Homeowner Rookie Mistakes: Central A/C System Inspection

Buying a new home can be an exciting time. Unfortunately it can also be a time when all eager, trusting new homeowners can get into a bad situation all too easily. Before any house is purchased, it is essential that a thorough home inspection be done of all the major appliances, structure; etc. This will ensure that the home is worth the cost and there are no unseen dangers or potential problems.

The home inspector that does the work needs to be professional and trusted. Many times, the realty company will be able to recommend an reputable inspector, however, it’s a better idea to find your own independent inspector to avoid a potential conflict of interest. The inspector will do a walk through with the potential buyers and should also provide a written and electronic copy of all of the findings, as well as pictures documenting any issues with the house.

One of the major areas of concern with any home would be the central air conditioning system and related ductwork. If there are any problems with the air conditioner, the new homeowners may find themselves with costly repair or replacement costs.

The replacement cost of a central air conditioner is anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000 dollars, and skyrockets over $10,000 if the ductwork and registers need to be replaced as well. All this hassle can be avoided just by asking your realtor the right questions regarding the A/C system in the house your interested in – before you buy.

Ask About the A/C SEER Rating

Before the inspection is done, it is often advisable to inquire about the efficiency rating and brand of the A/C system. The seller should have recently had the air conditioner checked and the efficiency of the system should be clearly visible. Over time, technological advances have improved the energy efficiency of appliances, making older units more costly to run than their newer counterparts. An air conditioner’s energy efficiency is easily determined based on the appliance’s SEER Rating. This is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating that is used to qualify EnergyStar products. The higher the SEER rating, the less amount of energy that is needed to produce energy, which will result in a lower electric bill. Newer models are more energy efficient, and will therefore have a higher SEER rating than a unit that is twenty years old (of at least 16). New homeowners often have to make the hard decision about weighing the costs versus the benefits of replacement a dated air conditioner with a new, high-efficiency system.

Check the Air Conditioning Ducts and Coils

When the inspector is looking over the HVAC system, one main area to look at would be the ductwork. This is what delivers the cool air or heat to the house, and if it is damaged or ineffective, the unit will certainly not perform as it should. Special attention should be taken when it comes to any additions to the house. If the duct work was not done properly, the heating and air conditioning of the house can be unbalanced. This means that all rooms are not receiving even distribution of the air and heat.

Depending on the age of the A/C and the home, there may or may not be a warranty that is available. Many times, the manufacturer will have some type of warranty that covers certain things for the lifetime of the particular model. All of this information should be known before the house is purchased. Some warranties are not transferable, others become void from unauthorized service. All important factors to consider when investing in a home.

Along these lines, there is also the option to get a homeowner’s warranty or service plan. These are often offered by the Realtor or insurance agent. It is basically a plan that covers items such as appliances. Depending on the specifics, this may or may not be a worthwhile option.

Make Sure the A/C Refrigerant is Environmentally Friendly

Finally, there may be ozone and environmental concerns with the air conditioner. Older units may still be utilizing R-12 as the refrigerant. This is no longer produced and has been shown to be an ozone-depleting chemical. Newer models now use R-22 as the refrigerant. Older units may have pressure leaks and could be losing refrigerant. Having this checked during the home inspection is essential. If it is found that the old refrigerant is used or if there are any leaks, a potential homeowner could inquire about getting this resolved before the sale continues.

A home inspection will provide buyers with valuable information. The buyers may find things that need to be fixed before any paperwork is done. It might also give the buyers good reason to move on and look at other properties. Hopefully, the inspection is successful and the buyers find that they are getting a decent house that has an efficient and reliable heating unit.

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One Response to Homeowner Rookie Mistakes: Central A/C System Inspection

  1. Hannah says:

    Good tips, particularly that potential homeowners should hire their own inspector. I almost got myself into trouble one time by taking the recommendation from the real estate agent. Thankfully, I got a second opinion. That was a costly mistake I won’t make again.

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