Buying a new home can be an exciting venture but we all know there’s a lot to consider before making that offer.
Sure, a great yard, home office, and gourmet kitchen will check some boxes, but what about the home’s HVAC system? Read on for some helpful info on things to look into prior to buying your new home.
Find out how old the HVAC components are when checking out a property. In general, HVAC systems need to be completely replaced every 10 years. Ask your realtor to confirm the age of the equipment when you’re shopping around—they should be able to get that information from the seller quite easily. The homeowner should have kept up a regularly scheduled, seasonal maintenance routine with professional HVAC technicians. Having to buy a new HVAC setup unexpectedly is an unpleasant and expensive endeavor, so make sure that the existing equipment has been properly maintained over the years, and ask for warranty information while you’re at it.
Certain HVAC ducts reduce noise and are more efficient than others. Ask your realtor and home inspector to verify the condition of the existing ducts when shopping around. Leaky ducts can lead to poor air quality and health issues for your family, in addition to being extremely wasteful, so it’s important to know if the ducts have been installed properly and maintained over the years.
Look for cracks, rust, stains, dents, and other types of damage on the HVAC equipment when you’re looking at a property. Strange sounds like buzzing, clicking, and whirring, can indicate that the setup has been neglected, which could mean expensive repairs for you. It’s totally reasonable to have your real estate agent obtain maintenance records for any home’s HVAC equipment. Ongoing HVAC maintenance is a normal expense that all responsible homeowners keep track of and those service records will help you to determine if the gear has been treated properly.
Looking at utility bill records will help you estimate what your monthly cooling and heating expenses will be. Look for any strange spikes in the bills as they may indicate an issue with the HVAC equipment. Inefficient or damaged components can lead to wasted money.
Most homeowners do not maintain their HVAC filters properly. Air filters need to be changed every 30-90 days, depending on factors such as pets, carpeting, local pollen, and landscaping dust. Ask if the filters have been changed regularly; any home inspector should be able to tell if the filters have been neglected.
Location of Units
The placement of HVAC equipment is pretty important when it comes to extending your equipment’s life. Basements present issues such as dust and pests in the units, while attics may bring leaks and cobwebs into the equation. Have your realtor turn on and run all of the HVAC equipment while looking at a home. You’ll want to take a moment room-by-room to listen for noise that might be unbearable once you move in, from a condenser that’s too close to a bedroom window, for example. Gutters overhead are another issue to look out for as clogged gutters can lead to leaks that cause rust on outdoor equipment. Lastly, be sure to check with your agent about local flooding and see how that may affect outdoor units.