when they do some type of ion treatments on my knee and wrist - they connect a device which puts 4 ma through my body between the two contacts they stick on, set the timer for 10 minutes or 20 minutes, and say 'there, cook for 10 minutes and I'll check to see if you are done enough'. When they come back in and remove the sticky pads, they say 'Yep, tenderized just right' - because there are red marks there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  23. #23
    Bob Keeley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    One last post for me....but first, thanks to all of you who've taken the time to share your opinions. They are all good thoughts and one's that will go in my 'file' of 'how to do things right the second time'.

    The compelling reason for a pre-purchase inspection is to employ a professional to uncover problems that a typical person would not recognize. Beyond the roof falling in, or a wall collapsing, there are few more expensive problems a homeowner can face than replacing an HVAC system. So it would seem to me that 'the right thing to do' is to inspect those systems beyond looking for leaks from a square metal box and tube assembly. If the inspector had simply told us at some point "I don't check the interior or motors of the air handlers - you need to get that done by a contractor "- I would have gladly paid the additional money (or required the seller) to get that done and would have uncovered the problem at that time.

    I'm not really up for a battle at this point...I'll just lick my wounds and get the job done. The one benefit is that I'll be able to choose my own solution, and not get stuck with a least-cost contractor and replacement product the warranty company can dig up. The thought of those two factors coming into play a year from now scare me even more.

    Thanks again for your input....


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    The issue raised here, in my opinion, is the most important facing our industry currently.

    The SoP say X but one inspector says/does X+Y, the other does X+Z, the other does X+Y+Z+P+W. Does this automatically make the inspector doing X wrong?

    The legal term that applies here is the 'Standard of Care' within the industry. That's essentially what JP is talking about with the 50% of the inspectors.

    I'm not so on board with this theory. Like what was already mentioned, what are you suppose to do? Call half the inspectors in your local yellow pages? What if the association you belong to happens to have a bunch of un-motivated deadbeats compared to the one across town?

    I think it's a stretch to think there's an automatic conviction of guilt just because half of the guys around are doing something a certain way. When it really gets down and dirty it's going to depend of what you say you would do (contract), what you are supposed to do (SoP) and what you did (report).

    The lower the number of contradictions between those documents the better off you stand as an inspector when facing legal action.

    The question I often find myself asking is, where did the idea of exceeding state or association SoP come from? It's almost like this 'wink, wink, nudge, nudge' game where we give the clients the contract and SoP but then do all kinds of stuff outside of what they say.

    It's no wonder some clients are left a bit confused... hence this thread.

    Truth be told, I do lots of stuff beyond my SoP, mainly because I'm afraid of the guy coming through the house when my clients sell in two years and becasue in lots of cases it's just the right thing to do.

    Sure, according to my SoP, I could go through an attic or crawl space infested with rodents and say nothing but it's just common sense that somebody buying the house would want to know.

    I guess my global opinion on this is that everything, everday is just a judgement call. Not everything but A LOT of things. This business is rarely black and white and usually is just one big gray area.

    Sorry for the longwinded rant.....


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    If the inspector had simply told us at some point "I don't check the interior or motors of the air handlers - you need to get that done by a contractor "- I would have gladly paid the additional money (or required the seller) to get that done and would have uncovered the problem at that time.
    Bob, I can understand your frustration, but NO ONE has a Crystal ball to tell you when a motor will go out. Not an inspector, not an A/C technician, nobody.
    There are clues like a higher than normal current draw, noisy bearings, etc. but a dirty system is not a death sentence to motors unless the system was blocked excessively on the output and not the input.
    In fact, as the free air is reduced on the suction side (filter side) of the system, the amp draw and heat to the motor is reduced.
    If you were getting adequate performance for 8 months prior, the warranty company is just using the lack of maintenance b/s to deny your claim.
    Most people are just like you (and me) and won't bother fighting, which means they win.
    They just deny, deny, deny in hopes of winning the war of attrition and odds that they collect more in premiums than they pay in claims.
    The person to go to is the Realtor or person that recommended that particular warranty company; let them know that you are displeased.

    A system that is 15 years old is like a car with 200,000 miles that looks OK when you take it to your mechanic.
    You would not fault him after it came up with a bad alternator after 8 months, would you?

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    The problem is that we have old SOP's that have undergone few changes.
    The changes made are minimal and leave too many gray areas.

    Many hvac units have spring loaded or press fit covers that are easy to remove. Carrier makes one that uses a long skinny bolt with a knurled knob that looks easy but most of these have a flue pipe in the way where the bolt is holding by about one thread and only because the installer smacked it several times before the thread would catch. Good luck getting these covers back on. Many others have rusted screws and bent covers, same deal, good luck getting those on and off while laying on your side in a crawlspace.

    Many older packaged unit pads have sunk lower and weeds growing all around the unit, good luck with these too. They are full of rust anyway and usually need replacing.


    Safety switches prevent operation if some covers are not on all the way too so you could leave the owners without a system because you don't have a hammer and power drill to force the thing back on like the hvac techs do.

    I think I just posted enough info to enable someone to create a decent sop change....


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    A/C technician,

    There are clues like a higher than normal current draw, noisy bearings, etc. but a dirty system is
    not a death sentence to motors unless the system was blocked excessively on the output and not the input.
    In fact, as the free air is reduced on the suction side (filter side) of the system, the amp draw and heat to the motor is reduced.

    Mr. Inspector,

    Sure wish I had thought of that reply.

    But as you Nailed me on an incorrect HVAC post I made not long ago. I could not think of it if I didn't know it.

    .

    ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images ***IMPORTANT*** You Need To Register To View Images
    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  28. #28
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    I lied, I lied, I lied.

    Bob, please. Every post you make keeps sounding like you are looking for blame.

    To give you a list of the indepthness (is that a word) of every system and the complete breakdown on every single item that is checked or not checked and to what extent it is checked or not check, Whoo Hoo, impossible.

    You said he told you and gave you something in writing that he (we) are generalists. If we find a concern with an item we pass it to the appropriate tradesman. If it is working just wonderfully (and you thought it was as well) then????????

    Bob, I am trying to be real friendly here. Matter a fact you won't find a nicer guy. I gotta tell ya. You are an intelligent man. You knew the system was fifteen years old. If you did not know, the inspector must have told you how old it was. With out having to be told, "YOU" should have stepped up and had the unit serviced and evaluated for longevity. As far as being dirty , well it may have been a little dirty. Any system that sucks air and dirt could and will be a little dirty and always needs cleaning.

    You put one filter in in 7 months. You did not have it serviced or inquire about an HVAC contract for service. You bought a home with a 15 year old system and waited for it to die before you did anything to keep it up.

    Sorry Bob, just stating the fax

    This is absolutely, positively, assuredly, undeniably, almost, maybe, yup it is, my last post on this matter.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    This document has come in handy at times. Regarding this situation, take a look at section 15.

    Attached Files Attached Files
    Critical Home Inspection Services
    www.Home2Spec.com

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Standard Note/Disclaimer in my reports includes having HVAC systems serviced at least annually. If I can't access a system through the "service panels", I note the the unit should be checked by a HVAC service contractor. You know, like the ones in attics that some young, short, skinny guy was able to install without a work platform and the access doors are on the EAVE side of the attic where there was only room for the installer, if, he laid down on the job. Or the one mounted in a closed-in area with the WH and/or washing machine in front of it. Of course there was the one where the gasoline engine electric generator, pressure washer, and chain saw are stored in the same area along side the GAS furnace and WH. - Hmm, maybe I should start looking at WHs and Furnaces first.

    Yes, when the tag-along, hovering, damage control realty agent starts in with the "Oh, everything is covered by a home maintenance warranty" - I calmly, clearly, and emphatically tell the client to carefully read the fine print in the warranty because there may be a number of situations where the warranty company could refuse coverage. And in the case of HVAC systems, I recommend they have the service contractor for the warranty company come out and service the unit before the sale is closed if at all possible.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    I don't think we ever got an answer on this.

    Bob, what did your inspector say about the air handler/ HVAC system in your report? Was it simply documented as operable or was any recommendation made to have repairs made or the system serviced?


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Nick, I dont think you're going to get an answer. From the git-go he was fishing for ammo. Just read his first sentence.

    "Need to know where I stand about Inspector responsibilities."

    Critical Home Inspection Services
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  33. #33
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor DaGraca View Post
    Nick, I dont think you're going to get an answer. From the git-go he was fishing for ammo. Just read his first sentence.

    "Need to know where I stand about Inspector responsibilities."
    .
    Thread Title " Who's responsible? " ( Can't be me ) I was hoping the AC would Die so I could get a Brand New FREE ONE.

    Precedes the First Sentence.

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Guys,

    "Who's responsible?"

    1 - The warranty company. They accepted the condition of the unit upon accepting the premium and not excepting that unit out of the coverage.

    2 - The listing agent. For selling, or convincing one to buy, insurance which does not cover what it says it will.

    3 - The HVAC person who said he needed a new unit - let them pay for it.

    4 (tie) - The home inspector ... maybe ... depends on how they wrote it up, which we do not know.

    4 (tie) - The home owner ... maybe ... one filter change in 8 months? Come on, even the best filters have a rating of only 3 months on them.

    4 (tie) - The seller ... maybe ... did they disclose that they had not had the unit service since the beginning of time?

    4 (tie) - The selling agent ... maybe ... they should know by now that units that old should be replaced and they should forewarn their clients of such, unless they are a newbie agent, then this is how they learn.

    Sounds like a learning experience for everyone, one that the original poster, Bob, should relay to the agents (both of them) the HVAC person, AND the home inspector. Maybe they (the four in the four-way tie) can each kick in $50 toward replacing the motor, plus the listing agent. That should leave the same or less for the warranty company to swallow.

    $300 should more than cover it, and $50 won't hurt any of the above, it will be a cheap lesson to have learned.

    If need be, let the home inspector pay the $50 the warranty company won't pay - that will be their lesson learned (they get to pay $100 of it - presuming, as Bob said, that the home inspector was the one who did the warranty company selling, if it was the selling agent, let them kick in the extra $50, if the listing agent, them ... whoever sold the cheesy insurance gets to kick in the extra $50 ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Ok, maybe I get carried away sometimes, but maintenance on systems has always been a huge issue with me. Guess it comes from my dad insisting that the 20-30 year old tractor was still almost good as new just because he took care of it. I learned then that with some TLC most equipment would last long past it's expected lifespan. My HVAC guy comes out in November each year to service the two 8 year old units in my home. He usually doesn't have to do very much to them because I change the filters every 30 days. I also check & clean the units at the end of the cooling season, and again at the end of the heating season. In my previous home the 18 year old unit still ran like a top. Motors in the Air Handler were changed, motors at the exterior unit were changed, the system was cleaned by me twice each year, and serviced and checked by the HVAC guy once each year. The unit was never ran to failure and it continues to function today. The present owner is still looking out for the old girl, and he continues to maintain the home almost as I did.
    Alton Darty
    ATN Services
    Osceola, AR


  36. #36
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    This thread got me motivated this weekend. My forced air blower motor was squeaking a lot this past winter. I ordered a new motor, which has been sitting in the furnace closet for about a month. I decided to see if I could swap it out myself. It took me about two hours, and I didn't really know what I was doing. About 40 minutes was trying to gently get the original squirrel cage off the motor. I ended up just driving it out with a hammer and punch. Total cost of about $160, and the new motor seems to work great. I guess I'll find out this winter if cured the squeaking problem.

    The age of the old motor was about 18 years, so that's right in line with normal expectations, maybe even beyond . Bob never did answer if he was talking about the blower motor of the A frame. A motor certainly isn't a significant expense.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  37. #37
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    I think Im going to post on the M.D.s site and see if anyone can tell me if my doctor could be guilty of malpractice because he didnt diagnose that all those delicious Texas kolaches would make me fat. And if I kick the bucket after eating them for 10 years that my arteries were totally clogged with kolache fat, should he have told me? Should he have cut open my insides to further inspect?


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    What's a kolache? I haven't heard that one before. It sounds good if it clogs your arteries.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    A kolache is kind of like most people in other parts call a "pig in a blanket". I believe they are German or Czech in origin.

    Around here they are usually sausage or ham or bacon with egg and cheese wrapped up in bread and baked.

    Mighty delicious. Hardly anyone around here eats donuts. They all go for kolaches. One of the best around is Mornings Kolaches Mornings Kolaches.


    Maybe I should get out of home inspection and open a kolache shop. Probably not, Id weigh about 300 lbs!, but at least I would always know where the police were.


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_John Smith View Post

    One of the best around is Mornings Kolaches Mornings Kolaches.

    .
    .
    And They sell them by the dozen. ( Single= $1.25 Dozen = $ 12.50 )

    It Might have Choked Artie But it ain't gone'a choke Stymie! Our Gang " The Pooch " (1932)
    Billy J. Stephens HI Service Memphis TN.

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    I'll be sure to try one next time I see it on the menu. Sounds pretty tasty.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  42. #42
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    You might not want to fool around with those things. You eat one, you get hooked, next thing you know your experimenting with omelets or belgian waffles (for the GS).


  43. #43
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Off the main topic I know, but if your in Texas you've have to stop at this place. I've embarrassed myself eating there. Its that good.

    Maybe they can ship you some by UPS.

    rick

    The Czech Stop of West, Texas


  44. #44
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    I've embarrassed myself eating there. Its that good.

    Rick,

    A good meal does not embarrass oneself.

    It does, however, embarrass those with you.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  45. #45
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    Thumbs down Re: Who's responsible?

    I'd call the inspector and the warranty company and tell them that you expect someone to step up to the plate and make good. Money was paid to keep you out of this situation.
    Mr. Barker, as soon as FLIR comes out with a crystal ball maybe we all can magically see when motors might fail. How you can pin this on the two you mentioned is beyond me. You can not predict what happened during that inspection by just Bob's remarks. A dirty motor, I doubt that was the culprit. Bob said there was a motor that has been replaced before. It seems there is something else wrong that is burning them up and that should lie with the service person that replaced it.
    As mentioned most cabinets are hard to get into. Also where is the unit. Is it in a crawl space with little clearance. I for one don't check many unless I can take the cover off with a screw driver or nut driver. I don't know about your area but around here most are taped and mastic.

    Putting blame on anyone is crazy when the unit is 15 years old.
    If you ask me people should not be able to buy a home until they take a course on how to maintain one and know the life expectancy's of the appliances in there home.

    We are generalist, if you want technically exhaustive inspection then you better ask for it and expect big $$$$ for the inspection.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  46. #46
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    All these comments knocking Bob (in this thread) and Steve (in those other threads) for 'not knowing what a home inspection is' and for 'thinking it is something it is not' are, in my opinion, truly related back to the home inspector.

    *IT IS THE HOME INSPECTOR'S JOB TO MANAGE EXPECTATIONS.*

    It is not any one else's job.

    If the home inspector had spent even just a little time with the client explaining what they do and what the do not do, I doubt either of these individuals would have complaints.

    I know I've said it before, and I remember that others have said it before too, but ... HIs need to create and manage their client's EXPECTATIONS.

    Tell them what you can do, then do more. Never 'don't bother to tell them anything', you will never be able to 'do enough' to meet their expectations.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  47. #47
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    But we don't know what time is or was spent or exactly what was stated on the report.

    He was obviously versed on the age of the unit and life expectancy from what he has said.
    That told me that he did not step up but just waited till it died and then looked for who to blame.

    Wasn't picking on anyone. Just stating what I could read into all this

    Every home inspector should class his client to a point. The rest they have to do for themselves.

    Again I do not know exactly what took place at the inspection or what exactly was written in the report or what if anything the home inspector schooled his client on

    One thing I have found on here is EVERYONE gets the good, the bad and the ugly

    Take the good

    Take the bad

    Take the ugly

    Deal with it. Learn from it. That is what these sights are all about. If someone wants to hear one line of reasoning and figuring then they need to talk to themselves in the mirror.

    Oh yeah. Absolutely nothing I just wrote was intended to hurt, knock or upset anyone.


  48. #48
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Jerry,
    Everything is in the contract which I get to my clients before the inspection (which Bob quoted from the inspector of his also "stated.") I tell them to read it and sign and post dated before the inspection date so they can't say it was duress. It's on my web site and I'm sure it's on all others.
    We drive in the fast lane and don't want to read the warning signs until it's to late. The buyer needs to take a little responsibility to find out what he is hiring and what to expect.

    On the web they will find a wealth of information of what to expect from a home Inspection.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  49. #49
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schulz View Post
    On the web they will find a wealth of information of what to expect from a home Inspection.
    And a wealth of MISinformation too.

    *IT IS* .. that's right ... *THE HOME INSPECTOR'S JOB* ... no one else's ...

    To educate THEIR client and manage THEIR client's expectations.

    If the home inspector choses *not to do so*, then the home inspector gets what they deserve.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  50. #50
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    Default Re: Who's responsible?

    Anyone notice that Bob, remember him, he started this thread, dropped out of this conversation 3 days ago when he said he was making a final comment.

    This thread is now officially adrift.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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