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Another kind of cold shower

You guys will LOVE this.  My first home inspection of the day was an older home, built around 1932.   From the outside, the house looks to be in decent shape.  A quick walk around it showed only minor problems.  I do my thing outside, and head indoors.  Nothing too shocking here either.  I head upstairs and start in the bathroom.  I noticed the shower curtain pulled closed…..hmm.  Why would a vacant home have the shower curtain pulled closed?

After checking the electrical outlets (which had problems of their own) I shifted my attention to the toilet.  Floor wasn’t soft. Good.  Flushed OK, check.  No leaks. Toilet seems sound.  It must be looked at closely.  A leak can cause serious damage to the sub-floor, the floor joists, and the ceiling below.  You don’t want that.

I slide the cutain open (which I believe was closed to try and “hide” something from me–sorry.  I’m perceptive.)   I could hardly contain myself.

For what do my eyes behold… Oh just a HVAC vent CUT out of the tiled wall surround in the shower.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It appears that when someone decided to tile the shower walls, they thought it was good idea to install an air vent IN the shower.  Nice.

HVAC Vent in the Shower

Can you image the amount of water that will make it down to the furnace?

Now please understand that it’s not a good idea to do this.  It’s not like the vent was in the ceiling.

Heck, it would kinda, sorta, maybe, but not really be OK for the vent to be in the shower wall… but up high.

This vent was about 16 inches from the top of the tub…in the ONLY bathroom in the house.  So you can figure at least twice a day, it was used.

Let’s break down the facts.  The average home uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute @ 80 psi.  I’d say the average shower is around 15 minutes.  So that leaves you with a shower of 37.50 gallons used.  We all know that ALL that water is not going in the vent, but lets say that 10% of that water is.  That’s 3.75 gallons of water per shower.  Holy Smokes!

If you agree with the fact that the shower on average gets used twice a day (which is probably a low figure) that’s almost 8 gallons a day!  In the vent!

That comes to 2,920 gallons a year!  Or 584 five gallon buckets!

All that water is pouring back into the furnace, wreaking havoc.

The moral of the story is this.  People do strange, stupid things to their homes.  Most of the time they are not as evident as this, but just as severe.  If you are buying a home, get a home inspection.  Find a good home inspector; don’t take the cheapest bid, as this guy will NOT help you.

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Ben Hendricks

owner at ABI Home Services
Hi, I'm Ben, and I inspect houses.I grew up with a hammer in my hand, and have been a professional home inspector for 10 years.My blog is here for info about Home Inspections around the Louisville KY area, and just about anything construction related.
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