Buying a home is among the most important decisions you’ll make, and there are lots of things to consider and ask about. But don’t forget to ask some questions about the home’s HVAC system. If you don’t, you may be paying for a new system or expensive and extensive repairs sooner than you thought.
An old home’s HVAC system may have been perfectly maintained, recently repaired or replaced in the last few years. And a newer home may have a heating and air conditioning system that was never any good to start with. Ask questions, learn the real details about the HVAC system of a home you’re considering buying and adjust your offer accordingly.
To make sure you’re getting what you pay for, here are three smart questions you need to ask:
1. How old is the system?
Make sure you get an honest answer about the age of every system component. Heating and air conditioning equipment is usually rated to last 10 to 15 years. In many cases, a well-maintained system can last much longer than that, but you can’t be sure. If a system or any component of a system is more than a decade old, you can expect repair issues to arise more often than with a new system – and expect to replace it in the near future. While old HVAC equipment doesn’t mean a home should be taken off your list, know what you’re getting into.
2. Is there any remaining warranty? And is it transferable?
Knowing about the HVAC system warranty is part of being an informed home buyer. While many of today’s heating and air conditioning systems come with lifetime warranties, some of them are only good for the original homeowner. As soon as you buy the house, the warranty is void. In some cases, a short transfer window may be available. In still other cases, the HVAC warranty has a set expiration date, no matter who owns the house. As you negotiate the price you’ll pay for the home, consider requesting that an aftermarket warranty be included on an aging HVAC system or simply set your price low enough to take into consideration system repairs or replacement later on.
3. How did the system do on its last evaluation?
Ask to see documentation of the last system evaluation. And find out if the evaluation was done by a reputable company with fully qualified technicians. While some companies don’t put much effort into inspections and evaluations, you’ll at least know what’s been repaired, what’s been recommended for repair and some other useful details. If a service history is available, look for on-time maintenance and service. If a homeowner neglects to service the HVAC system at least twice per year, they probably neglected a lot of other things too.
When you ask these three questions and carefully take their answers into consideration as you buy a used home, you can make sure you don’t overpay and aren’t left without a functional heating and cooling system when you need it the most.
If you’re not sure about the HVAC system in your home or a home you’re considering buying, have it checked by professionals who can see visible issues and look deeply for problems home inspectors, homeowners and real estate agents may miss.
Don’t take chances with your comfort – whether you’re buying a new home or not. Always have your system professionally checked at least twice a year and whenever you notice a change in sound, performance or energy consumption. HVAC professionals can take action to increase performance and will tell you honestly when it’s time for a new system.