HVAC Questions to Ask When Buying a Home

When you’re in the market for a home, you undoubtedly have a wish list: a kitchen with a centre island, a deck and an ensuite with a soaker tub, perhaps. As you look through the listings, it’s easy to ascertain whether the homes on offer will check those boxes on your list. Some of these features may be make-or-break items, and others are simply nice to have.

What’s generally missing from that wish list is a reliable, modern HVAC system that suits the home where it is situated. Many people consider HVAC as a given or an afterthought, when HVAC questions actually should be top of mind when buying a home that will provide you with year-round comfort.

So, before you make an offer that you can’t retract, here are some questions you should be asking the current homeowner about the HVAC system:

What type of HVAC system does the home have?

This may sound obvious, but it’s important. Many homes used a forced air furnace for heating and a central air conditioner for cooling, but older homes may not have central air, and some homes use boilers or heat pumps.

There are also a number of advanced HVAC features that you might find in new homes, such as radiant heating or a condensing furnace. In addition, some homes have combined heating/cooling systems, while they are separate in others.

Knowing the type of system in the home gives you information about the maintenance it may require. Such knowledge can help you determine how your budget would be affected.

What powers the HVAC system?

You’ll need to know what fuels your system, whether it’s electricity, heating oil, gas or some other option. Once you have that information, you can estimate what it will cost to run the HVAC system. (You can also request monthly bills or ask about the average monthly cost for running the system.) Of course, heating and cooling habits and preferences vary, but it’s worth getting a general sense of the expenses that await you.

How old is the system?

Typically, HVAC systems last 10 to 15 years before they need replacing. If the system is older, you may need to factor the purchase of a new system into your budget – usually thousands of dollars -- or put some money aside for parts and repairs. You also have the option of asking the owner to replace the system as a condition of sale.

The age of the system also affects its energy efficiency. Older systems tend to use more energy, so the costs increase. If the system uses Freon as a refrigerant, be aware that it is being phased out of use and will soon be hard to find. There are always changes being made in HVAC technology and new systems are generally more efficient.

If no one can tell you the age of the system, you’ll usually find the manufacturing date printed on a plate or a label somewhere on the unit.

What is the maintenance history of the system?

Regular maintenance is important in keeping an HVAC system running smoothly and efficiently. A “well-oiled machine,” so to speak, is less costly to run and the HVAC system may outlast its usual lifespan.

As the owner for the maintenance records for the system and check to see if it is checked routinely twice a year or if an HVAC professional is only called when a problem arises. Generally, it is advisable to have a system checkup prior to the summer season (for air-conditioning) and before winter comes (for heating). Looking at the records can indicate whether there is a pattern of problems that should be handled or can predict future issues.

What is the insulation like?

You can have the best HVAC system in the world, but if the insulation is poor, your house won’t stay warm in winter and cool in summer. Pay special attention to the basement and the attic.

Is the system still under warranty?

If the HVAC system is fairly new, it may still be under warranty. Determine whether the warranty remains in place once the home changes hands.

You may want to consider having a home inspection so that a professional can examine the HVAC system and the home’s other mechanical components. If you have concerns, don’t hesitate to call upon your HVAC professional.


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© Next Day Home Services Inc. 2020Privacy PolicyTELEPHONE: 604.897.3411ADDRESS: 201-19049 95a Avenue, Surrey,BC V4N 4P3

© Next Day Home Services Inc. 2020Privacy PolicyTELEPHONE: 604.897.3411ADDRESS: 201-19049 95a Avenue, Surrey,BC V4N 4P3