Buying a home is an exciting process. While it’s fun to consider how many bedrooms, bathrooms, and upgrades you’re looking for in your new home, there’s one factor that is easily overlooked—the HVAC system. Because of Arizona’s long, hot summers, you’ll be relying on your HVAC system a lot. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the system in your new home before you sign on the dotted line. Here are four ways to avoid common HVAC homebuying mistakes.
Age is an important factor when it comes to the efficiency and performance of an HVAC system. On average, a system can last around 10–15 years, though in areas with intense summers like Arizona, the average is closer to seven years. When buying a new home, it’s important to know the exact age of the system, so you’ll know what to expect as the years go on.
If your Realtor® or the current homeowner doesn’t know how old the home’s HVAC system is, you can find the answer on your own relatively quickly. Locate the outdoor unit and look for the manufacturer’s nameplate. There’s a lot of information to be found here, but you’ll want to look and see if there’s a year listed under “manufacture date.” If not, the year the air conditioner was built and installed can be found in the unit’s serial number.
Each manufacturer has their own way of coding this date into the serial number, and it may look impossible to figure out at first glance. Luckily, an online tool can help. Simply locate your air conditioner’s manufacturer and follow the instructions for decoding the serial number. Then, you’ll know exactly how old your system is, so you can make potential plans for a replacement in the future.
The next question you’ll want to ask has two components, maintenance and service history. Regular maintenance can mean the difference between an air conditioner that runs well for years and one that breaks down prematurely. And, quality service from a reputable HVAC company is crucial for proper performance.
If the home has changed owners multiple times in recent years, you might not be able to access the paperwork showing who services the system, and if it was recently maintained. But, if you’re buying a new home or a home from an owner that kept all documentation, you can verify if the system has been in the hands of a reputable company and if there’s a current maintenance agreement on the books.
Even if you can’t get a straight answer about who last worked on the system or when, your home inspector should provide you with a report that can answer the question. They’ll also make sure there aren’t any pressing problems like gas or CO2 leaks.
Some warranties are non-transferrable, meaning they’ll end when you become the new owner of the home. But, in case the warranty is transferrable, you should ensure you’re familiar with what it covers and what the terms are. Ask your Realtor® for any available warranty documentation to make sure you’re in the loop. There are two main categories of HVAC warranties you’ll likely encounter when buying a home.
All major HVAC manufacturers offer a 5– to 10–year warranty on their equipment. Some manufacturers offer the option to extend the warranty for an additional 5–10 years if desired. Manufacturer’s warranties are usually offered at no cost, with a small fee for renewing the warranty once it expires. A manufacturer’s warranty will only cover the main components of the unit. However some manufacturers may offer coverage for labor costs during the first two years of the warranty.
In any case, manufacturer’s warranties don’t cover additional components such as:
Some manufacturers offer their warranties with no registration required. For others, failing to register equipment in a timely manner can potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty all together.
As opposed to manufacturer’s warranties, extended warranties are more lenient regarding terms and conditions, and many can be purchased several years after your unit was first installed. Extended warranties also cover labor costs and other fees that manufacturer’s warranties do not. Extended warranties can last anywhere from 5–10 years and be used to further protect your HVAC unit after your manufacturer’s warranty expires or used alongside a manufacturer’s warranty to provide complete protection.
When budgeting for expenses in your new home, make sure to factor in cooling and heating costs. Ask your Realtor® or the current homeowner if they can give you an average for each month of the year. But remember, the price you end up paying could vary due to your own usage patterns. For example, you may like to keep the house at a lower temperature than the current homeowner, which would lead to higher energy usage and higher monthly bills.
It may not seem like it, but your windows can have a large impact on the temperature of your home, as well as the efficiency of your HVAC system. You should know the R-value of your windows, which determines the thermal efficiency of the glass, to ensure that you don’t unknowingly end up spending extra on your utility bills to offset the heat lost by your windows.
If the windows in your new home have a low R-value, it may be worth considering having replacement windows installed. Embarking on a home improvement project right after you move in can seem daunting, but the payoff will be worth it. You’ll benefit with years of savings on your utility bills and avoid common problems like drafty windows. Additionally, the lifespan of your HVAC system will likely be extended as it won’t have to work as hard to heat and cool your home.
If you can’t commit to having replacement windows installed, you can address window drafts and heat loss in a variety of different ways. Weather stripping and window caulking can easily be installed as a DIY job, while shades and curtains can physically prevent air from escaping and keep your home comfortable.
If you’re looking for a company to maintain or service your new home’s HVAC system, your new neighbors are a great source for recommendations. If you aren’t able to meet your neighbors in person, sites like Nextdoor or local Faceook groups are a good substitute. Or you can keep an eye out for any HVAC trucks you might see in the neighborhood and look up their reviews online.
As you settle into your new home, make sure your HVAC system is taken care of by contacting the experts at Chas Roberts. We’ve helped countless families all over the Valley with their heating and cooling needs, from installing new systems to troubleshooting problems in older ones. Our emergency services mean that we’re always there when you need us, 365 days a year. To top it all off, we have the industry knowledge and know-how to bring our customers the best possible experience.