Oceanside Home Inspector Finds Surprise In Furnace
What were they thinking?! I was at a home inspection in Oceanside, California. I turned the heating system on, grabbed my ladder, and started up the stairwell to inspect the forced-air furnaces located in the attic area. As I got to the top of the stairwell, I heard a loud vibration noise. The floor and ceiling were shaking something terrible! I quickly set up my ladder and entered the attic access in the master bedroom closet.
This was a large home, almost 5000 square feet, with two heating systems. I was able to quickly determine that it was the furnace for the first floor system that was making all the noise. It sounded as if the bearings in the blower fan were about to fly apart. Once I opened the blower fan compartment, there was no doubt as to the source of the problem. The installer had apparently stored the owner's manual in the fan compartment! When the system was run, the manual was sucked up into the fan and was completely shredded.
The house was six years old. Had the system been operated in this condition for all those years? The paper can be removed from the fan, but the fan component will have to be evaluated by an HVAC contractor to see if it is damaged. What a horrible place to store the owner's manual! At some home inspections, I have seen the manuals stored in the burner compartment and they were on the verge of spontaneous combustion!
While on the subject of furnaces installed in attics, let's go over some basic safety requirements for this type of installation. The furnace must be located no more than 20 feet from the access opening. There must be a light and electrical outlet installed near the unit with the light switch installed by the attic access. There must be a solid wood cat-walk at least 24" wide installed from the attic access to the furnace. There must also be a minimum 30" x 30" platform installed directly in front of the service side of the furnace so it can be safely worked on. The owner's manual must be attached to the furnace... but not stored in the blower fan compartment!
Steve Stenros is a CREIA inspector (California Real Estate Inspection Association) with the MCI designation (Master CREIA Inspector). He founded First Choice Inspections nearly a decade ago and serves Oceanside, CA as well as the rest of San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties. Clients always receive a FREE appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection. Appointments are available by calling Steve at 888-335-3040.