Is The Thermostat In The Basement Why It's So Cold Upstairs?

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
http://actvra.in/4wDH

This is a flip, and a total "remodel," of a 120 year old house.  I always expect to find things that aren't right.

AND WE WERE IN FOR SOME FUN!

After turning appliances on to get them running, I always start in the basement.  The first thing I see is the new heat pump, but it is hooked up to the old, metal duct work.  Now I am not an HVAC specialist, but you just can't do that.  The old system was oil and blew much less air than a heat pump demands.  Retrofitting heat pumps and using the old duct system is a fat NO, NO.

But right beside the unit is the thermostat.  The basement simply isn't the best place to put a thermostat.  And right beside the system and under the only register in the basement!  So it's temperature registration will not accurately reflect what is going on in the rest of the house.  I had noticed the main level was a little cooler than the basement, so my client and I had a talk about stratification and regulating temperatures level to level.

FYI, there were no duct dampers (of course, they were using the old duct work) to help that and only on return vent.  That sole return was in the floor of the hallway and 12x12".  Heat pumps require huge amounts of air.  They HAVE TO return at least as much air as they blow.  If not, you will never have a comfortable home and the unit will be killed off in a couple of years.

THE BIGGEST KEY TO EFFECTIVE HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING IS THE RETURN AIR DUCTS AND THEIR LOCATIONS. 

We went upstairs and it was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit!  Outdoors was about 30 degrees so something was up!  And I got the question:  "Is the thermostat in the basement why it's so cold upstairs?"

My immediate response was that probably not, there had to be something else going on.  The upstairs had three bedrooms, a hallway, a hall bath and a "master bath" in the rear bedroom.  Looking around, only the center bedroom had a heating register!  Neither bathroom had one, neither of the front bedrooms and not the hallway.

"Is that why it's so cold?"

The same question again.  

"Let's look in the attic."

Up I went to see this.

You are looking over the two front bedrooms.  Of course you don't see any HVAC registers.  We know there weren't any.

Do you notice anything else missing?

I don't see insulation.

Do you see insulation?

I don't see insulation.

I see wiring for the new lights, so the electricians were up there.

There was a new duct for that one room, so the HVAC guys were up there.

SOMEBODY KNEW THERE WAS NO INSULATION UP THERE!  AND NO DUCTS SERVICING THE OTHER ROOMS.

My recommendation:   A flip by a contractor does not mean the contractor knows what he is doing.  That heat pump has no chance of being effective.  This particular contractor's check list did not include installing HVAC registers or insulation. 

Do you think those were the only things he missed?  Can you see the twinkle in my eye as I ask that?

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Susan Jacobs 01/17/2011 01:31 AM
  2. Craig Frazer 01/17/2011 04:05 AM
  3. Richard Iarossi 01/17/2011 04:59 AM
  4. Brad Rachielles 01/17/2011 04:59 AM
  5. Maureen McCabe 01/20/2011 10:53 PM
  6. Chris Smith 02/01/2011 12:45 AM
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Tags:
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Rainer
53,523
Julie Babcock -Nook & Cranny Home Inspections
Nook & Cranny Home Inspections Tonawanda, NY - Tonawanda, NY

I think I detect a twinkle there, Jay ;)

Jan 19, 2011 10:24 AM #104
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, I'm sure that 15% in New York is probably more important than a 15% here Julie...

Good that you could see the twinkle!

Jan 19, 2011 10:28 AM #105
Rainmaker
1,182,217
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

It is amazing how many people think they know how to do remodeling when they don't have a clue.

I'll admit that some of those flippers are probably trying to pull a fast one, but I've seen many people who try to do these things themselves - thinking it looks easy enough for any dummy. My husband used to do remodeling, and now my son does. Both of them just shake their heads at some of what they see.

On the other hand, I've seen some very talented people who buy homes with problems others would run away from - and they actually fix them.

Jan 19, 2011 08:31 PM #106
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Marte - one of the problems may be these TV shows where people watch them and think that in a half hour they can do it too.

Jan 19, 2011 10:17 PM #107
Rainmaker
230,960
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

I just inspected an old house in Minneapolis on Tuesday with no insulation... anywhere!  It's always quite shocking to find this kind of thing.

Jan 20, 2011 02:11 PM #108
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

How in the world they can get by up there without insulation Reuben, I don't know.  Maybe they use those very efficient Amish space heaters and stay toasty.

Jan 20, 2011 09:43 PM #109
Rainmaker
1,451,139
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

thanks for allowing this to be Re-Blogged!!!

Jan 20, 2011 11:03 PM #110
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

This is something that can be used anywhere Maureen, in hot or cold climates!  Thanks for the reblog!

Jan 20, 2011 11:13 PM #111
Rainmaker
230,960
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis Home Inspections

As a matter of fact, the uninsulated home had a huge pile of firewood in the basement.  I didn't even think about the connection until you suggested it.  Damn you're good.

Jan 21, 2011 02:07 AM #112
Rainmaker
153,744
Kathy Opatka
RE/MAX CROSSROADS - Ocean City, MD
Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches

What did you recommend this Buyer to do?  Did the Buyer go forth with the contract?  Tell us WHAT HAPPENED!

Jan 21, 2011 05:29 AM #113
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Reubs, space heat is space heat!  Firewood in the basement?

Kathy - I have not heard back!  For sure I thought these folks would be calling with questions or something.  Maybe they are looking for another place having dropped this one.

Jan 21, 2011 07:48 AM #114
Rainer
32,758
Shiela Heg
Lake to Lake Realty LLC - Kenosha, WI
Broker-Owner - Find Homes in Southeastern WI

This is a good example why you need a home inspection, even if the house "looks" like everything is new!

Jan 26, 2011 02:52 AM #115
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sheila - I have more problems on new construction than I do on old.  The houses with the most problems are flips and remodels!

Jan 26, 2011 04:01 AM #116
Rainmaker
1,541,652
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192
BuyersAgentPortland.com | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

I'm sorry for this Jay . . . and feel free to delete my comment, but for the pity's sake #117, do you mind not putting your advertising link in EVERY comment you post on someone's blog?!?  Perhaps, we've all become too polite . . . but DUDE, do you see ANYONE ELSE doing that?!?  You want to know why?!?  Because linking to your site on someone else's blog is a violation of the ActiveRain Community Guidelines, and terms of service.  PlUS . . . when you click your link, it PULLS the reader OFF of Jay's post, and plants them into your website!  TACKY TACKY TACKY! 

Jan 28, 2011 02:14 PM #117
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Richard - a contractor!  He was there present.  When I showed him the attic he was "surprised," his word.

Carla - you are right -- it was really cold up there!

Jan 28, 2011 10:04 PM #118
Rainmaker
579,203
Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

Jay, Incorrect HVAC causes so much unnecessary discomfort in homes today, and regarding the insulation, in this day and age, this is unforgivable.  Just because a house looks updated, doesn't mean it is.  Great Post.

Feb 01, 2011 12:42 AM #119
Ambassador
2,054,128
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Palm Harbor, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

Jay - I would not want to be washing in any of those bathrooms if they aren't getting any heat! Too bad people don't always take pride in their work!

Feb 02, 2011 12:31 AM #120
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Chris - exactly right.  And I don't have much confidence in these guys, or remodeling in general.

Barbara-Jo - it would be a trip to be wet in either of those bathrooms!  Makes for a quick bath!

Feb 02, 2011 07:07 AM #121
Rainmaker
272,967
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Flippers cut corners and cover things up. An inspection is always necessary.

Feb 03, 2011 10:48 AM #122
Rainmaker
1,617,678
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

For sure Wayne.  The bottom line is getting the house sold.  Silk purses seal the deal!

But they aren't always silk!

Feb 03, 2011 11:01 AM #123
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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