Realtors typically recommend a home inspection prior to closing on a new home. The home inspection uncovers most of the obvious flaws, like cracks in the foundation, water damage, or broken electrical systems.
But home inspections have some limitations. Your inspector has to cover a lot of ground in a short time. Plumbing, engineering, HVAC, structural, exterior, and interior issues are all touched upon, but the inspector can’t always be as thorough as a homebuyer might like. In some cases, it’s definitely worth your time and money to hire an HVAC expert.
What the Home Inspection Covers
Hints of trouble may be uncovered during a conventional home inspection, but less obvious issues like inadequate insulation or ventilation are harder to find. Many home inspection reports include suggestions that a buyer “consult an expert for further evaluation.” When it comes to the HVAC system, don’t ignore this wise advice!
A home inspector can look for some symptoms of trouble, but he or she is limited by both time and skill set. Inspectors are generalists, not experts. Usually, a home inspection doesn’t look at compliance with state or local codes, which are especially important for HVAC. And even the most experienced inspector can’t see through the walls or floors. A typical home inspection is non-invasive, so problems with ducts or other HVAC issues may be missed.
What the Home Inspection Misses
You might be surprised to find out just how limited your home inspection is. Like your kids, your home inspector is not supposed to touch the thermostat. Here are a few other things your inspector does not have to do:
- Inspect or evaluate your chimney, heat exchanger, humidifiers, geothermal system, or solar heating system.
- Determine if the heating system is adequate for the size of your home.
- Check the pilot flames.
- Verify that your thermostats are properly calibrated.
- Determine if the ventilation is adequate.
- Operate the system if the temperature outside is less than 65 degrees.
- Examine coolant fluids or gases.
Why You Need an Expert
In Raleigh, a home inspection costs an average of $353. Wilmington is slightly less pricey, costing an average of $311. While you may be reluctant to shell out even more money amidst the closing costs, lawyer fees, and down payment, hiring an HVAC expert will be worth your while in the long run.
An expert can tell you more than whether or not the HVAC system is functioning. The HVAC technician will be able to see how well a system has been maintained – a good predictor of future problems. Unlike the general home inspector, an HVAC tech can check for refrigerant leaks and ductwork issues, saving you some seriously costly repairs in the future.
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you can make. Reluctant to spend extra on an HVAC home inspection? The peace of mind will be worth it. It’s much better to ask the seller to repair or replace a system before you close than to have your HVAC break down months after you move in.