Goodman Recalls Gas-fired Furnaces

goodman unitGoodman recalls furnaces due to electrical shock hazard.
This recall involves 80% efficiency gas-fired furnaces sold under the Goodman, Amana and Daikin brand names used with home heating and cooling systems. Contact Goodman for a free repair.

See if your furnace is included in this recall: https://cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Goodman-Recalls-Furnaces

Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an assessment of your home and appliances.

Canada: gpiweb.ca/FindAnInspector
United States: npiweb.com/FindAnInspector

U.S. Energy Standards for Air Conditioning Equipment

By Kenn Garder, Corporate Accounts Manager, NPI/GPI Corporate Office

Inspector + ACThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) implemented the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program in the 1980s. In 2015, U.S. consumers saved an estimated $63 billion on utility bills, largely due to the increased efficiency of appliances and equipment.

It is estimated that that 60 percent of U.S. houses have a central cooling system, and most new homes are designed and built with central air systems. About 19 percent of those units are heat pumps. Many other technologies can improve the efficiency of these systems. For example, variable speed motors, advanced compressing methods, and a greater area of heat distribution from the coils of the condenser all can reduce energy consumption.

Residential central air conditioners and heat pumps use electric motors and compressors usually housed in a cabinet installed outside the house. A unit’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is the cooling output during a typical cooling season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. In short, the higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is. In 2006, the United States increased the national standards for central air conditioners and heat pumps from 10 SEER to 13 SEER.

New efficiency standards from the DOE went into effect in January 2015. Unlike previous standards, the 2015 standards create minimum-efficiency standards that vary by region. There are three regions established using population-weighted heating degree days (HDD). The lower 48 states are divided into these regions: Northern — states with an HDD greater than or equal to 5,000; Southern — states with an HDD less than 5,000; and Southwestern.  Click here to see a map of the regions and the SEER requirements.

Federal energy efficiency standards benefit the environment, reducing carbon dioxide created to produce the electricity. They also benefit consumers by reducing energy use and bills. And finally, these standards also benefit manufacturers, as they reduce the potential patchwork of state standards with a single federal standard, streamlining the design and production process.

Garder PhotoWith 10 years of experience in his current position, Kenn Garder is the central point of contact for NPI/GPI’s national accounts. He also provides technical support to our franchise owners/inspectors and teaches the commercial segment of our training program.

To find an NPI or GPI inspector in your area, click one of the links below:

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Top Five Problems Revealed During a Home Inspection

By Kenn Garder, National Accounts Manager and Technical Support, NPI/GPI

Purchasing a house is a major decision, and a home inspection report can be used to assist in the decision-making process. Here are some of the more common issues found during a home inspection.

Poor Grading and Drainage
Water should run away from any structure to help prevent moisture intrusion. If the soil around a house slopes toward the house, or if water pools around the perimeter of the foundation, that moisture can create hydronic pressure in the soil that can move the foundation, causing cracks and leaks that can lead to extensive damage and expensive repairs. If water wicks into the wood framing members, the wood will rot over time. This moisture also provides a haven for wood-destroying organisms (WDO) because it provides a water and food source.

Erosion around the perimeter of a house may be caused by water spilling over gutters due to clogged downspouts or downspouts that terminate near the foundation. Downspout extensions or spill ways can be installed to keep water away from the foundation.

Roof Coverings
The roof of a house is designed to withstand most of what Mother Nature can dish out, whether it be rain, wind or sun. If installed properly, the roof should keep water out of the home.

The life expectancy for roof coverings varies depending on the material. Asphalt composite shingles, for instance, typically have a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years. As the roof covering ages, it can become more susceptible to water infiltration and leaking.

Plumbing Problems
Notice a theme here? Controlling water is one of the most important issues in home maintenance.

Leaking supply water and drain lines can cause damage to walls and floors, or they can become the water source for mold and mildew. Outdated (galvanized) or problematic systems (polybutylene) can develop leaks more frequently. Wax rings under toilets can develop leaks and damage the floor around the toilet or the ceiling below.

Electrical Issues
House fires caused by faulty wiring and overloading circuits are common. It is not unusual for a home inspector find evidence of DIY additions to a home’s electrical system. Many times these additions work but were not done properly, causing safety issues.

Exposed wire connections and double taps in the panel are also common problems. If your home inspector finds these or other electrical issues, he/she will recommend that you have the system evaluated and repaired by a qualified licensed electrician

HVAC Havoc
Inadequate maintenance of the HVAC equipment is common. Dirty condenser coils on the air conditioner condenser unit and dirty furnace filters can lead to major repairs. The equipment may be at or near its life expectancy and need to be replaced. Gas-fired furnaces may not burn properly.

With proper maintenance, an HVAC system can continue to heat and cool the house, but many times heating and cooling systems are “out of sight out of mind.”

This is a sampling of typical issues found during a home inspection. These items may vary depending on the geographical location of the property and the overall maintenance of the property.

Looking for a professional, qualified home inspector in your area? In the United States, visit http://npiweb.com/FindAnInspector. In Canada, visit http://gpiweb.ca/FindAnInspector.

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Common Defects in Newly Built Homes

By Randy Yates, Training Consultant Administrator, NPI/GPI Corporate

Home under construction uid 1When it comes to new-home construction, there really is no limit as to what can go wrong or not be done correctly during building. Defects are common; in fact, it has been said that a home inspector can sometimes find more things wrong with a newly constructed home than an existing home. This is why it’s important to always have a home inspection when buying a house — even if the house is newly built.

You might wonder what kinds of defects a new house could possibly have. Here is a list of problems home inspectors at National Property Inspections and Global Property Inspections often find:

Structural Defects
Premature cracking and settlement in foundation walls can be caused when builders don’t allow the proper amount of curing time for concrete in poured and block foundation walls and slabs. In addition, improper framing techniques — which may not be apparent at first — can cause cracks to develop in drywall. These are typically hairline in nature.

HVAC Problems
Our inspectors occasionally discover that the vent pipe from a gas-fired furnace has not been connected and has come loose during the initial operation. This is a major safety hazard, as carbon monoxide may enter the residence. In one situation, the PVC pipes used to vent a gas-fired furnace were not properly glued together. In addition, our inspectors sometimes find thermostats that do not respond to normal functions. Another common problem is missing drip legs on condensate lines.

Electrical Errors
The list is long for typical electrical problems, and most would not be obvious to the average home buyer or owner. The problem with defects in your home’s electrical system is that most are a fire and/or safety hazard. Here are the most common electrical problems our inspectors find in new houses:

  • Missing switch plates or receptacle covers
  • Improperly wired outlets
  • Open grounds — ground wire is not connected properly
  • Reversed polarity
  • Open knock-outs in the main electrical panel
  • Improper wire sizes on breakers
  • Double-taps on breakers in main panels — when two wires connect to a single breaker
    Jumpers ahead of the main lugs (double-tapping) — when two wires connect to a single lug

Plumbing Blunders
Plumbing problems are something you certainly don’t want in a new house. Leaks can cause major damage and mold issues, while other defects are more of a nuisance. But shouldn’t your brand-new home be free of nuisances? Here are some of the most common plumbing issues:

  • Unglued or improperly glued PVC pipe connections frequently develop leaks — you may never know about the weak joint until standing water begins to seep through
  • Hot/cold reversed faucets and fixtures
  • Bathroom sink drain stoppers that were not connected
  • Improperly vented plumbing systems may be noisy and/or smelly
  • Drain pipes that were not connected (One of our inspectors really did find a drain pipe in a crawl space that was never connected)

Miscellaneous Mistakes
Believe it or not, our inspectors have found all of the following problems in newly constructed houses:

  • Incomplete door hardware on closet doors, cabinetry and entrance doors
  • Improper fire-rated assemblies for pull-down attic stairs
  • Missing handrails on stairs
  • Missing or insufficient insulation
  • Leaky windows
  • Siding defects
  • Improper grading, which could lead to water intrusion and foundation damage

What these defects tell us is that if you are moving into a newly built house, don’t skip the home inspection. Even the best builders in your area use subcontractors, so you can’t assume that everything in your house is top-quality just because you builder is. Plus, you have to allow for human error, which is how many of the problems mentioned here happen. So, even if you just had your house built, it’s worth the cost of a home inspection to ensure that everything was done correctly, and that your new home will be safe and worry-free.

To find an NPI home inspector in your area in the United States, please visit www.npiweb.com/FindAnInspector. To find a GPI inspector in your area in Canada, please visit www.gpiweb.ca/FindAnInspector.

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Mold: Friend or Foe?

By Todd Newhook, GPI Franchise Owner, Markham, Ontario

Newhook 1Mold in general is an important part of our ecosystem. It is all around us! Is it really harmful? Why does media treat mold as a bad thing? Is it a bad thing? Should you be concerned?

Good questions. When it comes to living in a home — an enclosed environment, so to speak — the most important issue is ensuring that you manage the environment you live in to help reduce the risk of high levels of harmful or toxic molds. Mold in general needs a food source (e.g., water or elevated moisture levels) to grow and spread.

The good: Molds eat garbage and turn it into soil. They break down dead plant and animal matter. Some of them are also beneficial to our health — do you bake/cook with yeast and mushrooms (fungi)?

The potentially bad: Many home owners don’t understand building science, the importance of managing relative humidity levels in the home, and maintaining proper room temperatures. The majority of excessive or toxic mold growth in homes is due to this lack of understanding and poor housekeeping.

Newhook 2Relative humidity levels should be maintained between 30 percent and 50 percent, with a target of 40 percent. Low levels of humidity contribute to dry air and possible respiratory problems. During dry winters, a humidifier will help to add moisture to the air inside your home — just make sure to keep the humidity level around 40 percent to avoid excess moisture in your home.

Excessive levels of humidity contribute to excessive moisture levels and may contribute to harmful mold growth and respiratory problems. Often when we inspect basements during the summertime, the insulation at the exterior walls is wet due to high humidity. In the summer, when there are higher levels of humidity, a portable dehumidifier will help to control humidity levels. Always follow manufacturer setup and operation procedures for using humidifiers.

Another common source of mold is poor maintenance of heating and cooling systems. The cooling system typically has an A-coil and an evaporator pan enclosed above the heating system. If not maintained on a regular basis, the evaporator pan that captures and drains condensation can sometimes clog. Standing water in a stale and dark environment contributes to mold growth. If you turn on your heating/cooling system you may be blowing potentially harmful mold around your house.

Leaks due to aged roofs, deteriorated caulking/seals, etc., can also contribute to excessive or harmful mold growth. Home maintenance is key to preventing leaks and the opportunity for mold to grow.

Older homes did not require ventilation as mandated today. For example, todays’ standards require that bathrooms and kitchens include properly vented systems. But if you live in an older house, you may not have a ventilation system, and that can contribute to mold growth on bathroom walls.

Newhook 3How is the insulation in your walls and attic? Ensuring that your home has proper insulation levels will help reduce the risk of heat loss and excessive condensation and mold growth.

To-do List

  1. Ensure your home includes a humidifier and dehumidifier to help manage humidity levels depending on the season.
  2. Set up an annual maintenance program with a qualified HVAC company to properly maintain your heating and cooling systems.
  3. Ensure that the exterior of your home is properly maintained to help reduce leaks (e.g., roofing, caulking/seals, siding).
  4. Run exhaust fans during, and for a minimum of 30 minutes after, cooking or showering. In bathrooms, consider installing an automatic switch that runs the exhaust fan to control humidity levels.
  5. Ensure that insulation in walls and attics is properly installed and evenly distributed.

Your local NPI or GP inspector has the tools and knowledge to assess your home. Consult with your local NPI/GPI Inspector to do an assessment of your home to help reduce elevated levels of harmful mold in your home.

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Tips for Proper Furnace Maintenance

By Kenn Garder, National Accounts Manager and Technical Support, NPI/GPI

Furnace_shutterstock_132626027A gas furnace is a key piece of equipment in a home. Most furnaces are installed centrally in the house but often are tucked away in a closet, up in the attic, or in the basement or crawl space. In other words, they may not be the easy to access. To help your home’s heating equipment live a good, long life, regular maintenance is strongly recommended. Just because the furnace is out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.

Many HVAC companies offer service agreements that include a regular scheduled maintenance program. Or maybe you’re a handy do-it-yourselfer who wants to get their hands dirty and take care of things themselves. If that’s you,  here are a few furnace maintenance tips.

  1. Change the filter regularly. The filter prevents dirt from entering the furnace. Dirt and debris can build up on the blower fan and in the ductwork, which can also reduce air flow, wasting fuel and drastically lowering the unit’s efficiency. The filter may be changed monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the type of filter and the conditions the furnace is operating under. Generally, we recommend changing the filter monthly. Make sure to use the proper size filter.
  2. Remember safety first. When maintaining your furnace, follow some basic safety practices. Most furnaces have a service switch that can be shut off so the unit won’t turn on during maintenance. Check for gas leaks and loose wires before you begin cleaning the furnace. If you smell gas smell or notice a loose wire, contact an HVAC professional.
  3. Clean the blower and ducts. The blower assembly is usually next to the filter, so the dust and dirt that penetrates or goes around the air filter goes to the blower. Use a damp cloth or vacuum to clean the blower, belts and pulleys to remove any accumulated dirt.
  4. Inspect the fan. After the dirt has been removed, make sure the fan spins smoothly and is properly secured. The bearings on the fan and motor may need lubricating, and if the fan is belt-driven, then the fan belt should be checked for proper tension.

Cleaning and maintaining a furnace is not a daunting task and is fairly inexpensive to complete. Proper maintenance will extend the service life of your equipment and help your furnace stay energy efficient.

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What’s Wrong With This Photo?

Snapshots From the Field

In this photo, the home owner has disconnected the humidifier pipe from the return air duct to the humidifier to the supply air side on the plenum. Which of the following statements is true?

  1. Using traditional duct tape (as pictured) is preferable and increases the efficiency of an HVAC system.
  2. Foil or metallic-type duct tape would be a better choice than traditional duct tape.
  3. You should use duct tape and cardboard to fix holes in the plenum or ductwork of an HVAC system.
  4. The humidifier works better when it is installed this way.

Correct Answer: B. Foil or metallic-type duct tape should be used rather than traditional duct tape.

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Dirty Ducts? Here’s Your Solution

Furnace_shutterstock_132626027Q. Should I have my ducts cleaned? What are the benefits of doing this?

A. The short answer is yes, and the reason and frequency of having them cleaned depends on a variety of factors.

Let’s look at the reasons why you should have your ducts cleaned. Ductwork in a home, especially if the HVAC system has not been maintained by regular annual servicing or simple monthly filter changes, can create a harboring zone for accumulative dust and dirt, as well as the possibility of harboring mold and bacteria. If any member of your family is susceptible to allergies or respiratory problems, then this information could be extremely important.

Dust and dirt is common in any home or building. We, as occupants, bring it indoors, and it can be more problematic if you live on or near dirt or gravel roads in rural areas. Once inside the home, dust and dirt can be circulated by the HVAC system, and without an efficient system, it can circulate throughout and often settle into the HVAC ductwork. When large amounts of dust and dirt settle, it can create the possibilities of a mold and bacteria breeding ground.

So, how often do you need to have them cleaned? The EPA recommends at least every three to five years depending on where you live. If you have members of the family with allergies and respiratory problems, you may need to have them cleaned more often.

At a minimum, you should change your furnace filter monthly. There are different types of filters, depending on the amount of dust and dirt they with trap. Lower, less expensive fiberglass filters will trap fewer particles than more expensive pleated filters.

With annual maintenance of your HVAC system and a scheduled monthly (maybe more often) filter change, you can reduce the amount of dust and dirt accumulation in the ductwork system of your home.

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For Maximum Comfort, a Heat Source in Every Room Is Necessary

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Family in living roomEvery livable space in your home should have its own heat source. You can have electric radiant heat in the floor or ceiling, hot water circulating systems and the like. For simplicity sake, the following pertains to a forced-air gas furnace:

Ideally, each room will have a supply and a return. The supply carries warm air to the room, and the return carries it back to the furnace to be reheated. Typically kitchens and bathrooms would not have returns to lessen the possibility of recirculating unpleasant odors and possibly moisture throughout the house. Although a furnace can be located in the garage, there should not be a supply or return register (for the purpose of heating the garage) located in the garage because car exhaust fumes could find their way into the home.

Supply registers are usually located on the outside wall and the return registers on the inside wall. If the house resides in a colder climate, it would be preferable to locate the registers in the floor to take advantage of the rising heat. If the house is located in an area where there are more hot than cold days, then it might be preferable to locate the supplies in the ceiling to take advantage of colder air dropping when the air conditioning is running.

As inspectors, we occasionally find homes that have room additions but for whatever reason, the contractor did not tie into the existing ductwork and simply hoped that heat will migrate into that new space. Following inspection standards of practice, a home inspector would write that up as an issue. (If tying into the existing duct work is not practical, then adding an electric baseboard heater might be a solution.)

To check the air flow from a supply, an inspector might use a digital or infrared thermometer, and/or an anemometer to measure air flow. Occasionally, we find a supply register present but not connected. Again, this is an issue that should be included in the report.

Put on your thinking caps for a parting question: Imagine a home in a cold climate, and it’s the dead of winter. The house has a bedroom located over a garage. This bedroom has a supply but no return. Otherwise, the furnace works properly. Will that room be warm or cold?

Answer: That room will be cold. The supply brings warm air to the room where it dissipates, but if the air is not carried back to the furnace to be reheated, then this room will be cold. This is especially true if the door to the room is closed.

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It’s Cold: Turn the Thermostat Down — I Mean Up

Submitted by Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Thermostat_shutterstock_92965054As property inspectors, we are frequently asked to explain how various components of a home work. For example, if someone has never owned a heat pump, then a heat pump would certainly generate curiosity. The same holds true for any number of components, and we are happy to explain them. That’s part of our service and especially important to a first-time home buyer.

One of the calls that we receive with more frequency pertains to thermostats. Today’s programmable thermostats are nothing short of computers. Some even give weather forecasts and the like. Throw in phone apps, where a homeowner can adjust the thermostat from afar, and you get a lot more “this-thing-isn’t-working” calls.

Most professional inspectors become very familiar with programmable thermostats and are happy to explain them to the homebuyer. Let your inspector do so, or take the time to learn how to program your thermostat yourself. Don’t end up setting your thermostat to where you want it and pressing “hold.” That won’t affect the intended energy savings.

A couple of throwback stories pertaining to thermostats: I remember doing an inspection on a small house in the dead of winter and it was very warm inside. The prospective buyer commented that since the house was so warm it must be well insulated. That wasn’t the case. The thermostat was simply cranked all the way up. Another homeowner had sweating, poorly insulated single-pane windows. He figured out that if he turned the thermostat way up, the sweating went away. (Warmer air holds more moisture.) This didn’t fix the problem, but the thermostat helped to hide it.

In short, thermostats control the HVAC, which in turn leads to our personal comfort. And used correctly, they can save energy and more to the point, save you money.

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