Purchasing a new home in West Palm Beach, Florida, is an exciting event, and you’ve probably got a million questions. Before you sign any paperwork, add a few questions about HVAC to your list of things to ask the realtor or the sellers. A bad HVAC system isn’t the end of the world, because it’s easier to replace than, say, a shoddy roof. Still, find out as much as you can about the system when buying a new home, so you know what to expect when you move in and avoid expensive surprises.
How Old Is the System?
The average HVAC system, including furnaces and outdoor AC units, lasts 10 to 15 years. Ask the seller about the system’s age. If the seller is not able to assist, check the unit for the model number, manufacturer’s information, and anything else that could be used to determine the age of the system. If it is nearing the end of its life and will need to be replaced in a few years, that’s a cost that will become your responsibility. If it needs to be replaced now, you might be able to negotiate a new HVAC system into the deal or a reduction of the asking price for the home, so you can save money and buy a new system.
Has it Received Regular Maintenance?
System age is only one factor affecting how well the AC and furnace will operate. If the seller has performed regular HVAC maintenance, then even an older AC or furnace will provide better performance. If the previous owners neglected routine maintenance, you’ll be able to tell. Rattling compressors, dirty vents, and other problems crop up relatively frequently in neglected HVAC systems. You’ll also have to replace the unit sooner, even if you get on a strict maintenance schedule as soon as you move in.
What Kind of System Is It?
Is it an ENERGY STAR® system? A heat pump or ductless system? An oil furnace? Is the brand reputable and innovative or one you don’t know? An older system that doesn’t have an ENERGY STAR rating will cost you more in energy expenses each month than a new ENERGY STAR AC and furnace would.
Check the thermostat, too. At the very least, you want a programmable thermostat that allows you to set different temperatures for the week and the weekend. If the thermostat is of the old mercury variety, ask the sellers to replace it before you sign the deal.
Is the System Under Warranty?
If the warranty is still good for a few more years, make sure it’ll transfer to you when you buy the house. Otherwise, think about buying your own warranty on the HVAC system. If any problems do crop up after you’ve moved in, you’ll be glad you have the warranty to cover your costs.
What Will Your Heating and Cooling Bills Be Like?
High heating bills could be but are not necessarily related to HVAC needs. Air conditioners use a considerable amount of electricity — in some cases half of what you use each month. So if the seller has an energy-guzzling AC or heating unit, it will be reflected on the energy bills. Plus, high energy costs indicate other potential problems with the house, such as gaps around windows and doors or poor insulation.
If you’re not sure about the condition of the HVAC unit in your potential home or don’t trust the answers you’re receiving, give us a call. We know HVAC systems, and we’ll be able to tell you whether the system has been maintained well or if it’s in need of replacement. The HVAC system might not make or break your decision to buy a certain house, but you do want the opportunity to ask the seller to fix any glaring problems, and you always want to know what you’re inheriting. Give us a call at (561) 202-1422 so we can help.
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