Buying a house is a huge investment, fraught with financial landmines. A cracked foundation, leaky roof or out-of-code electrical can cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
That’s why it’s important to understand the condition of everything in the house before you purchase and it all becomes your responsibility. That goes for the HVAC unit as well. An old, poorly-maintained or inefficient system will need to be replaced soon, so make sure you inspect the system before agreeing on the sale.
Here are six things to look for when inspecting the HVAC:
1. The Age of the System
Furnaces and condensers have expected life spans of about 10-15 years. Ductless systems are generally good for 20-25 years.
When inspecting the HVAC system in a prospective purchase, make note of the dates on the furnace and A/C, and consider those ages when determining a fair value offer. If they’re on their last legs, that’s a hefty bill you will have to bear.
2. The Condition of the Equipment
HVAC units function best when they are inspected and tuned up annually. Ask for a record of repairs and service. If the owner can’t provide one, that is a red flag.
In addition, visually inspect the system. Does it look old and rusted? Is water puddling around it? Does it make an inordinate amount of noise? These are all signals the unit may not be functioning well.
The Department of Energy estimates that a new Energy Star central air conditioner will slash A/C costs by 30 percent compared to a 10-year-old unit.
3. The Location of the System
Take a look at the A/C condenser – the bulky rectangular unit with a fan that sits outside your house. It should be on a flat, stable surface raised off the ground to avoid flooding. Take a look at the fins outer and inner coils in the condenser for signs of animal or weather damage. Then go inside and check the rest of the unit for signs of age. Inspect whether the unit is accessible for maintenance and at a safe distance from surrounding objects such as walls and water heaters.
4. The Condition of the Duct Work
If the system has ducts, they are the conduit for all that flows through the air in the house. Ducts can get clogged with dust, hair and bugs, can experience water damage or spring leaks. Inspect them to determine whether you will need to replace or repair them.
5. Its Energy Efficiency
The system should have a yellow label indicating its level of energy efficiency and the cost to operate it. If the label is gone, assume the worst. To qualify for an Energy Star designation, a gas furnace must have at least an 80 percent AFUE rating, and central air must have at least a 14 SEER rating.
6. The Temperature When You Visit
What does it feel like while you’re visiting? If it’s a little warm in the summer or cool in the winter, the HVAC may not be working properly. If the temperature varies noticeably from one room to another, that’s another red flag.
HVAC doesn’t have to be a deal breaker when buying a house, but you should be aware of its potential cost, especially when determining a fair price.
Since 1996, the Keep It Cool AC and Heating team of expert and qualified technicians has proudly provided superior HVAC services to the Corpus Christi area. Whether it’s A/C repair, air conditioning service, furnace repair, window units, or heat pump installs, they can do it all. Visit them at KeepItCoolACandHeating.com or call (361) 850-7845 to see how they can serve your home comfort needs.