If you are buying a home larger than 3500 square feet than you will probably want to read this article.  This article was written for my client from a home inspection In Evanston, Illinois.  My client was moving from a smaller home in Northbrook, Illinois that was 2500 square feet and did not have 2 heating systems.  As you will see homes that are larger than 3500 square feet will generally need to heating systems.  Heating systems that are installed in any floor other than the basement have requirements that they must adhere to for the protection of the building components.  If you are a home buyer then use my list below when looking at your possible new home.

  • Overflow pans are a must for any furnace / air conditioning system installed on any floor other than the basement.  This pan protects the floors below it from possible water damage from condensate lines that may back up.  The Evanston home inspection did have an Overflow pan.
  • Overflow pan limit switches are a must and are code in every village and town in Illinois.  The overflow pan limit switch is installed to the control board of the furnace and blower when engaged will shut off the furnace and air conditioner until a heating technician services the overflow pan limit switch.  I find that over 50% of the homes I inspect are either missing these switches or they need to be replaced.  The replacement cost for the overflow pan limit switch is $350.00.  Unfortunately the Evanston home inspection had an overflow pan limit switch that will need to be replaced.
  • Duct work in attics must have insulation and a vapor barrier to prevent condensation from the duct work that will eventually drip and cause water issues and possibly mold issues in an attic.  The only way to tell if these vents are insulated properly is either by visually inspecting every duct or by the use of a Fluke thermal imager.  We use a Fluke thermal imager on every inspection to make sure all of are clients are protected.  We were able to see with our Fluke thermal imager that there were ducts that will be needing repairs at the Evanston home inspection.
  • The flue from a heating system can be either metal or pvc.  Either way you want to make sure that the roof penetration is not leaking or does not have past water staining around the piping and flashing.  If this area has active leaks or past water staining than I would prepare for roof repairs.

As you can see there are some major questions that need to be answered when looking at a heating system of a home larger than 3500 square feet.  The most important portion of a heating system in my opinion is the overflow pan limit switch.  If this switch is missing or inoperable then you might not know for weeks that damage is being done to your home that may cost you thousands.

This article was written for new home buyers, old home owners and for my readers that just like to know about construction.  If you have further questions about heating systems then please contact me at The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

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