Ignorance Is NOT Always Bliss

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

One would hope that Flippers were either capable of renovating a home, or employs professionals who know what they are doing.  Doing home inspections professionally I have learned that hope really does spring eternal...

This particular house, with the fine front stoop repair, was serviced by Liquid Propane gas (LP).  I checked and the furnace and water heater were made to handle LP gas.

Is that important?  YES!!  Appliances can be made for LP or, if made for natural gas, can be converted for use with it.  On remodels it is important that proper appliances be used, or have evidence of conversion kits.  LP is compressed and its molecules are smaller and require a much narrower orifice for proper mix and combustion.  When LP is used on a natural gas appliance there is too much gas being burned and the result can be disastrous.

An LP appliance will have a sticker that indicates it, or "PROPANE" will be somewhere on the information sticker.

If a conversion kit is used there are similar stickers very visibly placed to so indicate!  They are sometimes RED and often include serial numbers.

This is evidence of a proper installation.

In this house I turned on the brand new oven to test it.  A moment later flames were licking out of the gaps on each side of the oven!  They were three inches high!  Despite many photographic attempts the flash drowned out, and made it impossible to capture, these flames, but trust me they are there!  The brightness of the light coming from those openings is unusual in itself.  And the house began smelling like poorly-combusted propane.

Did this Flipper know to use the correct appliance, or have one converted for LP use?  Did he know that this house was serviced with LP gas?  Did he understand the difference?  I don't know.  But I DO know that such ignorance is very dangerous.

My recommendation:  If a house has LP and there has been remodeling done, ask for proper documentation that all the gas appliances in the house are so manufactured, or converted for LP use.  If not, who knows, one day you may hear that your clients are in the news...

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 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Diane Williams 08/29/2010 05:34 PM
Topic:
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Location:
Virginia Prince William County Bristow
Groups:
Ask the Home Inspector
Active Rain Block Party
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Adventures in Home Inspecting
Tags:
flipping houses
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Rainmaker
1,234,060
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA
LandlordWhisperer

Lunched with my sister on Friday.  She goes to closing on Thurs for the sale of her ONLY real estate purchase she has owned for 20+ years.  She said * she will not SELL again without a pre-listing inspection.  $3,500 of her $80,000 new went to HVAC that she thought was OK * listing agents should be cautioning their sellers to get pre-inspection.

Aug 29, 2010 12:39 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thanks Debbie.  On a previous inspection I had actually identified a water heater as NOT being converted for LP use.  The County had previously approved it!  Well, a couple of months later the water heater exploded when many family members were visiting for a family event.  I suggested on my report that they have it professionally looked at and properly converted or replaced.  My suggestion went ignored...

Gita - in many ways!  Sooner or later you will pay the piper, so to speak.

Thank you Gary.  That is a very nice compliment.

Michael - I expect the Flipper has already jetted somewhere exotic with his profits...

Aug 29, 2010 12:45 AM #9
Rainer
407,122
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

You do a great job Jay. Inspectors everywhere could learn from reading your posts. Too bad you aren't here in Michigan.

Aug 29, 2010 12:50 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's a great tip Jim!  I am not that camera smart.  I had it set on the All Use setting, which you probably understand.  I suppose I could cover the flash with my finger.  There's always the next time!  I really wanted pictures of the flames, which were huge.

S&D - you have to wonder how often a disaster happens with this kind of thing.

Thank you Tish!  I very much want to be informative on my posts.

Wallace - if an appliance is very old, but working, at the time of the inspection, even though she didn't have one, there's not much that can be done to a seller.  "It's working!" or, "It's been here for years and has worked for us," is what would be said.  And, it's funny, but I have tried for many years to get pre-listing inspections to catch on around here without any success.

Aug 29, 2010 12:51 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Thank you Randy, that was nice to say.  And I hear property is really cheap there!  If you can stand the cold...

Aug 29, 2010 12:52 AM #12
Rainmaker
455,517
John Mulkey
TheHousingGuru.com - Waleska, GA
Housing Guru

Jay - Having grown up with propane and once more living in an area with no natural gas service, I'm very familiar with the dangers. My dad bought us a new house when I was a kid and the "builder" hadn't bothered to convert the water heater to propane. an error that almost burned down our new home.

Aug 29, 2010 05:06 AM #13
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

John - an explosion happened on a home where I could not find a conversion sticker or LP label on a natural gas water heater.  My suggestion that they have someone come to look at it went ignored and they were very lucky.

Aug 29, 2010 09:47 AM #14
Rainmaker
354,833
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

Lately I have seen more flops than flips!

Aug 29, 2010 02:41 PM #15
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Damon, that is my current world too.  And it's too bad.  After all, on TV they can flip a house in an hour!

Aug 29, 2010 03:25 PM #16
Ambassador
1,333,956
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, in addition to what Jim said about not using the flash is you can fool the sensor with a really bright flashlight so that it won't be out of focus.

Aug 29, 2010 03:56 PM #17
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's a good tip too Charlie!  You guys are a lot smarter than I, so thanks for the ideas!  I took about 6 or 8 pictures from different angles and none worked out.  Better luck next time...

Aug 29, 2010 04:13 PM #18
Rainer
215,888
Diane Williams
Pell City, AL

Jay thanks for another one of your very educational post.  I am afraid of gas and would never let anyone work on mine except a licensed professional.

Aug 29, 2010 05:29 PM #19
Rainmaker
1,560,731
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Good thing they had you doing the inspection!!

Aug 29, 2010 05:58 PM #20
Rainmaker
376,927
Robin Dampier REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

Great and important info.  I just had an experience with a water heater for one of our clients.  The property is vacant and the P.O.A. in PA.  Due to a leaking gas old water heater a new one was ordered.  To make a long story short it was installed and when I asked for the Product Information Package on the heater it was clearly printed on the front in BOLD NOT FOR MANUFACTURED HOMES, which this was.

The plumber/installer said he'd put them in other manufactured homes and didn't have a problem!  I told him it wasn't staying in this one and he needed to replace it with the correct one.  Thank heavens it was caught before he left the premises.  Manufactured homes must be vented from underneath as I understand it.

A good Home Inspector is worth a lot!

Sue of Robin and Sue

Aug 29, 2010 06:24 PM #21
Rainmaker
1,016,136
Tim Lorenz
TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team - Mission Viejo, CA
949 874-2247

I know I do not want to here that my clients are in the news over some neg. report.

Aug 29, 2010 07:04 PM #22
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Diane - I would agree with that!  No matter the gas, proper installation is crucial.

Carla - opening the oven it wasn't hard to see!  Unfortunately I am a camera dope and did not get a good picture.

Good catch Sue.  They put those stickers on there for a reason!  That plumber knew what he was doing.  He did not want to waste time ordering the proper heater - he wanted to get paid now!

Tim - that would be a bad day for anybody.  Once I had heard about a fire in an apartment building that I had recently inspected a unit in and immediately worried about my client!

Aug 30, 2010 12:03 AM #23
Rainmaker
233,467
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

It's nice to know that an improper installation will be so obviously wrong when the burner is turned on.  I inspected a house last week that had LP gas, and there were no stickers on the oven indicating that it had been converted.  I turned the oven on and let it heat up, and everything seemed normal, so I didn't say it was a problem.  I feel better about that now.

Aug 30, 2010 03:13 PM #24
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Reuben - if the oven has been there a while it is likely that it's fine.  This was a brand-new oven and it really made the house smell bad.  It was wrong, and I did not find the sticker either!

Aug 30, 2010 10:58 PM #25
Rainmaker
760,802
Steve and Jan Bachman
RE/MAX Gateway, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Fairfax - Herndon, VA
Realtors - Northern Virginia

I am putting a flip on the market this weekend....I will be peeking though the blinds to see if Jay is coming!

Aug 31, 2010 11:09 AM #26
Rainmaker
1,843,940
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Steve, I will take that as a compliment!  I have two new homes scheduled for Saturday right now, but no flips!

Aug 31, 2010 01:33 PM #27
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Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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