Danger Lurks in Odd Places

I was out showing one of my short sale listings in Little Elm, Texas this evening. After showing the property, I did my usual walk-around to check on the property. As I looked at the front of the house, my eyes drifted to the roof of the neighboring property. It took me a few minutes to digest what I was seeing. It appeared that the chimney flue for the gas hot water heater was missing!

Missing Chimney FlueIt had either been removed or had dropped into the attic. Either way it is a highly dangerous situation. Gas furnaces and hot water heaters produce carbon monoxide (among other things) and the flue usually vents the exhaust gases into the air outside of the home. In this case the gases were being vented into the attic of the home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.”

I attempted to contact the homeowner but nobody was home. I wound up leaving a handwritten note on the front door letting them know about the danger.

It’s a good idea to inspect the outside of your home on a frequent basis. You can often find problems in their early stages. I usually look for termite tubes and fire ant mounds around the foundation line. I also check out the roof for missing or damaged shingles. I’ve added missing flues to my checklist.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR




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