Dear Barry,

The people who are buying our home hired a home inspector, and we made the mistake of not attending the inspection. My husband is a PE (civil engineer), and he disagrees with some of the home inspector’s findings. For example, the inspector said the fireplace is cracked and needs cleaning. But we had it cleaned and inspected when we bought the home and have only used gas logs since. He also said the air conditioner needs repair, but our AC guy documented the unit as fully operational and free of defects. Still, the buyers want these things repaired. Should we merely provide documentation, or is there something else we can do to reassure the buyers? – Jan

Dear Jan,

Inaccurate real estate disclosure can hatch a whole nest of costly and disruptive problems in the aftermath of a sale, sometimes many years later. Therefore, full clarification at this time is essential, rather than allowing disparities of opinion to foment future conflict. The first step in promoting a reasonable resolution is to arrange a meeting by all concerned parties. Therefore, you should call the home inspector and request that he meet at the property with you, your engineer husband, the AC guy, the buyers and the agents. The inspector can then point out the specific conditions observed during the inspection. If the fireplace is cracked, where is the crack? If the chimney needs cleaning, where is the soot? If there are observable defects with the AC system, these should be made apparent. Before completing the sale, there should be a full and satisfactory consensus regarding the true condition of the property.

Dear Barry,

My condo association hired Plumber #1 to install thermal expansion tanks on all the water heaters in our complex. While doing this, he tested my water heater system and found 115 pounds (psi) of water pressure. He said the “pressure relief valve” needed to be replaced and proceeded to make that repair. But I did not notice any change in water pressure, so I hired Plumber #2 to test my system. Plumber #2 found only 50 psi of pressure and said there was no reason to replace the pressure relief valve. I then questioned Plumber #1 regarding his readings. He insisted that the pressure had been 115 psi and said he had manually adjusted my pressure relief valve to the 50 psi reading. How can I know whom to trust? – Anna

Dear Anna,

The problem here may involve a discrepancy in terminology. Water pressure is adjusted at the pressure regulator, not the pressure relief valve. The purpose of the relief valve is to release water in the event of excessively high pressure, thus relieving stress on the plumbing system. Why Plumber #1 would want to address high water pressure by replacing the pressure relief valve is a mystery, unless he actually meant repair or replacement of the pressure regulator. The only time you would replace the valve would be if it were leaking. Otherwise its replacement would have no remedial effect on high pressure. Given these circumstances, I would be inclined to trust the findings and recommendations of Plumber #2.

To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at


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