Home Inspection for HVAC Systems

Published by 
Last updated: 
February 7, 2024

Home Inspections

By Betty Stephens of Quest Media

Selling your house? When you sell your house, and conduct a real estate inspection what should inspectors check on the HVAC systems?
Heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) inspection

A heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) home inspection reviews the heating and cooling system of a home from a performance perspective. The inspection usually does not inspect or compare to codes or manufacturer requirements. Heating is provided typically by a forced air furnace distributed by duct work or a water/steam boiler using radiators or convectors, but space heaters, heat pumps and other methods are also in use. The energy source is usually natural gas, fuel oil, or electric, but other sources include wood and Geo-thermal. Cooling can be described as a split system, packaged unit, fan coil, heat pump, an evaporative cooler, or window/through-the-wall a/c unit.
A typical inspection will carry out a visual observation and operation of the HVAC system. The inspection will consider visible and readily accessible components, while noting recognized adverse and material defects present at the time of inspection. The inspection does not usually disassemble the equipment. The home inspection report may include a description of the system by its key components. Ideally the inspection intends to reduce risk for the buyer by reporting observed material defects. A defect may be a repair, maintenance or improvement consideration with or without a safety association. An optional statement on perceived useful remaining life may be provided.
Home Warranty Inc. states that “50% of the claims they pay are on HVAC systems yet these are two of the most under inspected items on the whole house inspection. Often the home inspector will only turn on the HVAC system that applies to current weather conditions (i.e. air conditioner in the summer, furnace in the winter) but does not evaluate the other system. In addition, several home inspectors do not have the equipment or technical knowledge to properly test HVAC systems so they tend to include several disclaimers on the home inspection about their lack of knowledge and recommend a qualified HVAC contractor evaluate further. This disclaimer is routinely included so that the recommendation to get a HVAC inspection completed becomes “white noise” to a potential home buyer.”
See their Web site at: http://www.homewarrantyinc.com/get-a-hvac-inspection

It is recommended that you use HVAC contractors to conduct “comprehensive” examinations of components and systems to determine whether they are working properly.
The role of an HVAC inspector is to assess the cleanliness and structural integrity of an HVAC system. Inspectors search for obstructions, excess moisture and microbial contamination in the HVAC system.
FHA Guidelines
When inspecting the HVAC home systems look for the following issues. FHA suggests that these issues may indicate unacceptable property condition.
Furnace/Heating System:
The home’s heating system must be in working condition and provide heat to all rooms in the property. If the property is heated by one or multiple heat stoves, the inspector will verify that these stoves can keep every room at a minimum temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Wood stoves or furnaces must have chimneys that are in good condition, and wood stove chimneys must have chimney liners and be free of buildup.
• Unit does not turn on
• Heat is not emitted
• Unusual noise
• Smoke or irregular smell
• Significant holes or deterioration on unit
ENERGY STAR Home HVAC System Checklists
The Energy Star Web site has several HVAC checklists for different types of inspections that you may download or print.

Click the following link to view the checklists: http://http://www.gobookee.net/hvac-system-inspection-checklist/

inspection pass

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