It can be daunting to buy a house. On one hand, you are thrilled to be on the lookout for a new place to call home. On the other, you want to make sure you are buying a solid piece of property in decent shape that you can live in without a lot of worry. Here are five things you need to check about the heating and cooling system during the home buying process:
#1 Assess the HVAC equipment
When doing a walkthrough of a house, conduct an inspection of the heating and cooling equipment. You need to look for signs of rust, dents, water stains, and cracks. Turn on both the furnace and the air conditioner. Listen for odd sounds like clanging or hissing.
Check the age of the units. Most heating and cooling systems can last about 15 years before needing to be replaced, though some can last for 20 years or more with proper maintenance. Ask to see any maintenance records they have for the units. If the unit is over 15 years, you need to think about how the cost of a replacement would fit into your budget. You can also ask for a professional assessment by our technicians here at Synergy Service.
#2 Inspect the ductwork
Ductwork, like heating and cooling equipment, won’t last forever. Inspect the ducts where possible. If you can access the attic or crawlspace, look for gaps in the ductwork runs. Check each vent to see if the duct is firmly connected.
Look inside the ducts to see if there is an accumulation of dust or if you see signs of mold growth. Dust can be removed, though its buildup is a sign of neglect. Mold, on the other hand, means there is excess moisture present in the duct, which is a sign of potential failure.
#3 Inquire about insulation
It’s important to know how much insulation the house has and when it was installed. If the amount of insulation is inadequate, the house is not energy efficient which means higher energy bills. If the insulation was installed several years ago, it’s likely settled and needs additional insulation added. If the real estate agent doesn’t have the information on hand, ask him or her to pass the question along to the seller.
While walking through the home, take time to assess how comfortable it feels. Do you get drafts as you walk past windows or doors? Do any of the rooms seem hotter or colder than the others? Is there a feeling of mustiness or stale air?
#4 Consider the refrigerant
What type of refrigerant does the HVAC system use? Older systems may use R-22. It was a common refrigerant for many years. However, its use in new heating and cooling systems has been banned by the EPA. Existing units that use R22 can get replacement refrigerant. The problem is it is getting harder to find and more expensive to purchase. It will be completely banned by 2020. You would need to retrofit the existing unit for a new refrigerant or replace the unit entirely.
#5 Weigh the cost of replacement and ongoing energy costs
If you purchase a home that suddenly needs to have the heating and cooling system replaced, do you have the cash reserves to handle it? Buying a home with an old system puts you at risk of this scenario.
Another issue to consider is how much the system costs to run. The homeowner should have no issue showing how much energy bills have been for at least the past two years. Abnormally high energy bills often mean the heating and cooling system is poorly maintained and/or on its last legs.
Each of these tips will help you decide if a house’s heating and cooling system should hold you back from making a purchase. Another option to consider is having an HVAC company give you a professional assessment during the home buying process. If you want to set an appointment, contact Synergy Service today.