HVAC systems are almost always the most expensive appliances in a home, so if you’re going through the home buying process, doing your homework now may save you a costly headache later.
It’s a mistake to underestimate the importance of your home heating and cooling systems.
Not only do you want to make sure your home comfort systems work when you need them most – on the coldest and hottest days of the year – but you also want to avoid costly replacement caused by catastrophic failure and ensure that the system meets your comfort needs.
These 5 tips can help you become more acquainted with HVAC systems as you go through the home buying process.
Tip #1 – What kind of HVAC system do you have?
Do you know what kind of HVAC system you have? Is it a low-end system that barely gets the job done or the Cadillac of HVAC systems?
Is it forced air, forced water, hybrid, steam, geothermal, or something else?
To complicate matters, home heating and cooling systems can be fueled by:
- Natural Gas
The type of fuel and the efficiency of your system will affect how much it costs you to heat and cool your home.
Get to know the equipment you’re getting ready to purchase. An HVAC system like a furnace can be intimidating since it’s made up of multiple components such as the heat exchanger, evaporator coil, thermostat, air filters, and more.
Know what parts of the system have been changed or updated. This can give you a good idea on where your money will go and when you will need to invest.
The bottom line is that you don’t know when the filters or condensers were maintained or the quality of work that was done.
Did the heating and cooling systems get annual preventative maintenance, or has it been several years since they were inspected?
Better safe than sorry.
If you’re unsure of anything, feel free to contact us today.
Pro tip: Most homes use forced air or forced water. If the home has ductwork and vents, it’s a forced air system. If the home has baseboard heating along the floor of the walls, it’s usually forced water.
Tip #2 – Assess the Age of the HVAC System
All home heating and cooling systems need to be maintained annually. If not, they can reach the end of their service life prematurely and unexpectedly: on the hottest and coldest days of the year.
Systems that are over 10 years old may be coming to the end of their service life, especially if they haven’t been properly maintained. Conversely, a well-maintained system can last years longer.
Not sure what to look for?
When the system is turned on, is it showing any of the 7 Signs of Heating and Cooling System Failure, such as rust and metal fatigue, or noisy operation?
If you answered yes to either of these, it is a concern you should raise.
Home inspections are a great place to get a second opinion, but you ought to be aware that a home inspection IS NOT and HVAC inspection.
Keep in mind that home inspections are done through visual analysis, which means your inspection will be mostly visual too. A home inspector will not be able to deeply inspect the heating and cooling system, so it’s recommended that you get an HVAC inspection as well.
If there is a concern the home inspector should recommend an HVAC professional to assess the system.
If you do need to replace or upgrade your system, energy efficiency rebates are an excellent way to offset your costs.
You can save thousands on home heating and cooling equipment by visiting NHsaves.com.
Tip #3 – Look for The Labels
Systems usually have labels that identify the efficiency of an HVAC unit.
You should be able to identify the equipment, fuel type and energy requirements needed to power them.
This info can help give you an idea of the age of the system.
Tip #4 – Maintenance Records & Utility Bills
Your HVAC system needs annual maintenance to operate properly. If you’re really interested in the home, it would be in your best interest to find out when the equipment has last been inspected and maintained.
Look for a job ticket or notations of the past inspection date. Some HVAC companies will initial or put their company stickers on the equipment itself. Take note of frequent repairs, especially on aging systems.
If you are seeing repeat services, it may be a sign that larger repairs or a replacement is not far in the future.
A good HVAC company should be able to supply basic service records and information.
Tip #5 – Assessing Rooms
Don’t let the excitement of being a new homeowner distract you from assessing the comfort levels in each room. Do any rooms feel stuffy or drafty? Too hot or too cold? Humid or moist?
3 out of 4 homes experience conditioned air – think money and comfort – leaking out of their ductwork, leading to high energy bills, humidity problems, and uncomfortable temperatures.
Oversized or undersized equipment can also be a major problem.
It pays to take these concerns seriously early on in the home buying process.
These five tips can help you assess the HVAC system in your dream home:
- What type of HVAC System Do You Have?
- Assess the Age of the HVAC System
- Look for the Labels
- Assessing Rooms
Knowing these HVAC basics can give you the confidence you need to strengthen your bargaining position and make a competitive offer.
Do you have any questions we haven’t answered? Don’t hesitate to give us a call today!
We can resolve your HVAC concerns, help ensure that your investment is worth the risk, and turn your home into your comfort zone.