View Full Version : Home Inspection: Course of Action
05-04-2007, 05:18 PM
My wife and I are going through the home buying process for the first time and I have stumbled into an area I have not researched very throughly... yet.;)
I would appreciate your option...
We have made an offer on a home in Lexington, KY and as such had the home inspected. The home is a 1 year old single level ranch on slab with vaulted ceilings and 1413 total sq feet. The heating-cooling system is a HVAC system. The following specs were in the inspector's report...
Size: 2 ton
Visual condition: Good
Condenser unit: Acceptable
Suction line insulation: Acceptable
Temperature Differential: 10-11 degree drop across coil (normal 15-20)
-Was not able to access the AC function do to mild weather.
Concerns: Unit may be undersized, consult HVAC specialist. Unit appears to be operating sub-optimally, correction recommended. Insulation needs to be cleared from overflow pan in attic, caulking pulled loose from refrigeration line
The home has little shade (young neighborhood) and the outdoor component is on the SE side of the house.
So my questions:
1) What do you think about the size of the unit? Will I be freezing in the winter and sweating in the summer?
2) I agree that consulting a HVAC specialist would be a good idea, but what should I ask them to do? Manual J? How would the price of this compare to a general home inspection?
3) Is this the kind of thing that would make you walk away from this house if they are not willing to upgrade/supplement?
4) Any other course of action I should take?
Thanks for any advice you might have ,
You need to call a qualified technician to (among other things) put gauges on the unit and determine if there's a problem.
A home inspector can not properly asses a heatpump or standard A/C.
Depending on your climate, a 2-ton unit may or may not be properly sized. Temperature drop across the coil varies depending on operating conditions; only wet-bulb temperature readings which take total enthalpy into consideration are valid.
[quote]3) Is this the kind of thing that would make you walk away from this house if they are not willing to upgrade/supplement?[/quote[
A 1-year old unit is inexpensive to service and repair compared to the cost of the house. It's your call.
05-04-2007, 05:56 PM
Home inspectors should defer all HVAC evaluation to a competent HVAC pro. No HVAC pro would bother assessing a system's cooling performance when weather is "mild" (i.e. no indoor cooling required).
A Manual J would tell you what the heat gain and loss values are for the structure. Typically a Manual J is done for HVAC system design or replacement vs. a home purchase. If you're waffling on buying the house, the Manual J calc would be money out of your pocket on top of the home inspection. A one year old house...unlikely present owners will pop for upgrading the system if it somehow arose a capacity increase was warranted. Age of house also would generally suggest it has better construction methods in place (energy efficient windows, exterior house wrap, etc) than an equivalently sized ranch house built, say, 20 years ago, unless the builder was exceptionally sloppy (which can happen with certain builders, for sure) and the house leaks air like a sieve and the insulation work is poor.
I don't see it as a deal killer, personally, but I can't see the house from here. If it still eats at you, hire an HVAC pro to do a performance evaluation on the system. If he knows his stuff he'll tell you if it's up to snuff or not. Wait for a good warm day to do it unless you think someone's about to put in an offer ahead of you (I wish the market here was that good, if it is there...I'm trying to sell a house right now and the market where it sits STINKS!)
05-04-2007, 10:08 PM
The first house I bought had a 2-ton unit in a home which needed a 3-ton. The house never heated well, ran all the time to cool it and the condensation killed a huge section of my lawn. I was never comfortable in the house. This was all before I was in this business. Obviously, my electric bill was higher than it should have been as well.
Based on that experience and what I now know, I would be very hesitant to buy a house if the system is legitimately undersized. If your system has a problem, but is sized properly, then repairs can be made. If it is undersized, you will have to decide if potentially being uncomfortable is worth it. You might think so now, but a year or two from now end up spending a ton of $ to replace it and modify/replace the ductwork.
Question is, how bad do you want the house. If you really want it, I'd spend the cash to hire a professional to do a thorough evaluation. Then again, I am of the belief that a prospective home buyer should pay to have their own company inspect a system, regardless of any home inspection. I don't know how many times I have had homeowners and even realtors try to get our company to leave leaks in coils and other problems out of the paperwork after inspecting a system on a house for sale. The old axiom "buyer beware" is definitely appropriate.
05-05-2007, 07:51 AM
you can look at equip & ducts -- are they insulated?
turn on blower -- feel any leaks of air?
run the load calc here --
ask the seller who installed, ask that contractor for load calculation --
house sealed good?
shades| blinds on all windows?
how much insulation in attic? in walls?
05-06-2007, 01:41 AM
Home inspectors should defer all HVAC evaluation to a competent HVAC pro.
Amen to this... The home I recently bought had a home inspection. The home inspector didn't find anything major wrong with the AC nor the installation. I was in a hurry, out of town for most of the time and didn't give it a good detailed inspection. Fast forward a few months and I'm putting in a totally new system, including ductwork, grilles, etc. I wish I had called a competent HVAC contractor to inspect and assess the system ahead of time, as this could have been a serious leveraging tool.
05-06-2007, 02:31 PM
Get a load calculation done. If the system is undersized, get some estimates for replacing the HVAC & use those quotes to negotiate a lower price for the house. Then buy the house and replace the system with the contractor & eqpt. you like. Even if the current owner is willing to replace the system prior to sale, he might put in the cheapest one he can find.
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