Have you just bought a home? Judging by the housing market these days, there’s a good chance that plenty of you have either done just that or are contemplating purchasing a home. Did you know that doing a HVAC inspection is a crucial part?
You don’t need us to tell you, making that decision is a huge and momentous one, and it will shape your life for years to come. It is also a development that comes with a number of responsibilities and questions. And while we understand that you just want to take some time to enjoy this accomplishment, it is never too early to start thinking about how comfortable you will be inside your new home. And when comfort is the question, the shape of your HVAC system will always provide the most resounding answer.
With that in mind, let’s look at some things you should do when inspecting the air conditioning and heating systems – whether in a house you are thinking of purchasing or one you have just purchased.
CONSIDER A SPECIALIZED HVAC INSPECTION
Did you know that HVAC – which is a house’s entire cooling and heating system (HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) – costs account for roughly 50 percent of a home’s total energy bill?
Air conditioner and heating system upgrades are also some of the most expensive repairs or replacements that you can make to a home, so it is advisable that you take a good, hard look at the HVAC systems in any home you are considering purchasing. A failing air conditioner shouldn’t necessarily deter you from making a purchase, but it is certainly something you should know about before making that decision.
Here’s the catch though: the average home inspector does NOT do detailed home HVAC inspection. Sure, they may turn it on to see if it works or find out the age of the unit(s), but he or she will likely not take a close look and make sure that the HVAC in question truly makes the home comfortable.
In fact, heating and air situations are some of the most missed problems when it comes to a home HVAC inspection, as inspectors simply don’t know what exactly to look for. That is why it is a good idea to hire a licensed HVAC specialist to come take a look at any perspective home’s air conditioner and heater (as well as ductwork).
These type of detailed inspections – an HVAC professional should give you an itemized report of every aspect of a home’s HVAC system – can run anywhere from $200-$600, but they can end up saving you thousands in costs down the road.
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW WHEN IT COMES TO A HVAC INSPECTION
There are several other aspects to be aware of either before or after you purchase a new home – several of which will inform you of whether you may need to replace the home’s current HVAC system.
With that in mind, here are two questions to ask yourself:
- How old is the HVAC system?
Air conditioners and heat pumps typically last 10-12 years, furnaces around 15-20. If both systems are in that age range, you can expect problems from each in the near future, no matter if one is working just fine at the moment.
- How expensive will repairs be vs. the cost of replacement?
If repairs exceed half the cost of what it would cost to replace the unit, you should probably go ahead and just replace it. Don’t take our word for it. Consumer Reports made this same statement in 2014, and it stands as true today. (consumer reports article here: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/02/repair-or-replace/index.htm)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU DO NEED A HEATING/COOLING SYSTEM REPLACEMENT
So, you’ve already made a purchase and you either knew going in that it would be time to replace the HVAC or have since figured it out. So, now what?
First off, you need to do your research. But where to start? Start with these steps, each of which will help you make the right decision in determining your needs in comfort and price.
- Calculate the correct HVAC system size
The best way to help you ensure you get the HVAC you need is by knowing just how hard the system must work to keep you comfortable. The good news is that there is a simple formula to help you determine this.
First, figure out the square footage of your house. Next, determine the base BTU (the unit used to measure energy used for heating and cooling, the British Thermal Unit). It takes approximately 25 BTUs to cool one square foot of your home. Also, be sure to account for high ceilings. If they are over eight feet high increase your BTU estimates by 25 percent.
For example, a 1,500-foot square foot house with normal ceiling height would require 37,500 BTUs to cool properly. To determine the size of air conditioner necessary, divide that 37,500 by 12,000 (whatever the number of square footage and BTUs always divide by 12,000). The result is roughly equal to 3, meaning you would need a 3-ton air conditioning unit.
- Research HVAC brands
There are literally dozens of HVAC companies, but you can learn a lot by some simple internet research. Check to see which brands and units are certified by Energy Star so that they work at maximum efficiency. Also, familiarize yourself with these two acronyms: HSPF and SEER.
HSPF stands for Heating Season Performance Factor. It determines the efficiency of a heat pump. All new heat pumps must have a minimum rating of 7.7
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, which rates the efficiency of a cooling system. All new systems must rate a minimum of 13 to 14.
The higher the rating of each unit, the more efficient it will be. Higher numbers also incur higher costs, though better efficiency will cost you less in power bills over the long run.
- Get multiple quotes
There are plenty of companies out there that both install and maintain HVAC systems. But each is a little different and will likely offer competing prices. As long as you live somewhere where there are a multitude of competitors it is a good idea to get as many quotes as possible. Ensure that the company you contact is state licensed (you can check any company or employee here: http://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/), insured and bonded.
Each company should take measurements and conduct and HVAC inspection of your current system. They should also provide you with a written and signed estimate of the replacement fee and process. The estimate should include job start and completion date, the details of the entire job (including any ductwork or construction costs incurred), price for each task, the details of the new system, clean-up costs, removal of old HVAC unit and new system warranty details. You should make sure that any installation company has proof of a current HVAC license and insurance.
MAKE THE RIGHT CALL
If you find yourself chasing down this last step, understand that Conditioned Air Systems has been a leading supplier of home comfort in north Georgia since 1983. Our NATE-certified technicians are skilled at installing the latest technology while also understanding how to repair systems of all types and makes. And because customer satisfaction is our priority, we will do whatever it takes to ensure you get the right HVAC solution to your new home.
Call us today to learn more at 770-536-7509.