We recently caught up with Scott Meier, the owner of Right Now Air, an HVAC Service & Repair company in Las Vegas, NV, to see what questions first-time home buyers should ask in regards to HVAC systems. He has shared some of his wisdom with us in the article below.
Buying your first home can be an exciting time in life. But it can often seem overwhelming. After all, finding the perfect home can be challenging even for experienced buyers, and there are so many different factors to take into consideration.
As an HVAC professional for over 30 years, I’ve seen many situations where first-time home buyers failed to gather pertinent information about their home’s heating and cooling system and were left dealing with unexpected repairs (and unexpected costs.) problems with a home’s HVAC system can lead to costly repairs, so this system should be a major consideration in your purchase.
Before you buy, here are some important questions to ask about your potential new home’s HVAC system.
1. What Type of HVAC System Does the Home Have?
Does the home have central air and forced heat? If it is a multi-story home, does each floor have a separate system?
One central system cooling and heating on different floors can work but the comfort will suffer. Every home is different and each system will require different maintenance and operating expenses. Find out early on what system is in place before you ever consider buying.
2. What is the Age and Condition of the System?
Knowing the age and condition of the existing HVAC system before purchasing your first home is critical. Depending on the system and home, repair or replacement costs can be thousands of dollars. And an old, inefficient system can cost you hundreds of dollars per month (especially during summers in Vegas) even without repairs.
Before considering a purchase, you should get a good understanding of how well the system operates based on its age and condition. This could be a major cost-saver down the road.
3. Has the HVAC System Been Recently Inspected?
Asking if the system has been recently inspected – and if so, whether the inspection was done by a certified trained professional – can give you a good indication that the system is in strong working order.
Home inspectors are often not trained enough in HVAC systems to identify and report potential issues. For that reason, I recommend consulting with a professional HVAC repair company to inspect the heating and cooling system. The home buying process can be long and tiring, but upfront inspection and proper maintenance can ensure there are no potential safety risks and extend the lifespan of the HVAC system.
4. What Are the Average Monthly Heating/Cooling Costs?
Typically, local utility companies can provide data on the average cost to run AC and heating systems in your area. In some places (like Las Vegas,) you can even get information for a specific home. But you can and should also request this information directly from the homeowner.
In areas with extreme seasonal weather conditions – like the scorching heat of a Las Vegas summer or the bone-chilling cold of a Chicago winter – utility expenses may vary greatly throughout the year. Figure out what the maximum costs will be and make sure you can budget safely for that amount each month.
5. Does the HVAC System Have a Warranty?
Depending on the age of the home and its existing HVAC system, the equipment may be out of warranty. If there is an existing warranty on the HVAC equipment, most manufacturers only provide the warranty to the original purchaser of the equipment.
Is the Warranty Transferrable?
In some cases, for a fee, the manufacturer will transfer the existing warranty to the new homeowner if the manufacturer is notified within 30 days of the close of escrow.
Take the time to find out whether a transferrable warranty is in place for your potential home’s HVAC system. If the warranty can’t be transferred, it is even more important to make sure the HVAC system is inspected before purchasing the home and operating at peak performance.
For New Homes, Ask About Warranty Details
When purchasing a new build, the warranty on the HVAC system can vary from builder to builder and manufacturer to manufacturer. Typically, the HVAC system will have a 5-10 year parts warranty and a 1-year labor warranty. The good news? HVAC systems in brand new homes will have been inspected during the construction process and should not require an additional inspection.
The HVAC system is often an unseen, forgotten part of the home during the buying process. But once you’re in the home it can have a major impact on how comfortable you are and how much you pay for utilities each month. Follow these five simple tips and you should be able to avoid headaches or unexpected costs that come with a faulty HVAC system.