Getting a new home is exciting. However, it can be easy to get caught up in anticipation of finding your dream home and forget about the tiny details. Don’t let the adrenaline of finding your future home cause you to forget to check out the heating and cooling system!
The heating and cooling system is one of the essential parts of any home, and if it isn’t in top shape, it can cause a lot of damage to your house and your utility bill. Here are some tips on assessing your new home’s heating and cooling situation.
Check the Age of the HVAC System
Checking the age of the HVAC system is one of the first things you should do when looking at a new home. You can find this information on the data plate affixed to each appliance. The life expectancy of an HVAC system is about 15 years on average.
A furnace that is more than that will be nearing the end of its life cycle and will need replacement, so budget to buy a new one in the next few years. A new model could mean more efficiency and fewer repairs going forward.
Inspect the Condition of the Ductwork
While there are different heating and cooling systems, they all have ductwork in common. A crucial thing you want to do is check the condition of this ductwork. How old are the ducts? Are they rusty or damaged in any way? Ducts that have been in place for decades tend to lose their seal over time and start leaking.
Leaks make them less efficient and increase your utility bills by forcing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder than necessary. It also affects your home’s temperature because some of the hot or cool air they’re supposed to distribute gets lost on its way through the ducts.
Ask About Maintenance Records of the System
A new home doesn’t necessarily mean a well-maintained system. Ask for maintenance records; they can be hard to come by, but they’re worth asking for. Get information on how often the former owner replaced the filters. Also, ask if they’ve ever had problems with their heating or cooling systems in the past years.
Consider having a professional inspect the systems. It will cost a small amount of money, but it’s one way to feel confident in your purchase. Ask for a written report that includes efficiency ratings and recommendations for improvements. A qualified technician can also assess the size of your home and determine whether the current system is appropriate for it.
If your new home has had regular maintenance, its HVAC systems are probably in decent shape. Conversely, if you find out that there have been problems with it in the past, you may want to get a lower offer on the house or get it repaired before moving in.
Understand the Type of System in the House
Make sure you know what the system does. It also includes making sure the system is of proper size and that it’s big enough to handle your family’s needs. There are three types of heating and cooling systems that are common in residential properties:
Forced-air systems – These use ducts and vents to move air throughout a home. Forced-air systems also have air filters that help clean indoor air. Heating comes from a furnace fueled with natural gas or oil; cooling comes from air conditioning.
Hot water systems – Hot water systems use hot water pipes to heat a home and cold-water pipes to cool it down. A boiler or heat pump heats hot water; cooling is accomplished with an air conditioner or evaporative cooler.
Radiant heat systems – These systems use electricity to heat coils in walls, floors, or ceilings. Radiant systems don’t have ventilation systems or ducts; heating comes from hot wires embedded in the concrete or other material, and cooling comes from an air conditioner.
Different system models function differently. Houses built since the mid-1990s typically use central air conditioning, which cools the whole house at once. Other homes have window or wall units or, if they have central systems, they may not use ducts. You can convert these systems to central air; the bad news is that it might require a major renovation, especially if there aren’t ducts in place.
Check the Air Vents
There should be air vents in each room of your home. Vents allows cool and warm air to flow from your heating and cooling system into the rooms as needed. The first thing you should do is make sure all the air vents are open and that there isn’t any furniture blocking them. If they are blocked, it will affect how well your HVAC system works. Make sure you get this addressed as early as possible.
Also, make sure that the vents are not blowing air directly onto you when you sit. That can make a room feel colder than it is. You should also check if any vents are out of place or damaged. It’s very easy for an inexperienced homeowner to knock over or break an air vent without realizing it.
Ask About Insulation
Consistent temperatures are critical, but so is energy efficiency. Check the rafters, windows, and doorways. These are all places where heat can enter or exit your home, causing drafts and poor heating or cooling. Additionally, you can tell if a house has good insulation by looking in the attic or basement. Fiberglass batting is a common type of insulation found in attics. You should be able to see some pink or white material between the joists of your ceiling.
If you do not see any insulation, that may mean the house is poorly insulated. It could lead to cold rooms in winter or hot rooms in summer. Additionally, you will lose a lot of energy trying to heat or cool your home as needed.
Check the Energy Efficiency of Your System
Check the efficiency label on each appliance and system to see their respective efficiencies. Many devices have an Energy Star rating on them now as well, so keep an eye out for this logo. You can check the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating. SEER ratings measure the seasonal efficiency of air conditioners and heat pumps. A higher SEER rating means greater efficiency. In addition to using less energy to produce the same amount of cooling, an energy-efficient model will typically last longer than less-efficient units.
As you can see, there are several things to consider when looking into your new home’s heating and cooling system. However, the most important thing is finding out if the heating and cooling system will meet your needs. The best way to be sure that the heating and cooling system in your new home will be sufficient is to get an energy assessment from a licensed HVAC contractor.
Call our technicians at Triple A Air Conditioning & Heating for systems inspections. We also offer emergency HVAC services, heater installation, AC repair and maintenance, and winter maintenance services. We serve residents of Flower Mound, TX and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule a service.