DEAR BARRY: Last week, we replaced our old, leaky water heater, but there was a huge additional expense. The plumber said our exhaust flue didn’t meet code. It was installed through a basement window and did not extend up to the roof. We paid an additional $600 to install a proper flue pipe. When we bought the home two years ago, our home inspector did not report this problem. If he had, we could have requested repair by the sellers. Is our home inspector liable for the cost of this repair? –George
DEAR GEORGE: A flue pipe should not terminate at an openable window because this allows exhaust gases to enter the home. A defect of this kind should be obvious to any qualified home inspector. You may have a valid claim against your inspector, but there are a few complications that are likely to cloud the issue.
First is the $600 charge to extend the flue pipe above the roof line or to another approved location. Unless there were extraordinary circumstances to prevent a simple flue pipe installation, it is difficult to justify this many dollars for a routine installation. Your home inspector may claim that you were overcharged for the repair, and he might be correct in that assertion.
Second is the fact that you repaired the problem before notifying your home inspector. Many home inspection contracts contain a requirement that you contact your inspector before making repairs. This allows the inspector to evaluate the situation and propose a solution.