Buying a new home? Check the HVAC!
Our service experts at J & A South Park know that buying a new home can be just as exciting as it is overwhelming. You’ve searched all summer and now you’ve finally narrowed it down to the one. Finding the right place for you and your family is hard enough, but when you find your dream home, now what do you look for?
There are obvious questions, such as, how old is the home? What is the condition of the roof? How is the foundation holding up? Is a home warranty included in the deal? These are all questions you’ve probably already gone over in your mind, but the checklist for these answers can be a mile long. And it’s easy to overlook some of the most important parts of buying your new home.
Unfortunately, quite often, the HVAC system doesn’t make that checklist and can sometimes be overlooked. However, HVAC is an extremely important aspect of running your home efficiently. How will you stay warm the first winter in your new home when the furnace goes? These mistakes can cost you hundreds to thousand of extra dollars for repairs or replacement costs, and who has extra cash after the down payment and real estate costs? A licensed home inspection should already be a part of your new home buying process, but making sure you know what HVAC system questions to ask the seller or your realtor is very important!
What Type of HVAC System Does the Home Have?
This seems to be an obvious question, but surely, it’s the most important. Newer homes may have an updated HVAC system, such as scrolling compressor or a condensing furnace, but older homes could be using boilers or heat pumps. A combination of different systems possibly will be the case in your new home, so knowing the basic answer to this question will steer your HVAC system detective work in the proper direction.
Are there any Noticeable Signs of a Problem?
Most homes have creaks and moans, but if the HVAC system in your potential new home is consistently making knocking or banging noises, it could be a sign of an already existing problem. Duct work that has gaps or rust could propose an efficiently problem, and if there are watermarks, rust and signs of decay on the HVAC units, these are absolute concerns to discuss with your home inspector, as they could cause major concerns. If there are system issues that are found during the HVAC inspection, speak with your real estate agent, as they may be able to ask for the sellers’ assistance in rectifying the HVAC issues so you don’t have to potentially pass on purchasing the home.
What is the Age of the System?
Knowing how long the current HVAC system has been installed in the home will give you great insight into how much longer it may be up and running. On average, systems can work efficiently for between 10-15 years. However, as we all know, age is just a number, so starting out in your new home with an older unit doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. Although, it is important to understand that replacing the unit could be in your near future.
Depending on home inspection results, as with the issues of cosmetic damage affecting the efficiency of the system, asking the seller to repair or replace an aged and out- of -date unit is an option to talk over with your realtor.
Is there a History of Maintenance for the HVAC Unit?
Following the above question, knowing the maintenance history will give you a better understanding of how much love has been given to the HVAC system in your potential new home. How often did the system receive service? Was a routine checkup performed each winter and summer, or was the HVAC technician only called when there was an issue? Ask the seller/s for documentation from any of the previous service calls. These questions are important in knowing the HVAC system history, but also provide insight into what maintenance you will have to do if you choose to purchase that home.
Is There a Valid Warranty?
Ask you realtor to provide information on the warranties that may still be applicable to the HVAC units. If the system currently has a valid warranty, it is important to find out if the coverage will continue to extend through the sale of the home. Warranties often end with the transfer of home ownership; however, there are warranty options that could continue for a set time after the sale of the home. If the warranty is the type that will transfer to you, ask for the documentation and familiarize yourself with the terms of coverage. Make sure you know what is and is not covered under the warranty so there are no surprises in the future.
Who Installed the Current HVAC System and What is the Source of Power?
Often when a home has changed hands multiple times, documentation doesn’t always make it down the line of homeowners. However, if you are lucky enough to be buying a home from an organized former owner, having the paper work of who installed the HVAC system allows you to verify that the work has been done by a reputable company. The home inspector should provide a report that the installation has been preformed correctly and that there are no issues like fire risk, gas and CO2 leaks.
Does the HVAC system in your potential new home use gas or electric to source its power? A Geothermal system? Are you going to have to stock up on heating oil for the winter? Source of power determines how you are going to prepare for the costs of running your HVAC unit.
What Are the Average Heating and Cooling Costs?
Knowing in advance what the current owner has been paying for their energy bills will give you great advantage when it comes to that delicate budgeting system you have in place for your new home.
What Is the Efficiency of the System?
Older HVAC units are always going to be less efficient than shinny new units; they simply use more power to service the home. Not only is it just the apparent age that can give insight to the probable capabilities of the HVAC system, but the labels on the unit as well. The presence of the system’s label is a saving grace for homeowners that cannot provide documentation; however, a quick Internet search using the model and brand can give you this information if by chance the label on the unit has been removed.
Is the HVAC System the Proper Size to Service the Home?
The philosophical lesson we have all learned from Goldilocks can be applied here since you will need a HVAC unit that fits your home just right. There are a few aspects that need to be considered when determining what is the proper sized HVAC unit for your new dream home. A system that is too small may run constantly and have a hard time heating or cooling the home, while a unit too large may not run long enough to properly dehumidify the air in the house and could result in an issue with mold and mildew. A professional HVAC contractor at J & A South Park can conduct a heat gain and/or heat loss measurement. They will inspect the size of the duct work and how well the walls, attic, windows and doors are insulated and sealed. All of that coupled with the home’s square footage, will factor into the calculation and determination for the accurate size of HVAC system that should properly be installed into the home.
Are the Doors and Windows Sealed Sufficiently?
An average home loses up to 30% of its heating and cooling energy through air leaks around doors and windows. Relaxation will be a fleeting concept when you are sitting back and watching your money fly out that bay window you love so much, so knowing the effectiveness of the seal on both your windows and doors will help decrease the yearly cost of your energy bill.
Our team of certified HVAC technicians can help you evaluate the overall energy efficiency of your new home and offer money-saving improvement suggestions. In thirty- plus years of service, our experts at J & A South Park’s guidelines for your HVAC investigative procedure will help to make your home buying process that much easier.
Contact J & A South Park Today!
If you do get lucky enough to be the new proud owner of the residence you’ve spent so much time hunting for, ensuring that you are no stranger to the HVAC system in your home can make all the difference when it comes to the comfort level of your first four seasons and eventually all the years to come in your new abode. Battling anything Mother Nature throws your way and keeping your monthly home budgeting in check becomes easier when you are in tune with your HVAC unit. Knowing about your HVAC system in advance and staying current on routine maintenance, cleaning and safety checks will also ensure that you will be warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Contact our technicians at (412) 357-6043 so we can help you with all of this. We can also concentrate on the air quality of your home, so that you and your family can focus on enjoying your new dream home to the fullest, creating memories that will last a lifetime!