Buying and moving into a new home is great – and probably stressful. There are a lot of big questions and big expenses. It’s one of the most important times for you and your family. You need the new property to be a smart long-term investment. With so many things in mind, the condition of the HVAC system might not be high up on the checklist for a new homeowner. Few parts of a new home though are more vital and, potentially, more expensive.
You’re the prospective or new property owner and the best thing you can do is make sure everything is sound before you sign anything. This may frustrate some service providers or real estate agents, however, it’s still the right thing for you to ask about and check. Buying a home is a huge financial investment and you have every right to know everything about the property. Below are some steps for knowing your new home’s heating and cooling system is what it should be.
Know Where the Units Are
You’d think it would be simple, or even go without saying, but the first job for a prospective property buyer or homeowner should be to see where the HVAC units are. You want to locate and put eyes on everything to do with the system, interior and exterior. It could seem ridiculous, but it would be terrible, yet it’s happened to people, to move into a new home and then find out the HVAC system was failed, missing components or not installed.
You need to check on the units and all components yourself. You can, even without a professional-grade expert and inspection, check off some important aspects on your own.
- Look for any obvious damage to HVAC units or parts.
- Be especially cautious or avoid properties with HVAC units installed in an attic. These often cause leaks or structural damage.
- See that the exterior condenser unit isn’t too close to the windows.
- See if there are gutters or water protection over the HVAC units. You want this. You want as much water as possible taken away from the units.
It should be critical point to know everything is correct with the HVAC system prior to signing or agreeing to a contract. It’s your right to ask questions about anything you need to. If there’s something off, get the right answer before moving forward.
You Can Do Inspection Work, Too
You probably aren’t an expert HVAC or construction pro, but you don’t need to be. You’re capable of doing a thorough visual inspection. At this point, if there are questions or repairs, you know enough to get pros involved if necessary.
Do you see any type of corrosion, rust, water stains, splits, leaks, or damage in the system? You can also use your ears and nose. Were you told the property has a new heat or AC unit, but when you’re there, it looks, sounds or smells far less than 100 percent? You must know exactly what you’re getting with such a major investment and you need to know before your family moves in.
It’s a very good idea, and perfectly allowed, to test the heat and AC in the home while you’re there. It’ll take just a few minutes. Turn on the heat and the cooling and let them run to see how they work and if it’s efficient. Note of any type of hissing or clanging noises that could be signs of larger issues. You don’t want to sign and move in, then a couple of months later need the heat for the first time, turn on the heat for the very first time, then get nothing.
Look at Bills, Records
The current owner or real estate agent might not like it, or act like you’re being annoying, but you should be able to look at a home’s maintenance records for the HVAC. The same goes for other systems or utilities. If you’re told “no” then it may be a bigger yellow or red flag than getting to review them and finding an issue or two.
First, simply see if there have been regular, routine maintenance done on the systems, no matter the age of the home or the age of the HVAC. You want to look at efficiency and the whole cost of the heating, air and energy. As much you can possibly predict, you don’t want to move in, then have the expense of a total HVAC system failure and replacement a few months later.
You should get to see utility bills for the property. High, strange or fluctuating power bills could mean there’s an issue. On the other hand, this could let you know, even if the current HVAC system checks out ok, or if there’s nothing suspect going on, upgrade or renovation work might be smart soon. If you find the bills have been higher recently, it’s probably a signal. You should find the source of the problem before signing.
Inquiring about the Insulation
This is one more thing you might not think about, but it can tell you quite a bit about home. The HVAC system might be fine and efficient, but it’s losing the AC in the summer or the heat in the winter because of poor insulation. You need to know how the new home is insulated because it’s a significant effect on comfort, health and expenses.
Moving into a home is a huge investment. You don’t want to throw cash away attempting to heat poorly-insulated spaces. More knowledge ahead of time can only help you. Even if you can’t or decide not to get the seller to take on this job, it will help you budget for work on insulation down the road.
Remove the Mess
An issue that’s easy to overlook is the space next to and near the exterior HVAC units. Make sure to look and inspect the units and components. It’s good to do this regularly anyway.
You’re looking for growth of grass and weeds, dirt or mulch that’s too close or shifted, trash or debris, even strange things you’d never expect like animal nests, dead animals or storm or weather damage. Growth or garbage can interfere with airflow or the actual mechanics. The effect may range from inefficient to failure.
Change the Filter
As an economical and easy upkeep job, changing out your air filters is simple. You should follow the recommended schedule with filters anyway. Clean filters mean an HVAC system is protected from dirt, dust, allergens, mold and so on. Clean air filters can help save energy and improve the lifespan of the whole system.
At South End Heating and Air, we specialize in HVAC and furnace repair, call us for a free consult. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your heating needs. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.