Check the HVAC before buying a home

We often get caught up in issues like open concepts, wooden floors and the number of bedrooms when we are looking to buy a house.

But remember the HVAC system, too. It’s a big-ticket item, especially painful if it breaks or needs major work soon after you buy the home.

You need to ask some questions and request paperwork to back up the answers. Questions like:

• How old is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system? What’s the condition?

Boilers and furnaces have an estimated life expectancy and so do heat pumps and other equipment. How well were they maintained? Did they get regular professional maintenance or were they neglected for a decade?

• What about the ductwork?

Dislodged or leaky ductwork can be expensive to repair. Have the previous owners maintained the ducts, which carry heated and cooled air to the rooms? Bad ducts are bad news because the system can’t deliver the air efficiently.

• Can you try the heating and the air conditioning just to satisfy your curiosity?

Most owners would not object, just as an honest seller would let you take a used car for a test drive.

• How is the condenser?

Check to see if the condenser is hampered by overgrown shrubs or other vegetation that will inhibit its operation and make the system work harder – and raise the utility bill.

Along those lines, a look at a year’s worth of utility bills will give you a good idea of what to expect for energy costs.

For maximum peace of mind, you can hire a qualified HVAC tech to thoroughly inspect the system to make sure you know what you are getting in the way of heating, cooling and ventilation.

Premier HVAC maintains and installs commercial and residential heating, cooling and ventilation equipment.