LARGER VIEW of an octopus furnaceDetailed Indoor & Boiler/Furnace Room Procedures for Inspecting Heating Systems

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How to inspect a heating system for defects, part 2: This document presents the indoor steps for inspecting residential heating systems with focus on heating boilers and furnaces, on assuring completeness, accuracy, and on maximum heating system defect detection. The heating system inspection methodology involved is intended to be generalized to the forensic diagnostic inspection of any complex system in order to have the highest probability of detecting important safety or operating defects. This sounds fancier than intended. Our object is to use an organized procedure for inspecting for defects, without losing the ability to discover unexpected problems as well. The methodology discussed includes both details specific to heating boilers (the full outline at "Contents") and more general complex-system inspection methods (listed immediately below).

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© Copyright Daniel Friedman 2008-1993 all rights reserved -- Tri-State ASHI Seminar -- Last update 08/03/2010 - first presentation November 6-7, 1993

Inside Heating System Observations - what do we look for when inspecting heating system components inside the building?

Viewpoint #2--Distant view of the heating equipment from the living area.

Heating Inspection Procedures When In the Living Area

These observations and conclusions can be made quickly without needing to ask anyone anything, as soon as you enter the building:

Type of Heat Distribution

ASHI 9.1.A.7 the presence of an installed heat source in each room. ASHI 9.3.D.4 The inspector is not required to observe the uniformity of heat supply to various rooms.

  • Air registers: hot-air furnace. Begin looking for supply and return grilles. Identification tip: return grilles often have no controlling louvers and may be centrally located. Distribution problems are not discussed in this presentation. See DUCT SYSTEMS
  • Baseboards - electric or hot water.
  • Radiators - hot water or steam. Steam: observe steam valves on each radiator and identify one pipe vs two-pipe distribution system.
  • Nothing visible: is there electric or hot water radiant heat. Watch for multiple types of heat supply: e.g.: baseboards, with electric heaters in bathrooms.

Heating Inspection Procedures When In the Utility Area

Viewpoint #3--Distant broad view of the heating equipment from the utility room. The equipment is directly in view but not yet closely examined.

ASHI 9.1.A. The Inspector shall observe permanently installed heating systems including: [items are listed later]
ASHI 9.2.A.2 The inspector shall describe heating equipment and distribution type

  1. Identify/confirm type of equipment
  2. Housekeeping, location of combustibles
  3. Air supply - see Combustion Air
  4. Sooty operation, odors, noises
  5. Evidence of recent maintenance
  6. Service tags vs filth atop the equipment or in the chimney was it really serviced?


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