Why and How You Should Check the HVAC System Before Purchasing a Home

As exciting as looking at new homes to purchase can be, it’s important not to overlook steps in your deciding process. And one step that is often forgotten is the HVAC system. You don’t want to have to buy an entirely new HVAC system right after making a house down payment. This is why you need to know what questions to ask and what the inspection should involve to ensure that the HVAC system in your new home is working properly, or at least know enough about what’s wrong to factor in the price of  HVAC repairs or a new HVAC. (You should also save the following information so you can access it easily during your home search.)

First, you need to do an inspection of the potential home’s HVAC system and keep an eye out for any cracks, water stains, rust, dents, and any other signs of damage on the HVAC gear itself. Find out what brand the HVAC equipment is, as well as its efficiency rating and fuel type. If possible, ask the homeowners/sellers for HVAC maintenance records, which they shouldn’t have an issue getting if they were consistent with their yearly maintenance and repair appointments. Also, ask if there is an HVAC maintenance agreement available that the homeowner/seller can transfer to you if you purchase the home.

If the HVAC system is 10 to 15 years old, it’s probably due for an upgrade. If the home you’re viewing has a system that old, use that to get a deal on the home’s selling price. It will give you some extra funds to put towards scheduling an HVAC installation. Also, find out if the equipment is still under warranty. If not, you should also insist that the homeowner/seller give you a home warranty that will address any unexpected HVAC issues within your first year of living there.

You also need to inspect all of the home’s ductwork in addition to the HVAC unit. Search for loose connections, gaps, and signs of condensation. If the ductwork looks rather dusty, it’s a sign that the homeowner/seller hasn’t lived up to their part of the maintenance deal and you’ll probably have to get an HVAC upgrade after you move in.

If the homeowner/seller has added things like an air purifier or a dehumidifier for the entire home, then the indoor air quality will be great. However, if the air quality is poor, that means if you move in you’ll have to spend money (and some time) on those HVAC additions yourself, along with some duct cleaning to improve airflow.

Insulation is a factor in how the HVAC system works as well. Ask the homeowner/seller about the kind of insulation the home has and when that insulation was added to the home. Leaks or drafts can occur when newer insulation isn’t added, as insulation settles over time. Those leaks and drafts can make it harder to evenly heat or cool the home—meaning the HVAC system is working harder—resulting in a rise in the energy bill.

Also, be aware of which refrigerant the HVAC system uses. Older systems might use a refrigerant known as R-22, which has been banned by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). If the potential home’s HVAC system does use this refrigerant, you can still use it. However, keep in mind it might be hard to find a consistent supply of R-22; producers are phasing it out because it will be against the law to produce it by 2020. At some point, it will be necessary to replace or retrofit that older HVAC system so that a safer, legal kind of refrigerant can be used.

For more information on HVAC systems inspections, or to schedule an inspection or repair, contact Comfort Xpress. We’re an Oklahoma heating and cooling contractor operating in the Oklahoma City area. We can ensure that your current or future HVAC system is in working order.