Are you planning to buy a home? Congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. Before dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, though, there’s something you should be wary of: your HVAC inspection. No one wants an HVAC system that falls short. To ensure you’re making the right choice for your family, we’ve identified four common HVAC problems to look out for during home inspection.
Your HVAC, or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, is essential to maintaining the air temperature and humidity in your home. When working as expected, your unit will create balance and comfort. If there’s an issue, though, you could end up wasting unnecessary time and money.
Common home inspection findings
1. Inconsistent heating and cooling
Have you ever been in a home where some of the rooms are comfortable, yet others are just darn-right stifling (or freezing in the winter)? Not only is it frustrating, but it can lead you to spend more energy and money as you try to troubleshoot the issue. If your new home has uneven heating, it may be one of a few things:
- Drafts. It’s not uncommon for an older home to be drafty. If this is the case, you may want to get an energy audit to see where air is leaving your home. A trained HVAC expert can help you properly insulate the home.
- Dirty filters. A clogged air filter is one of the most common (and avoidable) HVAC issues. A dirty filter will limit airflow and cause pressure to build up in the furnace. By simply changing your air filter, you can increase your heat/air output and efficiency.
- Unattended coils. Over time, your home’s HVAC evaporator coil and condenser coil can become filled with dust, dirt and other debris. If they’re left alone, they can lead to airflow trouble.
2. Furnace faults
Furnace inspections are crucial in order to guarantee your home’s heating is working safely and efficiently. Here’s what you (and your inspector) should be on the lookout for:
- Visible leaks. There could be a lot of things causing your furnace to leak -- such as a faulty humidifier or dehumidifier, air conditioner or nearby plumbing. It can also be a refrigerant leak, which you should never address on your own. It’s best to leave leak diagnosis and solutions to the trained professionals.
- Shaky noises. More times than not, that vibrating sound coming from your furnace is a loose part or two within the unit (such as a circulation fan, frame or access panel). If an inspector finds this, he or she may recommend you get your furnace serviced and screws and bolts secured.
- Heat exchanger concerns. The heat exchanger is the part of a furnace that separates the combustion process from the air your family breathes in. If this isn’t working properly, you could leave your loved ones susceptible to deadly gases such as carbon monoxide. To avoid this health risk, make sure you’re getting a thorough furnace inspection.
3. Poor equipment
To help you understand the current state of your HVAC equipment, it’s crucial that you understand what may cause it to fail. Here are some signs of poor equipment:
- It’s old. Your HVAC equipment age can give you a pretty good idea of how well it’s going to perform in the near future. In general, HVAC units last 10 to 15 years. If it’s close to that range, an inspector should let you know so you can factor that future purchase into your home buying plan. Older units commonly use Freon, a refrigerant that’s becoming harder to find -- so it’s important to also keep those prices in mind.
- Unmaintained. Age isn’t the only thing to consider when estimating the longevity of a system. Regular maintenance checks over the years have a major impact on your system’s lifetime and ensure it’s working at peak capacity. If the previous owners haven't serviced it, the trained HVAC technician will be able to tell.
- Improper installation. Proper installation is crucial not only for efficient operation, but for you and your family’s safety (think gas leaks, CO issues or fire hazards). That’s why it’s so important that you make sure the inspector is checking for correct ventilation, power source connection and ductwork.
Ventilation is critical to both your comfort and your safety. When checking a home’s ventilation, be on the lookout for:
- Mold from over sealing. Sometimes, homeowners will seal their attics to save energy. If done improperly or excessively, though, you could end up with serious problems. Without adequate ventilation, homes can produce an excessive amount of moisture. When paired with heat, this results in mold.
- Bathroom-to-attic vents. Years ago, housing codes didn’t regulate ventilation. It’s a common HVAC issue to find bathrooms venting to the attic (rather than the roof). When the most air from the bathroom flows to the attic, it’ll do more than turn to mold -- it’ll damage the wood and other structural elements.
- Ventilation style. There are various types of options for interior home ventilation. You have a lot to worry about -- make sure you’re working with your HVAC expert to determine if the one you have best suits your home, lifestyle and climate.
HVAC inspections shouldn’t be a surprise
Your home inspector is looking at all areas of your home, but may not be paying enough attention to the capability or efficiency of your HVAC system. Common home inspection findings could include large HVAC issues, but some of the smaller ones that go unnoticed can cause significant damage in the near future. Before settling into your new home, work with the team at John C. Flood to resolve these common HVAC problems. Call the plumbing, electricity and HVAC experts at John C. Flood at (703) 783-0247 or schedule service online.