This blog was contributed by Myles Kleeman, eComfort.com.
If you're like most people, a home represents the most important purchase you will make in your life. It is not only your largest investment, it's also shelter. It is the place where you build your life. The significance of a home cannot be overstated, but it can be overlooked. Prospective homebuyers love to picture themselves and their things in a new home, but if you're only asking about the fixtures and cabinets, you're doing yourself a tremendous disservice. A home's HVAC system is responsible for keeping you and your family comfortable safely and efficiently. It can be easy to overlook an HVAC system, as the components are typically tucked beneath floors and behind closed doors, but there are some must-ask questions for every homebuyer.
What is the age of the system?
Make sure you get the age of every component. HVAC equipment is generally good for 10-15 years. There are plenty of cases where it functions flawlessly for decades, but after 10 years, you should expect repair or replacement issues to arise more frequently. Old equipment doesn't mean that you should stay away from the home, just that you should factor potential repair or replacement costs into your final offer.
What is the warranty situation?
Like the previous question, this one is not designed to disqualify a home, but rather to allow you to make the most informed decision possible. Many modern HVAC systems come with shiny lifetime warranties that are invalid the second a new homeowner signs the contract. Some companies offer warranties with a short transfer window, allowing a homeowner to replace their system in preparation to sell their home. Others simply include a warranty expiration date in the event that the home is sold. It is not uncommon for buyers to request that an aftermarket warranty be included with their purchase, though some prefer to just negotiate on the final price and handle any warranties or replacements on their own.
May I see the evaluation from the most recent HVAC inspection?
Don't settle for a general home inspector's word that the system is up-to-snuff. General inspections cover a lot of ground and they are an invaluable tool, but when it comes to HVAC they're frequently little more than a spot check. If there isn't a visible safety issue, the home will get a pass. Asking for the most recent HVAC system inspection lets you learn about any pre-existing problems, and it may give you insight into how past problems were handled. The date of the last inspection is also critical information. Heating and cooling systems should be inspected, separately, once a year before the winter and summer respectively. If the date of the last inspection doesn't line up with the timeframe, you have to wonder what other things the current homeowner neglected.
If you don't do your due HVAC diligence before purchasing, you could end up investing a lot of money into an issue that could've been caught pre-purchase. These questions aren't designed to scare you away from purchasing a home, but rather to make sure that your offer takes all relevant HVAC issues into account. A home that needs a new system next year is a lot different than a home that won't need to replace for another five or six years. With proper planning and the right questions, you can easily identify potential HVAC issues and adjust your expectations, and offer, accordingly.
Myles Kleeman is a Brand Specialist and writer at eComfort.com, one of the leading online retailers of HVAC and plumbing equipment. If you have any questions about your current or future HVAC system, give our experts a call at 866-554-HEAT or email us at info@eComfort.com and bring some Unmatched Expertise to your home improvement project.