Congratulations, you’ve found the perfect home! Or so you might think. When the temperature soars into the 90s in the middle of August, will your air conditioner work when you need it most? Or when the temperature dips below freezing in mid-February, will your heating system be ready to keep you warm and toasty?
It’s important to have your home inspected by a licensed and certified professional with experience performing visual and operational inspections of home heating and cooling systems, such as furnaces, central air conditioning, and heat pumps. At A-Pro Home Inspection, our home inspectors perform a visual and operational HVAC assessment, including running the heating and cooling appliances (only when possible, though, due to seasonal temperature extremes that could damage the units).
For the heating part of the inspection, your home inspector will check installed heating equipment; vent systems, flues and chimneys; fuel-burning fireplaces and stoves; and distribution systems. The inspector will describe the location of the thermostat, heating source, and heating method. Items such as heat exchangers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and air cleaning devices do not fall within the scope of the inspection. Further, the inspector will not comment on heat supply adequacy and distribution balance or the adequacy of combustion air components.
For the cooling phase of the inspection, the home inspector will assess central and permanently installed cooling equipment (not window units) and distribution systems. Like with the heating checkup, the inspector will not determine cooling supply adequacy and distribution balance.
In addition to noting the age and describing the cooling and heating systems, here are just a few of the common problems the home inspectors at A-Pro Home Inspection report on during a complete foundation-to-roof evaluation. Let’s start with the home’s air conditioning:
Dirt and Debris Clogging Condenser Fins: A filthy condenser/compressor coil can severely hinder the cooling power of the unit, decrease efficiency, increase utility bills, and drastically cut short the life of the system. A dirty filter will also be noted by the home inspector, in addition to debris such as grass clippings blocking air flow.
Visible Damage: Your home inspector will note exterior damage to the condenser, such as rust, leakage, and bent fins that force the unit to work harder.
Improper Clearance and Obstructions: Your inspector will report on whether the outside air-cooled A/C condenser is far enough away from the house, deck or porch to allow for sufficient air flow. Two feet of clearance is generally required. Further, shrubbery too close to the unit can block the unit from working at a maximum level.
Missing or Damaged Parts: These include the unit’s exterior disconnect switch and suction line.
Levelness and Other Issues: The home inspector will indicate if the condenser/compressor is on a tilt, is loosely mounted, starts with difficulty, is unusually noisy, emits an odor (a sign of motor damage or overheating), and is covered in frost or ice.
Over years of work, A-Pro Home Inspection’s certified professionals have encountered numerous problems with heating systems. These include systems that do not turn on or labor heavily when operated; improperly installed or broken ductwork; dirty filters; blocked or closed registers that disrupt the flow of heat; older systems that are nearing or at the end of their service life; and flue pipes that are too close to flammable material or are not positioned and supported properly to allow exhaust gasses to escape to the outside.
A checkup of the home’s heating and cooling systems is part of an A-Pro 500-point inspection. To schedule a home inspection, call 423-273-5950.