5 Things To Check On The HVAC System When Buying A New Home

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Buying a house is an exciting but intimidating process. You have to make sure that the property you are interested in is in good condition. This way, you aren’t facing any unexpected problems later, which is stressful and a hassle. One thing to consider is the condition of the HVAC system. This article discusses what to keep an eye out for, especially if you are buying a house with an old HVAC.

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5 Things To Check On The HVAC System When Buying A New Home

The following are five aspects to check about the HVAC system when buying a home:

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1. Assess The HVAC Equipment

old air conditioner system compressor

During a house walkthrough, inspect the heating and cooling equipment. Check for any signs of cracks, dents, water stains, and rust. Switch on the air conditioning system and the furnace. Listen for odd noises like hissing and clanging. 

Check the unit’s age. The service life of most HVAC systems is around 15 years before they need to be replaced. Some units, however, can last for two decades or more with correct maintenance. Ask to see the maintenance records for the units. If the unit is over 15 years, factor replacement costs into your budget. You can also ask the technicians from Townsend Energy to assess the unit professionally.

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2. Inspect The HVAC Ductwork

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Like the HVAC unit, ducts do not last forever. Check the ducts if you are able. If you can access a crawl space or the attic, check for gaps in the ductwork runs. Inspect every vent to ensure the duct is firmly linked.

Check inside the ducts for any dust buildup or signs of mold growth. Dust can be removed, but its accumulation indicates neglect. On the other hand, mold means the duct has excess moisture, which can point to potential system failure.

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3. Inquire About Insulation

Learning how much insulation the house has and its installation date is crucial. Inadequate insulation means the home isn’t energy efficient and will have higher energy costs. If the insulation was installed some years ago, it has possibly settled and requires additional insulation. If the realtor doesn’t know, ask them to question the seller.

Assess how comfortable the home feels as you walk through it. Do you feel drafts while walking past doors or windows? Do some rooms feel hotter or colder than others? Does the air smell musty or stale?

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4. Consider The Refrigerant

air conditioner refrigerant

Check the refrigerant type the HVAC system uses. Older units may use R-22, which was commonly used for many years. However, the EPA has banned its use in new HVAC systems. Existing systems that use R-22 can have their refrigerant replaced. However, it is becoming harder to find and costlier to buy. It was banned entirely in 2020. You need to retrofit the existing unit so it can use new refrigerant or replace the whole system.

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5. Weigh The HVAC Replacement & Ongoing Energy Costs

Do you have the cash reserved to buy a replacement heating and cooling system if you buy a home that suddenly needs it? Purchasing a home with an old system means that you’re at risk of facing this situation.

You should also consider the system’s operating cost. Sellers shouldn’t have a problem sharing their energy bills for the past two years. If the energy bills are abnormally high, it typically translates into a poorly maintained HVAC system or a unit that is on its last legs.

These tips will help you decide if an HVAC replacement is coming down the pipeline shortly after closing. You should also consider hiring an HVAC technician to assess the unit professionally during home-buying. Call Townsend Energy to set an appointment today.

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Additional Items To Consider

Keep reading to learn about the additional items to inspect around the home linked to the HVAC system.

Room to Room

couple with realtor depicting home comfort of potential house

Be wary of the moisture level and temperature while you move from one room to another. Determine if there are significant changes in certain rooms or areas. Uneven home temperatures can be commonly caused by blocked or leaky ductwork, an incorrectly sized HVAC unit, poor insulation, clogged vents, or an aging HVAC unit.

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Heating & Cooling Zoning

Are there multiple heating and cooling zones in the home? If there aren’t, can the current system handle zoning if you choose to set it up in the future? Ask the realtor or the current owner to find out how to answer your zoning questions.

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HVAC Vent Flow

image of hvac air vent

Determine where the intake and outflow vents are located. Does constant air flow through these vents? Is there a change in the force of air from vent to vent or room to room? Several usual causes of low airflow through some or all the vents are dirty or blocked air filters, ductwork leaks, dirty ducts, a restrictive HVAC filter, or vents that are too small or too big.

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HVAC Unit Age

As mentioned above, find out how old the HVAC unit is. You should also ask when it was installed in the home. Research the specific model to explore the typical lifespan for this particular system. Sometimes, the HVAC unit may look old, but it still may have several years before a replacement is required. Air conditioners usually have a 15-year lifespan. On the other hand, on average, furnaces should be replaced when they’re 15 to 20 years old.

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History of HVAC Maintenance

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Ask the current homeowner to give you as much information on the unit’s repair and maintenance history. This will help you determine how well the system has been maintained. Older HVAC units that did not receive proper maintenance tend to break down more often. They also typically require replacement earlier than units that receive proper care and maintenance.

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Warranties and Service Plans

Does the HVAC system have any active warranties or service plans? More importantly, can they be transferred to you, or can you use them as long as they’re in place? Inquire about this crucial information to the current homeowner. Does your realtor offer a home warranty to cover the HVAC system and other appliances in case they break down?

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HVAC Equipment Manuals

Make sure that you collect any and all manuals of HVAC machinery present in the home. If no physical manuals are available, get the serial or model numbers, as most manuals can be digitally downloaded online. Manuals can provide helpful advice in case of an emergency.

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Thermostats & Detectors

The inspection includes checking the thermostats and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. However, learning their capability, model, and age is recommended. It can help you decide whether to replace them now or wait until their lifespan ends.

Physical Heating & Air Conditioning Unit Inspection

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Pay attention to noises, dust, or rust. The tiniest noise and smallest speck can indicate a developing issue with your HVAC unit. Hiring an HVAC professional for a full unit inspection is best if you are seriously considering purchasing the home.

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Is the system worth keeping, or will you need a complete replacement shortly after purchasing your home? Getting a brand-new HVAC system is not a minor expense, so you may want to negotiate it into the price of the house or set aside some money to get a replacement system.

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