Everywhere I turn I see a “SOLD” sign or hear of someone else purchasing a new home. With a new home it is tempting to first let your mind drift ahead to thinking about paint colors and built-ins. However, whether you are in the process of buying your first house or your fourth there still needs to be a home inspection and there are some things you should know. Generally, though not necessarily always, home inspectors are not licensed to professionally check your heating and cooling system. This means that though they may be able to give it a good spot check, it is possible they will miss some major problems with the various elements of the HVAC system.
Furnace - A home inspector will usually be able to tell you how old the furnace is and based on that give you a recommendation about whether it needs to be replaced or not. This is very helpful, but before closing on a house you should take this inspection one step further and have a licensed, insured, professional thoroughly check your exchanger using a camera. This is the way to check to see whether or not it is cracked. A cracked heat exhanger poses major safety and health concerns as that could cause carbon monoxide leaks in the home. Also, a cracked heat exhanger could be the sign of an even greater problem such as improper airflow or moisture dripping in. If the heat exchanger is cracked it needs to be replaced or the whole furnace should be replaced if the unit is over 10 years old.
Air Conditioner - This is a helpful hint for all of you looking at houses in the winter or colder temperatures. Air conditioners cannot truly be inspected until it is warm outside. If it is not yet that warm and your home inspector says they checked it, just know that they probably only did a visual inspection. If there is no way to wait until the temperatures warm up to have your air conditioner checked see if you can put a clause in your contract about it.
This information can help you be better informed (and sound like a real smarty-pants) when discussing the inspection with your home inspector. It could also end up saving you a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
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