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New Construction Fails, part five: Drywall Dust in HVAC System

From early building phases, to the pre-drywall walkthrough, to the final walkthrough, new construction is NOT immune to problems / defects / improper building practices.

If you find that hard to believe, we’ve written this post for you!

This is Part FIVE in a series of posts where our goal is to show you just some examples of the things we find when we inspect brand new homes. Maybe you’ll be surprised by some of these…but we hope–if you plan to buy new construction–that you don’t have to be surprised by seeing them in your own house after you’ve moved in!

Drywall Dust in the HVAC System

Unless the temperature is sunny and 70° where you live all year round, the people who build new homes will likely decide to run your HVAC system at some point during the construction process. This is especially true during the winter when temperatures are cold–your furnace / heat pump will often be running to keep the home somewhat warm. This is both for the comfort of those working long hours in the house, and also to keep water from freezing in the pipes.

But it’s important to know that–at least in my (the author’s) experience doing home inspections–every HVAC manufacturer gives very specific provisions for conditions that need to be met. As an example, take a look at this (slightly blurry, sorry!) photo of some installation instructions for a Goodman HVAC system:

Filters Must Be Replaced Daily

The first time I read this in a set of installation instructions it almost made me laugh! This is because I’d be willing to bet that 90-95% of builders do not ensure that each HVAC air filter is installed and replaced DAILY. If you’re having a new home built, go ahead and ask your builder whether someone is changing the air filter every day!

HVAC System Must Be Thoroughly Cleaned Following Construction Clean Up

This is one of those things I can almost count on putting in my inspection report for the client–it’s THAT common! In my experience it was more common to find an HVAC air handler and blower covered with drywall dust, than to find one that had been thoroughly cleaned. Most of them look something like this:

This is a brand new HVAC system...imagine moving into your home and this is what your ducts already look like!

These photos were taken during a final walkthrough inspection. This means that the home should essentially be move-in ready (and therefore that this HVAC system should have been “thoroughly cleaned” per manufacturer’s installation instructions).

It Could Void Your Warranty

Maybe you’re wondering: “How important is this really?” 

Or more likely, the question is implied by your builder when you show them the inspection report and their response is something like, “This is totally normal / That’s not something we address.”

Well, if you want to ensure that your warranty stays intact…it’s crucially important! When the manufacturer states that “Damage or repairs due to failure to comply with these requirements are not covered under the warranty”, that is authoritative. Your home inspector can help you to find the installation instructions for your specific HVAC system. This should help towards ensuring that the components of your new HVAC system are indeed thoroughly cleaned by the time you move in.

In conclusion, don’t assume that your new home is free from issues! Get a qualified home inspector who can document the issues they observe in a report. This obviously helps to equip you as the homebuyer–and there are also plenty of builders who are grateful for the information, as it can help pinpoint the issues that need addressing when they have so many projects and sites to check on.

– The Team @ HomeKey Inspections