The news in new home purchases over the last year has started to trend positive, which is great for everyone. If you’re venturing back into the market for a new home, and are looking at existing properties there are many things you need to know when assessing the property. While size, aesthetics, school system, etc. may be the driving factors for the homes you’re considering, it’s oftentimes the things you’ll overlook, and more importantly what your inspector might overlook, that will determine what comfort and costs you’ll have when living in the home.
Home buyers put a lot of faith in inspectors to get things right, and most of them do a great job in identifying what issues a home has. What they won’t do is perform an expert technical assessment, as their profession necessitates that they’re generalists. Since they won’t give you an experts opinion, you’ll have to be your own expert. Below are the items you need to look for within the heating and cooling system when you purchase your new home.
1) Proper Sizing
A technician sizing your home would perform a heat load/loss calculation using the Manual J method, as written by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA). For your purposes, you simply want to be sure your system is not grossly mis-sized. Check out this simple tool from HVAC Op Cost that, with size of home and the region, will give you the recommended tonnage in cooling capacity, and BTU’s of heating.
2) Equipment History
It’s worth a note that this is not a fool proof method of predicting performance, but the system should have a list of actions performed since installation.
It holds true that systems that have preventative maintenance will likely last longer, and give you fewer issues. If your home of choice has a laundry list of repairs that have been done, you might also expect necessary repairs or replacement.
3. Test Temps in Living Space
Where do you spend the most time? If you’re anything like my family, it’s the kitchen, tv room, and bedroom. While the thermostat may be set at 70, go to these spaces to see what the temperature feels like. If 70 at the thermostat is 80 in the bedroom, you might be looking at some duct work issues or some expensive bills to get your system to a comfortable temperature in these prime living spaces.
Clearly there are other factors at play in your heating and cooling system, but if you can troubleshoot these three areas, you’ll be going further than your inspector and likely preventing future issues. If you happen to see something is amiss in any of these areas, give us a call and we can assist with what to do.