With winter about to begin with a vengeance, some of the most worrisome items that might show up on an inspection report include those related to the systems that keep you warm and cozy at home. Especially this time of year, you don’t want heating problems.
That’s true whether you hired an inspector to help evaluate your home being buying or to help you figure out what kinds of repairs might add value to your home before putting it up for sale. Keep in mind, though, that many of the items flagged on inspection reports are related to routine maintenance – or the lack thereof – or to minor problems that can be easily remedied.
Common Minor Heating System Issues
Minor issues may include such things as dirty air filters on a heating pump system that compromise performance and force the unit to work harder.
• The pilot light on a gas-fired furnace may have gone out, and in that case you’ll want to contact your gas company and have them send out someone to reignite it.
• A radiator and boiler system may need annual maintenance including draining the old water or repairing faulty valves on individual radiators.
• A heating system could be inoperative because of something as basic as a broken thermostat, too, or the registers that open up to let heat into your home from the ductwork may be stuck, blocked, or in need of repair or replacement.
• More serious issues may be related to a lack of safe, adequate ventilation of dangerous gases that are the byproduct of heating units including space heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces.
• The inspector may also recommend that a furnace be checked to ensure that the heat exchanger or other major components are in proper working order.
• If duct work is not properly installed, that can be a red flag. The same goes for chimneys that are not properly installed or insulated away from flammable materials like wall studs.
What to Do Next
There are a number of other issues that could show up on an inspection report, because there are many different types of heating systems and they each have multiple components.
But virtually anything that the inspector finds can be carefully investigated and properly addressed by a qualified contractor. So study the report, ask any questions needed to get clarification, and then follow the inspector’s suggestions.
In most cases you’ll be advised to contact a qualified HVAC professional and have them come to the property and take a closer look. If you have a wood-burning fireplace you may need to call a chimney sweep or a masonry contractor who specializes in fireplaces.
Keep in mind the scope of a typical home inspection may not cover an in-depth investigation of components such as furnaces and chimneys. That’s why many times the report will recommend that you seek help from a qualified professional who is trained to evaluate those kinds of issues.
After the Contractors Come
If repairs are warranted, the buyer and seller need to decide whether they need to be done prior to closing or whether they can be postponed. They will also need to negotiate regarding any costs related to consultation with the HVAC expert or any repairs that are necessary. Normally either the buyer will pay them or they will give a discount to the seller to offset that expense, unless both parties agree to another financial arrangement.
If the mortgage company, for example, finds that the heating system is inoperative then you will most likely be required to fix it before they will approve and fund the loan. But if it is a relatively minor issue then you may prefer to take care of it later in order to facilitate a faster closing with no annoying delays.