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New Homes - First anniversary inspection  

Many home builders have made private new home inspections difficult.   New houses are typically covered by a one year warranty on all components.  We recommend an inspection done on a new house in the 10th or 11th month of your occupancy to identify any adverse conditions that would be subject to warranty corrections by the builder or the sub-contractors.  Since you own the home, the inspector is able to benefit from hearing your experience with the house and respond to questions or concerns you have about the components. 

IMPORTANT:  One of the key issues in modern construction is moisture management.  We have become highly aware of this issue and the widespread misinformation around this topic.  One of the essential components in moisture management is properly detailed flashing. 

                            Drawing of cap flashings from James Hardie siding installation manual

Unfortunately, misinformed persons often caulk all seams including those which are needed to provide drainage from behind the siding. Improperly caulked cap flashings. (C) 2012 www.HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MNWe have identified improper caulking in several recent new construction cases and our customers have successfully had the builder remove misplaced caulk.  Failure to remove the caulk can lead to mold and water damage behind the siding and trim.  

We also offer infrared thermography to determine the presence and uniformity of insulation and leaking or uninsulated air ducts in attics.  

We also offer an end of structural warranty inspection, typically conducted in the ninth year of occupancy to identify any structural concerns prior to the end of the ten year structural warranty.  Typically, the emphasis in these inspections will be to look for moisture damage.  This inspection may lead to a recommendation of a home performance test: Blower door & Infrared scan, to identify significant air leaks or missing insulation.

Example:  Finding from a inspection of an new (1 year old) house in Woodbury, Minnesota.

   Deteriorated siding at furnace vent (C) 2012 www.HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey, ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MN 

For details on this see on our Troubled Houses page.

   DRYWALL DUST HURTS FURNACES AND COOLING COILS

Forced air heating systems are NOT intended to be used during construction. This is particularly true during the sanding of the gypsum wallboard joints. We have encountered numerous houses where this recommendation was not followed and surfaces of the heating and cooling equipment were coated with white drywall dust. We have seen this in both new houses, and older ones where an area was remodeled and where new rooms were added.

It is recommended that PRIOR to new construction or remodeling, have a qualified attorney create contract agreements with the home builder or remodeler to establish that:
 1. the heating and cooling equipment will NOT be used during construction
 2. contractors will supply temporary heaters
 3. all air duct openings will be sealed to exclude construction dust and debris.
 4. the heating and cooling system will be examined by a qualified at the conclusion of construction by a qualified inspector or heating and cooling contractor to   determine if the system is free of construction dust and debris
 5. if the system is found to be contaminated with construction dust and debris, all contaminated components will be replaced or cleaned to like new condition, or in the case of remodeling, clean original condition.  
 
  Drywall dust in a new furnace blower cabinet. (C) 2012 HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MN:ins
Gypsum wallboard dust is composed of very fine particles and this dust is almost pure white. It travels throughout the heating system and coats the blower, heat exchangers, cooling coils, ducts and continues to blow into the home whenever the blower operates.

                    White drywall dust on a new furnace blower. (C) 2012 HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MN 
The dust is much more than a cosmetic problem. First, drywall dust is an eye and lung irritant. There are occupational regulations on the control of drywall dust. Further, and more important to the home owner, manufacturers of furnaces, air handlers, and coiling coils know that the drywall dust can cause corrosion on metallic surfaces of the heating equipment. Also a layer of dust reduces the efficiency of heat transfer on the heating and cooling components. Most manufacturers do NOT recommend use of the furnace as a construction heater, and when the furnace is used, the installation instructions carry very specific instructions on how the furnace is to be used, maintained, and cleaned prior to regular use of the equipment. Failure to follow the instructions can void the warranty.
       Operating instructions for a new furnace. HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MN
Most reputable builders do not use the furnace during construction and best practice is to seal off any heat registers and grills during drywall sanding so that the dust does not contaminate the heating and cooling system.  Canadian furnace manufacturers will BAN use of their products for construction heating as of May 1, 2017.  

It is equally important to avoid use of the furnace during any remodeling construction activities that create dusty conditions. 

 

White drywall dust in the return air plenum of a new furnace . (C) 2012 HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MN

<- One way to check for drywall dust is to open the filter cover and look into the return air duct.

White drywall dust in an air duct of a new house . (C) 2012 HankeyandBrown.com Roger Hankey ASHI Certified Inspector, Eden Prairie, MN
Another way is to lift a supply air register and check inside the duct to that register.In either case, if white dust is present, a professional cleaning of the entire system is recommended. However, keep in mind that it is NOT possible to restore the equipment to "like new" condition.  Therefore, where feasible, replacement of existing heating and cooling systems with new clean energy efficient equipment is a recommended part of a remodeling project. 

A longer version of this article has just been published on Inspectapedia.com.  Click here for the article. 



 

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