Consider a Residential HVAC Service Inspection Before Buying a Home

[fa icon="calendar"] June 01, 2015 / by Home Services Expert

man_inspecting_HVAC_unitIf you're debating whether to have a heating, ventilation and air conditioning inspection conducted before buying a home – one done by a residential HVAC service expert, and not just a general home inspector – consider this tale involving a young couple from Arizona who purchased a home in northern California last fall.

Their home inspection report said that the “furnace appears functional." And functional it was – until the third time they turned on the furnace and it conked out just two months after they moved in. After a thorough inspection by a residential HVAC service company, it was found that the heat exchanger was rusted and riddled with cracks.

The couple still were busy unpacking when they were forced to replace the furnace – and they had no home warranty to offset this large, unexpected expense.

Had the couple hired a heating and air conditioning service company to conduct a thorough HVAC inspection, they would have dismantled the furnace, found the cracks and forewarned them of the impending breakdown so that they would have been spared the expense (either by asking for a home warranty or by asking the sellers to replace the furnace before they moved in).

There are several compelling reasons you should secure an HVAC inspection before buying a home, but first understand the difference between a general home inspection and a specialized HVAC inspection.

Home inspections should raise red flags

The American Society of Home Inspectors defines a home inspection as an "examination of the current condition of a house." The home inspector "…will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and indicate what components and systems may need major repair or replacement."

In the course of conducting an inspection, a home inspector usually has a lot of ground to cover. He usually inspects a house from top to bottom, from the roof to the foundation. The final report usually includes a summary of the condition of a house's electrical system, plumbing, sewer or septic service and its HVAC system.

No one is saying that home inspectors aren't thorough. Many are painstakingly conscientious and comb through a house and turn on every light switch, test every outlet and investigate every register and return.

But for the most part, home inspectors are generalists, not specialists, and they don't have the advanced HVAC training and advanced industry credentials that the experts at residential HVAC service companies have. This means, unfortunately, that it's very possible they might inadvertently overlook a technical “pre-existing condition” with an HVAC system that could end up costing you thousands of dollars – just as it did with the young couple from Arizona.

Heed a third-party warning

Take it from the people at Home Warranty, who say that a full 50 percent of the claims they pay are for HVAC systems. Despite the prevalence of claims on furnace and air conditioners, “these are two of the most under-inspected items on the whole house inspection,” Home Warranty says. “Often, the home inspector will only turn on the HVAC system that applies to current weather conditions (i.e., air conditioner in the summer, furnace in the winter).”

When Home Warranty is asked, “What is the most valuable tip you have with regards to appliances and mechanical systems of a home?” the company responds: “In addition to getting a whole house inspection, get a heating, ventilation and cooling inspection done by a qualified heating and cooling contractor.”

An HVAC inspection is an investment

And what if you're still vacillating about hiring a skilled residential HVAC service technician to conduct an inspection? Yes, it will cost you some money – and at a time when it seems like there is no limit to the number of expenses you face in the process of buying a home.

It might help to consider an HVAC inspection an investment because:

  • Your furnace and air conditioner represent two of the most expensive appliances in your home. No one likes being hit with an unexpected home repair.

  • About half of your energy bill will probably go toward heating and cooling your home. Therefore, it literally pays to ensure that the HVAC system runs as efficiently as possible – and, if it hasn't been well maintained, that you are duly forewarned before you end up paying for the consequences of neglect.

It's no mere tactic to say that a residential HVAC service inspection by Experts In Your Home will bring you guaranteed peace of mind. What's truly scary is proceeding to buy a home without one.

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