6 HVAC Repair Detection Tips for Home Buyers

6 HVAC Repair Detection Tips

HVAC Repair: What You Need to Look for When Buying a New Home

If you have the pleasure of purchasing a home that is new to you, the decision might become overwhelming. Location, location, location might be the first thought, along with flooring, finishes, and layout. The structure of the building envelope and building systems (plumbing, electric, and heating/AC) are much less exciting but must not be ignored.

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is a major building system that regulates the temperature and humidity of the home while cleaning and circulating the indoor air. The condition of such a system adds or detracts value from the home and should receive due attention. A general statement might be included in the home inspection. A little research will aid your decision concerning the home of your choice.

HVAC Repair Tip 1: Complete a Visual Inspection

The major components can be found outside (the condenser unit) and inside (in a closet or out-of-the-way place). Indoors, watch for damage, rust, or a dirty appearance, signs of disrepair. Is the burner assembly covered in rust or black soot?

Check the air filter: a dirty, clogged filter might be a sign of neglect. Outdoors, the condenser unit should be free of leave litter or debris, with at least two feet of clearance on each side. The walls of the condenser should be free of grass clipping or a thick layer of dust. These are also signs of neglect.

HVAC Repair Tip 2: The Age of the System

Mechanical systems have a projected period of usefulness; the air conditioner components last around 15 to 20 years, and heater components last 20 years or more. If the inspection does not list the age of the system, determine the manufacture date from the model number plaque. An internet search of the make and model number will reveal the age. If the system has passed half of its useful lifespan, replacement will come quicker than desirable.

HVAC Repair Tip 3: Look for the Label

The system should have a yellow Energy Star label with valuable information for homeowners. The size of the system will be listed. An air conditioner is measured in tons and the furnace system is measured by BTUs. The label will also declare the ratings of components. The current air conditioning rating requirements for new systems begin at SEER 14—the higher, the better. A furnace is rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE); natural gas systems range between 90% and 98.5%, while electric furnaces should be rated at 100%. The size and ratings will help in making a comparison between an existing system and a new replacement system.

HVAC Repair Tip 4: Maintenance Records

Any records of passed maintenance inspections and repairs will be very helpful but might not be readily available. The manufacturer requires annual inspection; a well-maintained system will last longer than a poorly maintained system. Records concerning duct cleaning will also be useful; ideally, ducts should be cleaned every 3 to 5 years.

HVAC Repair Tip 4: Listen to the System

The noise of the HVAC system will be the background noise of your family life. Is the system loud? Are there unusual noises? Humming, clicking, or screeching noises may indicate needed repairs. Light popping from sheet metal ductwork might be normal, but that is for you to determine.

HVAC Repair Tip 5: Read the Home Inspection Carefully

Observe comments concerning insulation and the condition of windows and doors. A fine HVAC system might not be sufficient to provide comfort in a drafty, poorly insulated home. These deficiencies will need to be addressed before comfort can be realized.

HVAC Repair

Some HVAC repair procedures are not an average DIY repair for a homeowner to undertake. Specific training and equipment are required to maintain modern AC systems. To find a local Trane HVAC maintenance technician, visit our Local Dealer search tool.