Why You Should Hire an HVAC Specialist for New Home Inspection
While a home inspection is standard and crucial before closing the deal on a new home, we highly recommend scheduling a separate HVAC inspection from a 3rd party that is completely independent from the buying process.
HVAC systems are probably the most under-inspected part of the home inspection.
Why is a Separate HVAC Inspection Important?
Generally, home inspectors only cover moderate to serious issues in the home. And in many states, there are no licensing requirements for home inspectors. Luckily, Washington is one of the few states that do require training and certification to become a home inspector (ICA). Still, it’s not like home inspectors are expert HVAC technicians.
If you want a more thorough home inspection—and you should—discuss this with your inspector beforehand. Usually, a higher fee is involved, but it’s well worth it.
While it’s a good idea to make sure your home inspector is independent of the seller/realtor (they have vested interests in the sale) and qualified to perform the inspection (for example, ASHI membership), it is no substitute for a separate inspection from a qualified HVAC expert.
Home inspectors simply don’t have the training, tools, or know-how to conduct a thorough heating and cooling inspection.
Many times, they simply turn the unit on to see if it works. In fact, the home inspection form will usually have several disclaimers about their lack of HVAC knowledge, along with recommendations to complete a separate HVAC inspection.
If possible, walk through the home with your home inspector to see exactly what they do. Not only will you get a better understanding of what they look for, you will also be able to ask questions and get additional information that won’t be included on the report.
Don’t forego a professional HVAC inspection from a licensed and professional 3rd party. Your home inspection report and seller’s disclosure are not enough. An HVAC inspection from a certified professional will let you know if the seller has kept up with routine maintenance as well as any underlying issues you should be aware of.
Benefit of Separate HVAC Home Inspection
- Lower purchase price
- Ability to negotiate HVAC replacement
- Lower utility bills
- Fewer repairs
- Reduced chance of HVAC breakdowns
- Safer and more efficiency HVAC operation
What Your Specialized HVAC Technician Will Inspect
When you schedule a professional inspection from a qualified HVAC technician you can expect that they will inspect all of the following:
Generally, round ducts are better than rectangular ducts. Your HVAC inspector will inspect the entire duct system to make sure it has been properly designed and installed. If there are any significant insulation or air leak problems, they will let you know.
R-22 refrigerant, also known as Freon, is being phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency. If your new HVAC system utilizes this old type of refrigerant, you will eventually have to replace your HVAC system or pay for a retrofit. While you can still purchase R022 refrigerant, it will become more expensive to do so and will eventually be discontinued. This is something you definitely want to know when purchasing a new home.
3. HVAC Age and Maintenance
A professional HVAC technician will be able to tell you how old the hVAC system is and whether or not the former owners have kept up on regular maintenance.
If you don’t schedule annual maintenance for your HVAC system, not only will this void any manufacturer’s warranties, but it will also severely reduce the useful lifespan and efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
Don’t forget to ask the seller for any information on prior HVAC repairs and maintenance.
When you schedule a professional HVAC inspection by a qualified technician, you can gain the upper hand during the negotiation process. Use the information you receive from the HVAC inspection to change your offer, add a contingency, or ask the seller to make the necessary repairs or replacements.
4. Insulation and Air Leaks
Consider asking your HVAC or home inspector to conduct a blower door test to see where the home’s greatest energy leaks and energy efficiencies are located.
5. HVAC Efficiency
Learn about the different energy ratings for your heating and cooling systems. SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is used to measure the efficiency of your air conditioning system.
AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating is used for furnace and heating efficiency.
If your new home uses a heat pump for heating, HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) is used.
While your HVAC system may display the energy efficiency rating on the label, it’s often inaccurate. Your HVAC inspector will give you a much more accurate measurement of your HVAC system’s energy efficiency.
6. Locations of Indoor and Outdoor Units
Location, location, location—it also applies to your HVAC system. If you have an outdoor unit too close to bedrooms, it could disrupt sleep. Additionally, you want to make sure that here is no water runoff or gutter leaks above the outdoor unit.
Additionally, if the indoor unit is in the attic, there is more risk for water damage to your ceilings.
7. Air Filtration and Humidification
If you are concerned about indoor air quality, get informed about your new air filtration and humidification system. Some systems are better than others. Your HVAC inspector will be able to tell you all about any existing air filtration, air purification, and humidification systems—and whether or not they are working properly.
Your new home and HVAC system are a huge investment. Make sure you take the proper precautions in your decision-making.
If you have any questions about your HVAC system, don’t hesitate to ask the experts at Pacific Heating & Cooling.
We’re available online and by phone (24/7): (253) 292-3995
We’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and many more since 1984.