Recently, we went out to perform a Wind Mitigation for a customer who was buying a house and setting up there homeowners insurance. Access to the attic was in the garage, next to the air handler.
Now, I’m very allergic to cats and when I walked into the garage, the smell was so strong, I thought there must be a litter box in the garage. Looking around, I didn’t see anything hinting at a cat, but what I did see was significant water damage at the air handler. Hmmm, maybe what i smelled was mold? Not sure. I snapped a few photos of it and moved on to the inspecting the attic for the Wind Mitigation.
Nowadays, many people are buying foreclosures or houses that are short sales, so they fore go any pre-purchase inspection. I asked the prospective homeowner if they had had a full home inspection. I just figured I would mention the water damage and potential mold i saw. They had said that they had but the inspector hadn’t said anything negative about the air handler.
At this point, I get a little steamed! I see so many realtors using home inspectors because they “pass” everything to ensure the sale goes through. I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but I’ve seen it enough to know it’s a real concern.
I could easily see and smell that this wasn’t a new leak… with my experience, I bet it’s been going on many months, maybe longer. You can see in the photos that the overflow line is newer then the rest of the piping.
So, big picture? Let’s say, because of our experience and thoroughness, Elite Analysis, charges $70-100 more than another home inspector. The replacement of this air handler and the box it is on will be more than $1500. If air sampling shows that the dark stains are mold, and a remediation protocol is necessary, that makes the cost go up to about $4500, perhaps more if this has been going on for awhile and elevated mold spores are found throughout the house, blown in by the a/c system.
The home inspection report should have stated that this air handler is 17 years old and should be replaced, mold air sampling should have been recommended to ensure no elevated levels inside the house and at least another paragraph about the potential damage that can not be seen before removing the air handler and the box below. If this is pointed out correctly, the homeowner either negotiates this to be fixed prior to purchase or at least knows there is a large expense as they move in. Some people have children with asthma or bronchial issues, and this could make their child very sick and the mom and dad have no idea why.
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