Category Archives: Heating/Appliances


Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.
This month, we talk about heating systems with Alex Gravley, manager at Foss Heating & Cooling in Mount Vernon.

Q1: Home inspectors are always calling for annual service of furnaces, fireplaces and heat pumps. Is this really necessary?

It sure is! Yearly maintenance not only ensures that the comfort system is performing at its rated output and efficiency, but can identify potential problems like component failure/wear and fix issues before they become emergency repairs.

Q2: When you inspect furnaces, are you able to fully see and inspect the heat exchanger? This critical component isn’t fully visible to home inspectors.

We cannot fully inspect a heat exchanger on a furnace without completely removing it. This service is not intended by manufacturers and thus is difficult and time-consuming. We employ a few procedures to ensure the heat exchanger is intact. A combination of pressure testing, Carbon Monoxide testing, visual inspection, and flue gas analysis is the best way to be sure a heat exchanger is not in failure and dangerous. 

Q3: Do customers get an economy-of-scale discount by contracting with you to service multiple appliances in one trip?

Yes, we have lower pricing built in for our customers that have multiple units to service all at once.

Bonus Q: Is it really important to make sure the arrows on furnace filters are pointed in the correct direction, or is this kind of silly?

There is an anti-microbial coating on many disposable media filters that is only on one side of the filter. This is the main reason for the arrows, but in reality, someone would likely not notice a difference if the filter was installed backward.

About Foss Heating & Cooling

Foss Heating & Cooling has been serving Skagit Valley since 1974. The company specializes in residential and light commercial service, retrofit, air quality, and water heaters. The business is a Trane Comfort Specialist and Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer, which means that Foss Heating & Cooling must attend training and offer support for those brands while servicing all other brands as well. The company’s focus is on 100 percent customer satisfaction and taking extra care to educate clients on the importance of proper equipment sizing, efficiency, safety, air quality, yearly service, and properly sized, sealed, and insulated ductwork.

For more information, visit
A big “thanks” to Alex for his responses!

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).


Is your flue pipe a little too cozy with other elements of your home? 

During a recent home inspection on Shaw Island, I noticed a combination furnace-water heater double wall B-vent flue pipe in direct contact with sheetrock and floor carpeting within a hallway closet. 

This is a big “no-no” because the pipe did not observe proper clearance-from-combustible requirements, a significant safety issue. 

Typically, 1″ of space, free and clear from contact, is advised around this type of piping.

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


So, your kitchen isn’t exactly top-of-the-line anymore?

Maybe the dishwasher doesn’t make the dishes quite as sparkly clean as it used to? Or perhaps the milk doesn’t seem quite so cold, even though the refrigerator runs at a low setting?

This week, I wanted to share a helpful video produced by This Old House entitled “How to Maintain Kitchen Appliances.” Maybe, just maybe, it will help you to get one more ice cube or heat another hot kettle of water.

Do you have questions or comments about home inspections in general? Go “All” in and tweet us (@AIHomeInspect).


So, the Koi Pond in the backyard isn’t enough, and you want to create an underfloor lake in your home as well? We have an easy solution: consider removing your washing machine’s drain pan!

However, if an in-home body of water isn’t part of your home renovation plans, the installation of a drain pan may be in order. Recently, during an inspection on Orcas Island, Washington, I came across this relatively common issue. Drain pans can help safeguard against water damage in the event of a future potential leak in laundry rooms. 

I’ve seen plenty of occurrences where this small, preventative measure could have saved homeowners lots of cash and peace of mind. Pans are readily available at home improvement stores, in plumbing supply outlets and online, and are simple to install.

Questions or comments about water damage or home inspections in general? Go “All” in and let us know at @AIHomeInspect