Buying a Home? Don’t Overlook These Important HVAC and Plumbing Factors

A home inspection with a professional is a crucial part of the home-buying process, as it’s the only way to ensure that the home is safe, efficient, and ready for you to live in. Along with a professional inspection, you can do your part to make sure you understand the ins and outs of your new home’s plumbing and HVAC system. Here are the important things you should know before you sign on the dotted line and make your home purchase official.

Ask who installed and services the system

The seller and/or real estate agent you’re working with might be able to tell you which HVAC company installed the HVAC system, and who maintains it. Looking back on past maintenance reports can help you learn about the efficiency, performance, and operating history of the equipment. If the home is brand new, there may not be any maintenance records, but you should at least be able to access information about who installed the system and what its specifications are.

Regular maintenance is crucial, not only for the wellbeing of the system itself, but for continued warranty coverage. Along with knowing who installed and maintains the system, you should be aware of the system’s current warranty coverage and the terms associated with it. Questions you should ask about the system’s warranty include:

  • How many annual maintenance visits are included?
  • Which parts of the heating and air conditioning unit are covered? How about the thermostat(s) and exhaust fans?
  • How many years are left on the warranty, and how much will it cost to renew the warranty when it expires?
  • What conditions can void the warranty? (Common ones include not using approved replacement parts, failing to schedule maintenance, or not working with a qualified and licensed contractor.)

Thermostat basics and operation

Since air conditioning is so important during the Arizona summers, it’s important to know the ins and outs of your home’s thermostat controls. While many thermostats are straightforward, some may have unique controls that could take some getting used to. Make sure you know how to run the system, as well as the basics of setting a temperature.

If your home doesn’t already have one, consider installing a programmable thermostat. Compared to manual thermostats that only let you set one temperature at a time, a programmable thermostat is equipped to let you set the temperature for different times of the day. With a programmable thermostat, you can set a specific temperature for when you’re at home or away, reducing the amount of energy that’s used when you’re not home.

Factor in annual energy costs

As a homeowner, you should be prepared to budget for the annual energy costs in your home. If the home has a previous owner, they should be able to give you a general figure. Certain aspects of the home’s design, location, and architecture can influence its energy efficiency. In particular, windows have a large impact on the temperature of the home and can make your HVAC system work harder if they’re not well sealed. A home energy audit can help you identify and fix factors that could increase your energy bills.

Locate emergency shutoff valves

It’s important to know where your emergency water shutoff valves are before you need them. After all, there’s nothing worse than watching a rush of flowing water and wondering how to stop a leak or overflow. For localized leaks, it’s easier to turn the water off to a specific fixture than to your entire house. Toilets, sinks, and washing machines have their own shutoff valves that can be found either behind or next to the fixture. Simply turn the valve clockwise to stop the flow of water.

Sometimes it’s necessary to shut off the water to your entire home. In these cases, you’ll need to access the main water shutoff valve. Depending on your home, this may be located indoors, in a basement or crawlspace or next to your water heater in the garage. The valve may also be located outdoors under a cover near the street.

Water heater basics

Many homeowners don’t think about their water heater until it stops working. Hot water is a modern necessity, so knowing the basics of your new water heater is important. At a minimum, you should know the age, type, and efficiency of your water heater.


Knowing the age of your water heater can help you form a rough timeline for any potential replacements. You can either ask your home builder or look back on paperwork to see when your heater was installed, or find the age using the serial number. The average water heater lasts between 8-12 years, depending on how well it’s maintained.


Three of the main water heater types are traditional, tankless, and solar. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, tankless or “on demand” water heaters remove the need for a large storage tank, making them ideal for smaller homes. Solar heaters are especially popular in sunny climates like Arizona, while traditional heaters provide the highest volume of consistently hot water due to their dedicated high-capacity storage tank.


Uniform Energy Factor, or UEF, is the newest metric used by ENERGY STAR to measure water heater efficiency. The higher the UEF, the more efficient the water heater is. EUF is determined by simulated use tests conducted by the Department of Energy. If your water heater is ENERGY STAR certified, you can find its EUF rating in their database, along with other useful information such as fuel type, vent size, and more.

Trust Chas Roberts for your home’s HVAC and plumbing needs

At Chas Roberts, we know homes inside and out. As the largest, and longest lasting, HVAC company in Arizona, we’ve installed more than 1 million units throughout the state. Our history of hands-on experience in all things HVAC and plumbing is one of the many reasons we’re considered leaders in the industry. Contact us for installations, maintenance, repairs, and more.