How To Inspect HVAC Equipment When House Hunting

When shopping for a new home, it's important to pay attention to the condition of the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. Usually your home inspector will be well versed in the various options of equipment and what to consider for your home's age and climate. The HVAC system is a major investment and one of the most important components of a home, as it affects the comfort and safety of the occupants, as well as the home's energy efficiency (and cost!). Properly maintaining the HVAC system can help to prolong its lifespan and reduce the costs associated with repairs or replacements. Here are a few things to look for when assessing the condition of an HVAC system:

  1. Age: The age of the HVAC system is one of the most important factors to consider. If the system is more than 15 years old, it may be nearing the end of its lifespan and could need to be replaced soon.
  2. Filter: Look for a clean filter, it's an indication that the system has been well maintained. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and reduce the efficiency of the HVAC system. Typically filters need to be changed at least every 3 months, and it should be relatively easy to tell if this has been neglected. A clogged filter will be hard on the equipment. We explain the importance of air filter airflow and how its measured here.
  3. Noise: A well-maintained HVAC system should operate quietly. If you notice any unusual noises when the system is running, it could be a sign of a problem.
  4. Ventilation: Check the ventilation in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces. Make sure that they are free of debris and dust, and that they are properly insulated.
  5. Thermostat: Look for a programmable thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature and schedule settings. This can help you save money on energy costs by reducing your consumption. These days, Smart Thermostats are great upgrades too!
  6. Service Records: Ask the current homeowner if they have records of regular maintenance, this is a good indication that the HVAC system has been properly maintained.

It's important to pay attention to the condition of an HVAC system when shopping for a new home, as it can have a significant impact on the comfort and safety of the occupants, as well as the home's energy efficiency. Neglecting to maintain an HVAC system can lead to costly repairs, and in some cases, a complete replacement which can run into thousands of dollars. Regular maintenance can help prolong the life of the equipment and ensure that it's running efficiently. By taking into account these factors, you can make an informed decision when purchasing your new home and reduce future costs.

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