HVAC Checklist When Buying a New Home
The typical American home consumes 48% energy towards heating and cooling as per data released by the Department of Energy. This makes it worthwhile to check the HVAC system in any house before purchasing it. Many homeowners forget to pay attention to the HVAC systems in their frenzy to choose the right paint colors and furniture. However, the savvier ones understand the need of a properly functioning air conditioner in Northern California, or anywhere for that matter.
The following steps can ensure that your home remains comfortable without resulting in unnecessarily high bills.
Identify Unit Locations
You need to locate the indoor and outdoor units of the HVAC system. The indoor unit if located in the attic could result in water leaks and expensive ceiling damage. Location of the outdoor condenser unit is vital as well. You may find the noise too troublesome if the outdoor unit is located close to the bedroom windows. You should also ensure to check the gutters on top of the condenser unit. Not having gutters or damaged gutters places the unit at risk of water damage.
Look Over the System
Once you have determined that the indoor and outdoor unit is located in an ideal spot, you need to ask the realtor to switch on the HVAC system. You should look for cracks, dents, water stains, rust, and other signs of damage. You should also test if the system is cold enough. Make sure to keep a lookout for sounds, like clanging or hissing. HVAC units generally don’t work well after 10 – 12 years. You should consider negotiating with the realtor to bring the price of the house down if the system is that old.
Inspect all Maintenance Records
Ask the homeowner for the HVAC system maintenance records. They would have kept the records if the system was being maintained on schedule. Annual preventative maintenance helps in improving efficiency, performance, and longevity of the system. This is also a requirement with most HVAC systems for maintaining manufacturer’s warranty. You will need to deal with more frequent malfunctions and repair bills if the unit has not been maintained properly.
Check the Warranty
The warranty of the HVAC system is another factor you need to consider. Most air conditioners come with a standard warranty of five years from the date it gets installed on a property. Ask the homeowner when the HVAC system was installed. You should also ask about contractor’s warranty. This will give you an inclination of all future repair bills.
Check the Ductwork
Ductwork is an important and costly aspect of HVAC installation. You need to check whether it is still in a good condition. Look for loose connections, gaps, and signs of condensation. These are signs that the ductwork requires repairing. Ducts that look dusty or dirty have not been maintained properly. These would be at a higher risk of falling into disrepair.
Ask About the Refrigerant
Most old HVAC systems make use of a now-banned refrigerant called R-22. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t allow this refrigerant anymore because of its harmful environmental effects. You may need to pay more for replacing the refrigerant if the HVAC unit uses that. Eventually, you will also need to replace the HVAC system since it is illegal to produce R-22 after 2019.