A few days after settlement we noticed that water was pooling around the furnace. We had an HVAC guy come

Asked by Ben Jones, 20815 Sun Aug 9, 2009

out and he told us that we needed a new evaporator coil. However, as a result of the water leak there is now mold in the drywall in the basement. After cutting out the drywall it appears that this is not a new problem. On the disclosures the sellers checked no for water in the basement. Do we have any recourse for the non-functioning furnace/evaporator coil or the mold?

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Carolyn Thom…, Agent, Rockville, MD
Mon Aug 10, 2009
BEST ANSWER
I would say that you probably don't have any recourse on the mold issue. Just because there is a leak does not mean that they have a water issue. Everyone does not disclose that their washing machine or toilet has overflowed, but this can be a cause of mold that goes unnoticed.

Did the A/C repair come with a warranty? Was the coil fixed prior to closing? Sometimes older units have many things wrong with them. I know of a A/C company in Silver Spring that went to a property FOUR times, got the A/C working only for something else to break. In part it was there fault for not doing a thorough inspection of what had to be addressed when they came out. They fixed the part they thought was broken. The A/C ran and the next day the customer called them. ------The mold grew like wild fire.

It is tough to say that they knew of a prior moisture problem if their is not exposure. The mold had to come from somewhere. The extent of the mold may give you some indication. Was it obvious that they just cleared away the evidence of the mold?

If this is the case, then you should consider what your damages are and send them a bill. You need to consider how much money you would win if you went to court. If they refuse to pay, you may want to contact your attorney. Caution: If you do not win your case in court, you may have to pay for their attorney fees.

If you and your home inspector did not see the mold issue upon inspection, it is possible that the seller hadn't either. There are many people who do not realize that they have mold.

You may want to call the A/C repair company and get the history of service.

If the house was vacant when the A/C was fixed, they may not have had reason to run the A/C long enough to know themselves.- Consider how they were malicious than thing about how they would build their defense.
3 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Mon Aug 10, 2009
Have your licensed contractor provide you with their professioanl opinion of this stuation and take along with your purchase contract to an attorney for their review. It could be as simple as a well crafted letter from an attorney or..................

Good luck
1 vote
Cher Varnum-…, , Ellicott City, MD
Sun Aug 9, 2009
It is difficult to prove prior knowledge when some thing is found behind a wall. I had a problem similar in my personal home a few years ago. Water from the evaporator was backing up and overflowing back into the furnace because the drain outside was buried and was clogged (the drains are typically open inside the furnace or furnace room for clean out access). We had a licensed hvac guy come and clean the drain out. as well as the furnace and check it out. My son and I dug a french drain for the evaporator line to empty into and covered the end outside with wire mesh and clamped it to keep 'critters' out which might have been the blockage cause. We'll never know. He did recommend that we dump a cup of bleach monthly down the drain as the smell would chase critters away and also prevent mold & goo build up. Make sure the guy that came out was licensed in hvac. You might just need to clean the drain out and not need an new evaporator! We did get our furnace and entire system cleaned afterward as mold was starting to grow (grows fast in a basement). Get a dehumidifier and run it until the moisture level goes down. If the air conditioner was running well when you did your walk thru, is it that old it would break a few days later? Also, on a disclosure form,, checking water in the basement as a 'no' means they never saw any water in the basement. That is a disclosure of known facts, not what can't be seen. If it was behind drywall,, they would not have seen it. A good home inspector would have measured humidity levels and looked for moisture issues. If you didn't get an inspection beforehand, afterward is not a bad idea. I hope someone else with more knowledge can answer your question better. I'm just sharing what I've personally learned. Proving liability can be difficult and very expensive. Good luck! Cher
1 vote
Tina Beasley, Agent, Saint Augustine, FL
Mon Aug 10, 2009
Before you settled, you should have requested that the unit be cleaned and service by a licensed HVAC company. Then the seller would have given you a receipt for the work. That way, the problem would have been discovered before you settled. Anytime there is a question about something working, you do not rely on an agent (either yours or especially the sellers) to tell you that it is working. That was your first mistake.

And as the other agents here have said, it could be very expensive to try to put this back on the seller. My advice to you is to get this problem fixed and move forward and be happy with you new home. Things happen...roofs leak, water heaters go up, pipe leak or burst, etc. That is all part of owning a home. Unfortunately, it just happened a little soon for you. Always have some money put back for things that come up so that you can address the problem when it arises. All homeowners experience something like this from time to time. Hopefully, you purchased or were given a home warranty to help you cover the cost of the repair.

Tina Beasley
Real Estate Professionals, Inc.
443-243-1832 Cell
410-234-2244 Office
0 votes
Ben Jones, Home Buyer, 20815
Sun Aug 9, 2009
Also, at the home inspection we were unable to get the AC working and so in what they were supposed to fix it says to have the AC unit inspected and repaired and replace some insulation. They came back and said that the AC did in fact work and did have the insulation replaced. At the walk through the AC had just been turned on by the sellers' agent and was blowing cold air but hadn't been on long enough for any water to be present.
0 votes
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