The home inspection is an important part of the process of buying a home. Home inspectors are supposed to let you know all about the condition of the home you’re interested in, but certain kinds of problems can get overlooked. One area where this can happen is HVAC.
Why Do Home Inspectors Miss HVAC Problems?
The job of a home inspector is to look over a house and pinpoint any issues that either need fixing right away or might lead to problems in the future. This is an important part of the home-buying process because it ensures you know the condition of the house before you make a major financial commitment. The problem is, home inspectors are not specialists, and HVAC systems are complex, with a lot of moving parts. Home inspectors don’t have the tools, experience, and expertise to thoroughly check heating and air systems, so some air conditioning and heating issues can get overlooked.
When a home inspector checks out an HVAC system, they generally switch it on and run one or more heating and cooling cycles. This quickly lets them confirm that the system is working. However, they don’t look at the inner workings of the system. This means they’re unlikely to notice issues like worn parts, loose valves, the inner condition of the system, or wiring issues.
And it’s not just that home inspectors aren’t HVAC experts. Another potential problem is that home inspectors aren’t required to check any system that’s located in a part of the home that’s inconvenient or dangerous to access. For instance, if your HVAC system is partially located in an attic, crawl space, or similar area, then the inspector can just skip that part altogether. Therefore, you have no way of knowing what condition the HVAC system is in—and that’s information you need before buying a home!
HVAC problems are therefore often overlooked. The inspection report may state that the house’s heating and cooling system is in good working order, even if some of its parts are old, worn, and close to failing. As a result, a new homeowner can get a nasty surprise a few months or a year later when the system breaks down.
HVAC Issues Home Inspectors Commonly Miss in Home Inspections
The average home inspection can miss a wide range of potential HVAC problems. Because the HVAC inspector doesn’t check on specific parts of the system, they can fail to detect issues such as:
1. Gas Line Leak
If the HVAC system runs on gas, a professional HVAC unit or gas plumbing inspection is vital. Gas line leaks are highly dangerous because natural gas is combustible. If a home inspector fails to detect a gas line issue, the consequences are potentially very serious.
2. Cracked Heat Exchanger
A cracked heat exchanger is also a potentially dangerous problem. If this component is cracked or broken, it may leak deadly carbon monoxide gas. This is the kind of issue that needs to be fixed immediately, and the cost of replacement runs into the thousands of dollars. It may be a good time to consider replacing the system instead of putting money into only one part.
3. Faulty Exhaust Venting
Problems with the exhaust venting system on the furnace can also cause leakage of carbon monoxide. In some HVAC systems these kinds of issues automatically cause the system to shut down. However, since most inspections only involve a brief HVAC test, the system may not run long enough to trigger the automatic shut-off.
4. Failing Blower Motor
If the blower motor is dirty, it can eventually cause this part of the system to overstrain and wear out. In the meantime, a dirty blower motor makes the system less efficient, leading to higher energy bills. A professional HVAC home inspection can spot this and advise on repairs.
5. Problems with the Condensate Line
If the condensate line leaks or is clogged, it can cause the furnace or air conditioner to leak water. This can lead to internal damage that may eventually crack the heat exchanger.
6. Wiring Issues
Poor connectivity or dirty wiring can make the whole system less efficient, leading to higher energy bills. Wiring issues may also overstrain the system or cause it to stop working altogether.
7. Refrigerant Levels
If the refrigerant level is too high or too low, the air conditioner won’t cool the house evenly or efficiently. Improper refrigerant levels can lead to compressor damage.
8. Problems with Ductwork
A leak in the ductwork can mean that a significant portion of cooled or heated air is lost as it moves through the system. That means the whole system is less efficient and more expensive to run. It also forces the HVAC to work overtime to compensate, meaning parts can wear out and break faster than they should.
9. Dirty Evaporator Coil
The evaporator coil is the part of the HVAC system that removes heat from indoor air as it passes through the AC unit. If it’s dirty and clogged, the whole system is less efficient. It will use more energy and cool your home less effectively, and it may eventually fail altogether.
10. Dirty Filters
A dirty filter may seem like a small problem in comparison to other HVAC issues, but a dirty filter can reduce heating and cooling efficiency and effectiveness. And when the filter is clogged, the system won’t do as good a job of removing dust and other allergens from the air.
Protect Your Investment: Get an Expert HVAC Home Inspection
Relying on a traditional home inspector to detect HVAC issues can mean that some of those issues might go unnoticed.
The solution? Hire an HVAC professional—an expert who can perform a cooling and heating home inspection and confirm what kind of shape the system is in. A CW HVAC Service Pro can check for all the common issues and the less common ones as well. As a skilled professional who understands furnaces and air conditioners inside and out, they’ll know what to look for, so you can feel confident that you have all the necessary information about your new home’s HVAC system before making the decision to buy a house.
What Does an HVAC Professional Check in an HVAC Home Inspection?
- Furnace cabinet
- Electrical components/wiring
- Blower wheel
- Exhaust venting and heat exchanger
- Gas & CO testing
- Evaporator coil
- Drain pan
- Condensation line
- Outdoor condenser & blower fan
- Refrigerant levels
- Electrical components/wiring
An HVAC expert can also advise you of the types of HVAC tune-ups you might be looking at in the near future if you choose to buy a home, and they can give you guidance about the type of regular HVAC maintenance your furnace and air conditioner will need.
A Professional HVAC Home Inspection Can Save You Time, Trouble, and Money in the Long Run
Home inspections are a crucial part of the home-buying process. And it’s important to know as much as possible about the property to protect your investment and enjoy your new home. An HVAC system that looks fine on paper could, in reality, be on the verge of failure. In the long run, the minor expense of a professional HVAC inspection could save you thousands of dollars in HVAC repair or replacement costs following closing!
Don’t take a chance on an untested HVAC system. Call CW Service Pros to schedule a through HVAC home inspection and find out that essential information before you buy. Before you buy, you may consider getting a plumbing home inspection also. Learn about the need for plumbing home inspections here!
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