air intake HVAC

So what happens if it DOES snow?

Roberson1 (9)One advantage of living in Asotin is that the whole Lewis-Clark valley is considered to be a 'banana belt'- we're normally 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding prairies. We're also a desert. The average rainfall in Lewiston, Idaho is about 13 inches per year. Pullman get about 20 inches which makes it a semi-arid desert but the great soil in the Palouse hold water well and allows for dry land farming. A lot of their moisture happens this time of year, in the form of snow.

In the valley, we snicker. Most of the time, if we get 'snow', it's a dusting and we broom it off as we get on our way.  Very little fuss.

This leads the builders in the valley to occasionally entertain bad ideas on what constitutes good construction. If you take a quick gander at the picture above, you can see a prime example.

The picture was taken on an inspection of a brand new home. Can you see the problem?

Yep, whoever it was that pointed out the air intake (the curved one) is way too close to the roof deck wins a Tootsie Pop.

The intake should be much high off the roof deck (I recommended 12") so that, in the event of snow, it doesn't get blocked. The ultra-high efficiency furnace that is connected to the intake has a sensor that measures how much combustion air is getting pulled in. If it doesn't sense enough air, the furnace will not start.


It's winter and we definitely want the furnace to fire off and keep our tushes warm. We also don't want to make a service call (on overtime rate because it always happens that way - Murphy's Law is immutable and irrepressible) to get a perfectly acceptable system working again. And even if you know what the problem is, do you really want to climb onto a snow covered roof to fix it?

This is an easy fix. Add some height to both the exhaust and air intake. Viola, end of this particular problem.

And yes, it should have been caught by the building official but cut them a little slack. Like the rest of us, they're human and can miss something. Yes, it should have been caught by everybody up and down the construction cycle. That's why you hire an inspector, even for new homes-we're the last link in the chain of people (builder, contractors, code official, agent, inspector) that are trying to make you happy in your new home.

Keep that intake clear and stay warm, folks.