Before You Buy a House : Get to Know Your HVAC System

When you start house hunting, you have a long list of wants and needs. Is the home in the right neighborhood? Does it have a nice yard? Are the kitchen appliances upgraded?

These are all things you can readily see and check off your list, but don’t forget to consider the HVAC system. Get to know the ins and outs of the heating and cooling equipment before you sign on the dotted line. Here are our top tips for assessing a home’s HVAC system and ensuring it won’t break down right after you move in.

Questions to Ask the Seller

Whether you’re buying a brand new, moderately new, or older home, ask the seller these questions:

  • What type of HVAC equipment is installed and how old is it? Is it still under warranty?
  • What is the HVAC equipment’s brand, efficiency rating, and fuel type?
  • Do you have a copy of maintenance and repair records?
  • Do you have an HVAC maintenance agreement you can transfer to me if I buy the house?
  • Is a programmable thermostat installed?

Deal Breakers

Unless you specifically have money set aside to pay for HVAC upgrades, the last thing you want is to foot the bill for repairs and replacements right after making a down payment. Regardless of the home’s age or the condition of the HVAC equipment, you should insist that the seller provide a home warranty to cover unforeseen issues over the next year.

If you notice any problems with the HVAC system layout or the equipment itself as you tour the home, bring up your concerns with the seller. If they’re unwilling to compromise, the following issues could be deal breakers:

  • Old or problematic HVAC equipment: The average HVAC system lifespan is about 15 years. Ask the seller to repair or replace the HVAC system if it’s over a decade years old, appears damaged, or suffers from problematic performance. If they don’t want to make the upgrade themselves, ask for an allowance or discounted selling price so you can afford to install new equipment once the house is yours.
  • Leaky or poorly laid out HVAC system duct plan: Leaky ductwork wastes precious heated and cooled air while meandering duct runs force HVAC equipment to work harder. Check whether the ductwork has any loose connections, visible gaps, torn sections, or other problems. You have the right to demand repairs for these problems before you buy.
  • Lack of insulation: While it’s difficult to check insulation levels in the walls without professional equipment, you can peek into the attic as you tour the home. You’re looking for a thick blanket of insulation covering the attic floor. Any ductwork running through the space should also be insulated. Request that the seller remedy any lacking insulation or lower the asking price so you can pay for it yourself.
  • Comfort problems: As you take in the different features of each room, pay attention to the overall comfort level as you move from room to room. If you notice temperature differences, stuffiness, or drafts, there could be something wrong with the HVAC equipment, ductwork, or insulation levels. Don’t overlook comfort problems because they could be expensive to fix later on!

Contact Aire Serv® for More Help

Hiring a technician to inspect the HVAC system, ductwork, and insulation in a home you’re serious about buying helps you make a fully informed decision. Aire Serv can provide an unbiased assessment so you know which requests to make of the seller before you decide whether to buy the house. Contact us today for more tips to schedule an HVAC inspection.