The Kansas City home market is hot right now, and here in Olathe we're seeing homes snatched up in as little as one week from the time of listing. Homes moving so quickly is great news for sellers, but for buyers, especially first-time buyers, it's perhaps even more important to conduct your due diligence on all aspects of a home before you close the deal. After all, the only thing worse than losing an opportunity on a home that's just perfect for you and the family is closing on a home that's not as good as it looked.
Fortunately, big-ticket items such as the furnace, air conditioner, water heater, and sump pump are all fairly easy to inspect and bring to the attention of the seller before you lock in an offer. Still, many home buyers aren't sure what to look for, so it's a good idea to ask a lot of questions, take copious notes, and don't be afraid to call in an Olathe heating and cooling professional—or any other professional you may need—to check things out before you make a decision.
With that said, here's a home buyer's checklist to give you an idea of what to look for in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and all the related systems of your potential new home:
1. Locate and Inspect the Furnace.
The furnace is pretty big and easy to find. But what is it and how does it function? Is it natural gas or liquid propane (LP)? What is the brand? What is its efficiency rating? These are all questions that an Olathe heating and cooling technician can help answer for you. Before you make any home purchase, you should always have a certified technician check out the furnace during the home inspection. Not only can they tell you about the furnace itself, they can let you know what condition it's in and warn you of any likely repairs or possible breakdowns or hazards that are waiting down the road.
When you're walking through the house, it's a good idea to check the heating system to ensure that it comes on when it should and that it functions properly. You should also ask the seller questions: When it was last serviced? Do they know who installed it? Is it still under warranty? If it is, will the warranty be transferred to you when you buy the house?
2. Locate and Inspect the Air Conditioner.
The air conditioner is usually located outside the house, making it pretty easy to spot. But there are questions to be asked here, too. Is it a traditional A/C unit or a heat pump? How old is it? Was it serviced regularly? Is it still under warranty?
The SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, should be labeled somewhere on the air conditioner itself. If the house has an older A/C unit, it's also a good idea to ask about what refrigerant the unit uses. R-22, a refrigerant used in some older A/Cs, has been banned by the EPA. Ask your Olathe heating and cooling technician for help with refrigerants and other technical questions regarding your A/C.
3. Inspect the Ductwork.
The furnace and air conditioner may heat and cool the air in your home, but the ductwork carries that heated and cooled air throughout the house. While the furnace and air conditioner are relatively easy to spot, ductwork is usually buried in the walls.
An Olathe heating and cooling professional can give your ductwork a thorough appraisal, but even on a basic walkthrough you can look for condensation or loose connections anyplace that ductwork is visible. Also take a look at grilles and registers to see that they are clean.
4. Locate and Inspect the Water Heater.
The water heater will often be located near the furnace, but wherever it is it should be fairly easy to find. Obvious problems include visible rust, corrosion, dents, or any other type of physical damage to the water heater and tank itself. Water stains on the floor around the water heater may be indicators of previous leaks or other problems. It's also a good idea to look for mineral deposits on the water heater connections.
5. Locate and Test the Sump Pump.
It's been a particularly rainy summer in Kansas City, but even when the weather hasn't been rainy, it's always a good idea to find the sump pump in your potential new home and make sure that it works. The sump pump helps keep your basement from flooding in wet weather by pumping water out. It's also relatively easy to check. Just pour a bucket of water into the sump pit or tank. If the pump kicks on and pumps the water out, that's a real good start.
6. Check the Supporting Systems.
After you've checked the main components of your home HVAC system, don't forget all of the supporting bits that are also important to check when you're inspecting a potential new home. Check the thermostats. Are they mercury switch or digital/programmable? Are there whole-home humidifiers and/or air cleaners? These would typically be attached to the furnace. Are there adequate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors?
You can also request a home energy audit as part of your home inspection that assesses your potential new home's energy consumption and efficiency.
Lastly, Keep Up the HVAC System Maintenance While You Own the Home.
If you're buying a new home, this checklist will help you start off on the right foot. However, your due diligence doesn't stop once the paperwork has been signed. To keep everything in good working order, you'll need to keep up on your Olathe heating and cooling system maintenance. Then, if you decide to sell the house, you'll be able to answer all the same questions that you had when you were the buyer!
To keep your Olathe heating and cooling system running smoothly, Davenport Service Company recommends bi-annual tune-ups and maintenance. Fortunately, our VIP service program takes the guesswork out of HVAC maintenance while also providing you with savings on many of your heating, cooling, and related needs. To learn more or schedule an inspection, call Davenport Service Company at 913-441-2222 today!