Sep 16, 2019
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Why You Need To Check The HVAC System When Buying a New Home

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investment a homeowner contributes to their property. When you’re looking for a new house, this is more than likely one of the factors you’ll look at when you view a home. You need to dig a little deeper than merely confirming if there is an AC system installed. These are the top questions to ask the original homeowner or real estate agent.

Has The System Be Serviced And Maintained?

You should ask for confirmation that the system has been serviced and maintained annually by the installer. For newer systems, this is important because it ensures the warranty remains valid. It will also give you peace of mind the system is running efficiently (which will mean lower energy bills), and you won’t be in for any nasty repair charges when you move in.

If it is out of warranty, and the owner can’t prove it’s on a maintenance plan, you may want to take a closer look at it yourself. Listen out for sounds such as hissing, clanging, or loud humming that could indicate there are issues. Also, look for signs of water stains, rust, dents, or other damage on the system. Then, check the ductwork. Look for loose connections, gaps, or condensation along the ductwork. If they are very dusty, it’s unlikely they have been adequately maintained.

Other Things To Look Out For:

  • Some rooms are colder than others. An aircon should provide a consistent air temperature at the setting that has been chosen. When one or more rooms become cold zones, and others don’t seem to get any cool air at all, there are likely issues that mean it will need to be replaced.
  • There is very little air coming out. A decreased airflow is another sign that it is not working optimally.
  • There are strange smells. Foul odours can mean that the insulation is become damaged or the ductwork is mouldy.
  • The unit is leaking. The air conditioning unit should stay dry even when it’s in use. There could be a refrigerant leak.
  • It keeps turning on and off. This is called short cycling. It means the system is struggling to maintain a set temperature throughout the home.

How Old Is The System?

If you’re purchasing an older home, there may be a need to upgrade the HVAC system. Ideally, you want to weigh the value of the house against the costs of upgrading the system to see if it makes financial sense for you.

If the unit is more than a decade old you should consider upgrading it, and factor this into the offer you make on the property. One reason for this is that older systems will use the outdated form of refrigerant called R-22. This substance is banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the system still uses it, you will find it challenging to buy to refill, and if you do so, it will be costly. Your options are to replace the system or retrofit your system to use a safer type of refrigerant.

Some of the options for a new system they may propose, based on your family and lifestyle, are as follows:

Split-System Air Conditioner

These are made up out of an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. They are connected by pipes that contain refrigerant gas. They are suitable for a room or open-plan area up to about 60 square meters.

Multi-Split Air Conditioner

These are very similar to a split-system, but they come with one outdoor unit connected to two or more indoor units. They are suitable for two or three rooms that are quite close together (particularly when separate split-systems or a ducted system can’t be fitted).

Ducted Air Conditioners

These are made up of a central unit that is connected by air ducts to air outlets and sensors in individual rooms. They are very efficient when you want to cool and heat the whole house.

Wall/Window Air Conditioner

This is a single box unit that can be installed in a window or through an external wall. They are suitable for rooms with open-plan areas of up to 50 square meters. They are also affordable.

Does the home have insulation?

Ask the owner of the house if there is any insulation in the home and when they installed it. Insulation can settle over time and if it isn’t topped up leaks and drafts can set in. When a room is drafty, it is more challenging to keep cool or heat in an even manner. This can put heavy strain on the HVAC system, causing excessive energy bills.

If you’re not sure of the status of the HVAC system in your potential new home, ask a service technician to do an inspection. They could also provide you with a repair or new installation quote, so you know what extra costs you need to budget for if you end up buying the property.

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