Fitting New Condo Safety Issues and defects into the Top 10 list is going to be a little tight, but you can find out about many other bad things from the Chicago condos by checking entire Chicago Condo Inspection Manual.

You would think that after such a spectacular real estate meltdown, something would change in the Chicago construction business. I’m talking of course about some kind of an improvement, a positive reaction from the Chicago building department inspectors who have magically disappeared for several years now.

With less construction going on, they now have a chance to re-emerge again; they can do some good by checking the major safety issues in those new condos and help buyers walk into much safer homes … make-up for what they didn’t do in the last few years.

Unfortunately, nothing good is happening. The Chicago building inspectors must be somewhere else because I’m seeing the same serious problems on brand new construction sites.

It’s depressing and it doesn’t look like any help is coming our way, unless they are planning some undercover action against all those properties.

House Maintenance Top Ten List of the Chicago New Condo Safety Issues / Life Threatening Conditions!

Condo inspection - entry doors leading to an enclosed staircase, hallway or garage must be self and fully closing

Non-functional self-closing feature on condo entrance doors from the building staircases and missing weather stripping – those doors must automatically and fully close and must not have gaps along all 4 edges to prevent fire and smoke penetration. Fire feeds on oxygen and fresh air leaking from withing your unit will cause it to spread out further, and smoke to contaminate your living quarters.

Single combustion air port on the furnace closet door or wall is not sufficient and installed too high. The minimum requirement is one within 12 inches from the floor and second within 12 inches from the ceilingGas furnace and / or water heater closet combustion air requirement – all fuel burning appliances require oxygen to support complete and clean combustion. Unless the appliances are designed to use exterior air only, there must be air-supplying ports installed within the closet.

In many condominiums, there is either no combustion air vents provided, installed vents are too small, or they’re improperly located. All of these items could cause Carbon Monoxide to develop and contaminate the residence.

Chicago new condo furnace inspection - furnace metal vent pipe joints must be secured with screwsFurnace and water heater vent pipes are loose, unsupported, or not secured with screws / or glued (only for PVC pipes) at joints. With limited storage space in condos, occupants often use the furnace / water heater closet to store … well, everything.

With loose, unsupported vent pipes, it’s easy to displace them without even noticing it. When that happens, exhaust gases will be discharging into your apartment instead of the chimney.

Condo furnace room firewall violation on pipes and air ducts penetrating ceilingCondo firewall penetrations – I can assure you that nobody cares about it. Not a developer, heating contractor, plumber, drywall installer, and certainly not a Chicago building inspector. It’s a celebration when I see a condo with properly (or at all) sealed fire wall penetrations.

In case of a fire, all those openings create an escape route for smoke, and might allow flames to spread out / consume framing of the structure

House maintenance - improper type of the vent pipe connector used on WHNatural draft water heater and induced draft motor equipped furnace vent pipes require Y shapped connectors - T is not permittedImproper type / shape of a connector used between the natural draft water heater and an induced draft furnace vent pipes. Pipes must be joined together with a “Y” shaped connector instead of a “T” type to prevent the possibility of the furnace exhaust gases being pushed back into the water heater vent pipe.

Bathroom GFCI protection - hydro-massage tub motor terminal needs to be bonded to the water pipe

Ungrounded Jacuzzi / hydro-spa pump motors – unless the motor is double insulated (rarely), it has a ground terminal attached to its metal body. This terminal must be bonded with a water pipe using #8 solid copper wire and a special clamp, which is almost NEVER done. In some cases, correcting this problem after the tub has been installed, and access to water pipes blocked with tiles, might be quite expensive

GFCI outlet installation - Smart Lock GFCI testingImproperly wired GFCI outlet receptacles (bathrooms, kitchens, laundry if required, exterior, and/or garages) – if the contractor uses newer devices, they simply won’t work unless correctly wired. However, older GFCI receptacles (some electricians must keep a load of them, because they still use it) have a defect and even if tripped, the power remains ON. Make sure that you test all your GFCI outlet receptacles on regular basis – GFCI testing

Bathroom window safety glass - required for any windows within 60 inches from the tub or shower standing surface

Missing tempered type glass in bathroom windows located within 60” from the shower stall or tub standing surface – there must an etched label in one of the corners of the window pane confirming that it is tempered. Some custom made windows might not have this etching or label attached, and in such case you should contact the manufacturer

Condo furnace inspection - missing bottom closure plate inside the air return compartmentMissing furnace bottom closing plate – new furnaces are often delivered with an open bottom for the connection of a return duct. Whenever this isn’t used (air return connected to the side of the furnace), there must be a special metal plate installed over the opening to prevent bi-products of combustion from being sucked into the circulating air

Condo safety issues - high voltage lamp wire penetrating wallThe wiring of high voltage lighting under the kitchen cabinets installed inside the wall cavities without conduit protection

If anyone you know has recently purchased a new or newer (within the last few years) condo in Chicago, share this Top Ten List of the Chicago New Condo Safety Issues with them.

For more details on each of the items above, many other new condo issues, and how you can inspect most of your condo by yourself / without any tools or special knowledge, check the Chicago New Condo Inspection Manual.

It won’t cost you a penny and might save your life, or at least some money that you have already invested in that not so perfect home. Go ahead, start investigating and let me know about your new condo safety issues.

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