Hunting for a new home is an exciting time, but there is a lot to keep track of, and sometimes it’s easy to overlook the obvious. Most homes now have some kind of HVAC system to keep the home comfortable, no matter what the weather is doing outside. So, it’s likely that your new home will have a system already in place, and it’s a great idea to get to know it before you make the purchase. An HVAC system is a complex piece of equipment, there are many things that could be wrong, and it could fail after you’ve signed on the dotted line. In this article, we will explore these and other HVAC issues from the perspective of a new home buyer.
5 Questions to Ask
It’s important to gather information about the HVAC system to assess its current status. This will help the buyer to evaluate the condition of the equipment, how likely it is to fail, and when a replacement is likely. This is essential; any major problems could be a negotiating point, HVAC repairs or a replacement should be reflected in the final purchase price. Let’s take a look at five key questions that you need to ask the seller about the HVAC system.
- What is the HVAC model, brand, fuel type, and efficiency rating?
- What type of equipment is installed, is it still under warranty and how old is the HVAC system?
- Do you have the HVAC maintenance agreement, and is this transferrable if you purchase the home?
- Do you have copies of the HVAC maintenance and repair records?
- Do you have a programmable thermostat installed?
4 Major Deal Breakers
Some home buyers have money set aside to pay for repairs, and this could include HVAC upgrades. But, in reality, the last thing that you want to do is to pay for HVAC repairs and/or replacements right after you made the down payment. No matter the age of the home or the condition of the HVAC system, the buyer should insist on a warranty to cover any issues for at least the first year. During the tour of the home, if you notice any HVAC issues, it’s important to bring these up with the seller. If the seller refuses to compromise on any of the following four HVAC issues, this should be regarded as a major deal breaker.
- Old, Outdated and Problem Prone
An average HVAC system has a useful lifespan of around 15 years in total. If the equipment is good quality and well maintained, it’s more likely to last longer. If the HVAC system is older than a decade or perhaps it has performance issues, the seller should repair or even replace the equipment. In many cases, the seller will not want to make the necessary changes; you could ask for a discount on the price or an allowance that will allow you to install a new HVAC system once the home purchase is completed.
- Bad Ductwork Issues
The HVAC system is only as good as the ductwork system that’s used to distribute the treated air. If the HVAC duct system is poorly laid out or it’s leaking and cracked, it will not work efficiently. A bad ductwork system will allow the cooled or heated air to escape, and this has a dramatic effect on the performance and energy efficiency. Take some time to check the ductwork for cracks, breaks, and loose connections. These issues should be repaired by the seller before you make a final commitment to buy. Although it is true that ductwork can be easily repaired with duct tape, this should be regarded as a temporary fix. The ductwork should be professionally repaired, but in most cases, it’s cheaper to simply replace the ductwork instead. So, don’t tolerate temporary repairs and insist on a professional job before you buy.
- Poor Insulation Levels
It’s extremely difficult to check the levels of insulation inside the walls without professional help. The best a buyer can do on their own is to take a peek in the attic and check for a blanket of insulation on the floor there. Any sections of ductwork that run through those spaces should also be covered with a layer of insulation. If the insulation levels are thin or non-existant the seller should remedy the situation. If the seller will not fix the problem themselves, ask for a reduction in the asking price to purchase and install the insulation yourself.
- Indoor Comfort Problems
As you take a tour of the home, pay close attention to the indoor comfort levels in each room. There should be no drastic differences between the temperature as you move from room to room. Another thing to look out for is drafts of colder or hotter air, which will be the same as the outdoor air depending on the season. These indoor comfort issues can be caused by a lack of insulation, ductwork issues, and HVAC equipment problems. Fixing these types of problems can be expensive later on, and they need to be fixed before the home is purchased.
Professional HVAC Help
As you can see, many of the potential HVAC problems could be difficult to detect without training, experience, and specialist equipment. An HVAC system is a complex piece of equipment with mechanical, electrical, and electronic components. Understanding heating and cooling systems is a specialized field, and most of us don’t possess those skills. So, if you’re looking at a home that you want to purchase, it makes sense to have an HVAC professional in your corner. They can evaluate the HVAC equipment, the ductwork, and the insulation for you. This will give you a detailed picture of how the system performs, the energy efficiency, and how long the system will last. This will be invaluable during any price negotiations, and it’s the best way to avoid any unexpected problems after the house sale is completed. Hiring a local HVAC specialist to inspect your prospective home is likely to save you a great deal of time, hassle, and money.