Spring is practically here, and chances are if you’re planning to buy a new home this year you will soon start looking; however when you’re looking for your dream home, don’t forget to dream with your eyes opened. Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial investments you will make in your lifetime, and there are many things you can do before you purchase a home to make sure your financial investment doesn’t suddenly become bigger than you anticipated; one of the most important things you can do is to get adequate information about your potential home’s HVAC system.
Top 5 questions you should always ask about a home’s HVAC system
- How old is the system? – While proper upkeep can extend the life of HVAC systems and units, most have a lifespan of 10-15 years and can cost thousands of dollars to replace.
- What type of system/units does the house have? – Does the home have central air and forced heat? Are there separate air conditioning and heating units? Each system/unit may require different upkeep and come with different expenses.
- May I see documentation from the last time this was serviced? – You want to know when the system or units were last serviced as well as how regular service has been (for example, did the seller get the unit serviced just before putting the home on the market? Or has the seller engaged in regular upkeep and maintenance of the units?). You also want to know if the technician noticed any problems or potential problems, and whether or not these problems have been resolved.
- What are your average monthly heating/cooling costs? – Utility costs are an important monthly expense to consider. In addition to telling you whether or not you can afford these costs, the monthly heating and cooling bill may be a clue to other home issues (i.e. insulation, system issues, etc.).
- Is there a warranty that transfers when ownership transfers? – You want to know if there is a warranty on your system, but also the stipulations of the warranty. Will the warranty transfer to a new owner? What does the warranty cover? If you are told there is a warranty, be sure to ask for documentation.
Other HVAC and HVAC-related issues to consider
- Does the system work? – This may seem like a very simple question, but we often assume it works without trying it out. Don’t be afraid to turn on the unit and walk around the house so you can feel the difference in temperature and air or heat flow. Also, take note of any odd noises or smells you experience once the unit is turned on.
- Does the unit look like it’s in good shape? – While this won’t tell the whole story about how the unit is functioning, you should be on the lookout for signs of water marks, rust, or decay.
- Is the system/unit energy efficient? – Is the system/unit helping you maximize your heating and cooling capabilities while minimizing your costs and its environmental impact? Energy efficient HVAC systems may results in tax rebates or credits you can claim.
- How big are the heating and cooling units? – You don’t want something that’s too big or too small for your home because neither situation will be financially beneficial to you.
- How well insulated is the home? – While insulation isn’t part of your HVAC system, it potentially impacts your HVAC use. If there are areas of exposed drywall, look for insulation. Ask about whether or not certain rooms are cold despite having the heat on or are hot despite having the air on.
- Are the windows and doors properly sealed? – Check to make sure no air can leak in around windows and doors. This may also lead you to question how old the windows are in the house. Older windows with older seals may let in more air than newer windows.
Don’t forget that your realtor and a home inspector are your best friends during the home-buying process. If you have questions about the HVAC system, aren’t sure of the answers to questions, or want something checked out for you, tell them and they will help you out.
Do you have any other HVAC tips for homebuyers to consider? If so, comment below!