Ad­dress is­sues with home be­fore war­ranty ex­pires

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - ARI MARANTZ

QWe’ve been liv­ing in our newly built home for about a month now. We have a home war­ranty that will cover some of the prob­lems we might find and I just came across some is­sues that I was hop­ing I can get ad­vice on. I no­ticed one of our guest bed­rooms has a vent cov­ered with car­pet. As I stepped on the car­pet I no­ticed a soft spot un­der­neath cut out in a shape of a rec­tan­gle be­side another vent. I’m as­sum­ing the builder will fix this. After notic­ing this, I pulled off all the floor reg­is­ters for all the vents in the house and no­ticed two of our vents up­stairs on our third floor have no duct work inside. Is this nor­mal? I fig­ured this may be a re­turn vent, but if so shouldn’t there be some kind of duct work inside? Also, I no­ticed our two guest bed­rooms, which are smaller than our master bed­room, have more vents to heat the room. Is that nor­mal or abide by code rules? From the two vents we have in our master bed­room, only one sup­plies heat and the other vent is one of the vents that have no duct work inside. Is this nor­mal? Do you know any guide­lines that lay out all the codes that state what the re­quire­ments are for how many should be in­stalled in a room? I just want to be pre­pared when I bring th­ese is­sues to our builder. Hope to hear from you soon. Any ad­vice would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. Thank you, Liselle Vicedo An­swer: One of the least-changed items in our homes over the last half cen­tury is the forced-air heat­ing sys­tem. Re­quire­ments for heat­ing ducts are rel­a­tively straight­for­ward and li­censed tech­ni­cians should have all the in­for­ma­tion re­quired to prop­erly in­stall them in a new home. De­spite this, prob­lems such as the ones you have dis­cov­ered are common and should be im­me­di­ately ad­dressed to pre­vent long-term con­se­quences. In new homes things of­ten get over­looked or mis­takes are made, which should be brought to the builder’s at­ten­tion im­me­di­ately. Most new homes in our area are cov­ered by some form of home war­ranty. Th­ese pro­grams nor­mally re­quire the builder to ad­dress and cor­rect is­sues or er­rors found within the first year of oc­cu­pancy. It may be your re­spon­si­bil­ity to point th­ese out, but the onus is on the con­trac­tors to cor­rect any mis­takes or omis­sions. The dif­fi­culty most home­own­ers run into is builders are of­ten un­likely to re­turn quickly to ad­dress th­ese is­sues, ei­ther due to a lack of time or re­sources. Re­gard­less, you should im­me­di­ately con­tact the builder and alert them to the need to cor­rect the ex­tra open­ing you have found in your bed­room floor. There are two pos­si­bil­i­ties for the pres­ence of the ex­tra rec­tan­gu­lar hole in the floor sheath­ing be­neath the car­pet in your bed­room. The first is that some­one im­prop­erly mea­sured the lo­ca­tion of the re­turn-air duct and cut a hole in the floor sheath­ing for the reg­is­ter in the wrong spot. This may also have oc­curred if the open­ing was cut and the heat­ing tech­ni­cian de­cided to move the reg­is­ter, for what­ever rea­son. Since you have a reg­is­ter lo­cated be­side the other open­ing, this is the most likely sce­nario. In that case, the builder should im­me­di­ately send a ser­vice per­son to pull back the car­pet and patch the open­ing with a small piece of ply­wood or OSB sheath­ing, be­fore re-stretch­ing the car­pet to its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion. This quick re­pair is very im­por­tant to pre­vent in­jury to any­one who may in­ad­ver­tently step on the void. The sec­ond pos­si­bil­ity is the orig­i­nal open­ing is in the cor­rect lo­ca­tion, and the cur­rent reg­is­ter was in­stalled in an area where the duct­ing was im­prop­erly thought to be. In that case, the car­pet will have to be cut away from the other hole, and the reg­is­ter moved over to the proper lo­ca­tion. The dif­fi­culty with that sit­u­a­tion is re­pair­ing the car­pet over the im­proper hole. It may be nec­es­sary to re­place the en­tire car­pet, or seam a larger sec­tion, to make it look good. While the cos­metic as­pect of the floor cov­er­ing may be im­por­tant to you, the pos­si­bil­ity of a miss­ing re­turn-air reg­is­ter will be a more se­ri­ous con­cern for proper heat dis­tri­bu­tion. In our area, it is ac­cept­able to use the space be­tween the floor joists for the sides of the re­turn-air duct for the forced-air heat­ing sys­tem. The bot­tom of the joist cav­ity should be cov­ered with metal or foil-cov­ered card­board, but some­times only the back­side of the dry­wall ceil­ing be­low may be vis­i­ble. While this con­fig­u­ra­tion may not be al­lowed in other ju­ris­dic­tions, the dry­ness of our am­bi­ent air dur­ing the heat­ing sys­tem pre­vents this from cre­at­ing ma­jor prob­lems. To de­ter­mine if the cur­rent reg­is­ter is lo­cated cor­rectly, you can per­form a sim­ple test. When the fur­nace fan is run­ning on high speed, hold a sin­gle sheet of toi­let pa­per or a long-necked lighter just above the reg­is­ter. If the re­turn-air duct­ing is prop­erly con­fig­ured, the pa­per or the flame of the lighter should be drawn to­ward the reg­is­ter. Care must be taken to pre­vent the pa­per from be­ing sucked into the cav­ity. The lighter test should only be done for a few seconds, at most, to pre­vent burn­ing the reg­is­ter cover or other com­po­nents. There are codes and re­quire­ments for proper siz­ing and ca­pac­ity of heat­ing ducts, but that should be left up to pro­fes­sion­ally trained tech­ni­cians. The lo­ca­tion and num­ber of reg­is­ters for in­di­vid­ual rooms may vary de­pend­ing on prox­im­ity to the fur­nace, size of the rooms, num­ber of win­dows and other vari­ables beyond the scope of knowl­edge of most home­own­ers. Test­ing with sim­ple house­hold items to en­sure proper air­flow is com­ing in and out of the ap­pro­pri­ate reg­is­ters should be within your skill set. If th­ese sim­ple tests prove neg­a­tive, or if you find cer­tain rooms have un­even heat­ing or cool­ing rel­a­tive to oth­ers, con­tact your builder to re­view and cor­rect any de­fi­cien­cies be­fore the ex­piry of the one-year home war­ranty pro­vi­sions. Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home In­spec­tion Ltd. and past pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Home & Prop­erty In­spec­tors — Man­i­toba (cahpi.mb.ca). Ques­tions can be emailed to the ad­dress be­low. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check

out his web­site at trained­eye.ca.

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