7. Heating and Plumbing
7.1 Adequacy of Heating Equipment
“Adequate heat” means that the heating system is capable of
delivering enough heat to assure a healthy environment in the unit
(appropriate to the climate). The HA is responsible for defining what
constitutes a healthy living environment in the area of the country in
which it operates. Local codes (city or state codes) should be
instructive in arriving at a r easonable local definition. For example,
for heat adequacy, local codes often require that the unit’s heating
facility be capable of maintaining a given temperature level during a
designated time period. Portable electric room heaters or kitchen
stoves or r anges w ith a bu ilt-in h eat un it a re not ac ceptable a s a
primary s ource of heat for units located in ar eas w here c limate
conditions require regular heating.
“Directly or indirectly to all rooms used for living” means:
“Directly” means that each r oom used f or living has a heat
source (e.g., working radiator; working hot air register;
‘’indirectly’’ means that, if there i s no heat source present in
the room, heat can enter the room easily from a heated
adjacent r oom ( e.g a dining r oom may not hav e a r adiator,
but would receive heat from the heated living room through a
large open archway).
If the heating system in the unit works, but there is some question
whether a room w ithout a heat source w ould receive adequate
indirect heat, check “Inconclusive” and verify adequacy from tenant
or owner (e.g., unheated bedroom at the end of a long hallway).
How to determine the capability of the heating system: If the unit is
occupied, usually the quickest way to determine the capability of
the heating system over time is to question the tenant. If the unit is
not oc cupied, or the tenant has not lived in the unit during t he
months when heat would be needed, check “Inclusive.” It will be
necessary to question the owner on this point af ter the inspection
has been completed and, if possible, to question other tenants (if it
is a muIti-unit structure) about the adequacy of he at pr ovided.
Under some circumstances, t he ade quacy of he at c an be det er-
mined by a simple comparison of the size of the heating system to
the area to be heated. For example, a small permanently installed
space h eater in a living r oom i s pr obably i nadequate f or heat ing
anything larger than a relatively small apartment.
7.2 Safety of Heating Equipment
Examples of “unvented fuel burning space heaters” are: portable
kerosene units; unvented open flame portable units.
‘’Other unsafe conditions’’ include: breakage or damage to heating
system such that t here is a potential for fire or ot her threats t o
safety; improper connection of flues al lowing ex haust ga ses t o
enter the living area; improper installation of equipment ( e.g.,
proximity of f uel t ank t o h eat s ource, absence of safety d evices);
indications of improper use of equipment ( e.g., ev idence of heavy
build-up of soot, creosote, or other substance in the chimney);
disintegrating equipment; combustible materials ne ar h eat s ource
or flue. See Inspection Manual for a more detailed discussion of the
inspection of safety aspects of the heating systems.
If y ou are unable t o gain a ccess t o t he primary heating system in
the unit check ‘ ’Inconclusive." Contact the owner or manager f or
verification of safety of the s ystem. If t he s ystem has passed a
recent local inspection, check ‘ ’Pass.” This apppies especially t o
units in w hich he at i s pr ovided by a large s cale, c omplex central
heating system that s erves multiple u nits ( e.g., a boiler in the
basement of a large apa rtment bu ilding). I n most cases, a large
scale he ating system for a multi-unit bui lding w ill be s ubject t o
periodic safety inspections by a local public agency. Check with the
owner or manager to determine the date and outcome of the last
such inspection, or look for an inspection certificate posted on t he
7.3 Ventilation and Adequacy of Cooling
If the tenant is present and has occupied the unit during the
summer months, inquire about the adequacy of air flow. If the
tenant is not present or has not occupied the unit during the
summer months, test a sample of windows to see that they open
(see Inspection Manual for instruction).
“Working cooling equipment’’ includes: central (fan) ventilation system;
evaporative cooling system; room or central air conditioning.
Check “ Inconclusive” if there ar e no operable w indows and it is
impossible, or inappropriate, to test whether a cooling system
works. Check w ith ot her tenants in the building ( in a muIti-unit
structure) a nd w ith the ow ner or manager for verification of t he
adequacy of ventilation and cooling.
7.4 Water Heater
"Location presents hazard’’ means that the gas or oil water heater
is located in living areas or closets where safety hazards may exist
(e.g., water heater located in very cluttered closet with cloth and
paper items stacked against it). Gas water heaters in bedrooms or
other living areas must have safety dividers or shields.
Water heaters must have a temperature- pressure relief valve and
discharge line ( directed t oward t he f loor or out side o f t he living
area) as a safeguard against build up of steam if the water heater
malfunctions. If not, they are not properly equipped and shall fail.
To pas s, ga s or oil fired w ater heaters must be vented i nto a
properly installed chimney or f lue leading outside. E lectric w ater
heaters do not require venting.
If it is impossible to view the water heater, check “Inconclusive.”
Obtain verification of safety of system from owner or manager.
Check "Pass" if t he water he ater ha s pas sed a l ocal i nspection.
This applies primarily to hot water that is supplied by a l arge scale
complex water heating system that serves multiple units (e.g.,
water heat ing s ystem in large apar tment bu ilding). Check in the
same manner described for heating system safety, item 7.2, above.
7.5 Water Supply
If the s tructure is connected t o a city or town water system, check
‘’Pass.” If the structure has a private water supply ( usually in rural
into the nature of the supply (probably fr
om the owner)
and whether it is approvable by an appropriate public agency.
General note: If items 7.5, 7.6, or 7,7 are checked “Inconclusive,”
check with owner or manager for verification of adequacy.
“Major l eaks” m eans t hat main w ater dr ain and feed pipes ( often
located in t he ba sement) ar e s eriously l eaking. ( Leaks pr esent at
specific facilities have already been evaluated under the checklist
items for “Bathroom” and “Kitchen.”)
“Corrosion” ( causing serious and persistent levels of rust or
contamination in the drinking water) can be determined by
observing the color of the dr inking water at ssveral taps. B adly
corroded pipes will produce noticeably brownish water. If the tenant
is currently occupying the unit, he or she should be able to provide
information about the persistence of this condition. (Make sure that
the “rusty water” is not a temporary condition caused by city or town
maintenance of main water lines.) See general note under 7.5.
7.7 Sewer Connection
If the structure is connected to the city or town sewer system, check
“Pass.” If t he s tructure ha s its own pr ivate di sposal s ystem ( e.g.,
septic f ield), inquire i nto the nature of t he system and determine
whether this type of system can meet appropriate health and safety
The following conditions constitute “evidence of sewer back up”:
strong sewer gas smell in the basement or outside of unit;
numerous clogged or very slow drains; marshy areas outside of unit
above septic field. See general note under 7.5.
Previous editions are obsolete Page 16 of 19 ref Handbook 7420.8 form HUD-52580-A (9/00)