Understanding a home HVAC system is extremely important for a first time Rockville home buyer. Going into the home buying process with a working understanding of a home HVAC system will help you ensure you are not stepping into a web of unexpected and unplanned hidden costs.

If you are in the market for a new home, one of the top things to consider is the age and the quality of the home HVAC system. A system that is close to the end of its life expectancy is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode creating unforeseen expenses in service repairs (or replacement costs). So what are the things you need to be looking for while house hunting? Here are three areas to consider when shopping for a new home:

Home HVAC System Visual Inspection

A starting point is a quick visual inspection of the outdoor HVAC unit. Do you see water marks? Signs of decay like rusting? In addition to what you see, pay attention to what you hear. Listen to the unit running and should you hear any strange noises or loud operation, it could indicate broken components, faulty installation or simply a sign of old age.

Have your real estate agent ask the home owner for maintenance records. You can glean a lot of critical information from those records. Has the unit had appropriate preventative maintenance? Has the home HVAC system had repeat service calls for the same issue? What is the exact age of the unit? A system that is more than a decade old is approaching the end of its expected life. If you are definitely interested in the home, consider discussing replacement options with your REALTOR. It could be a negotiating point for a lower selling price or replacement before purchase.

As you go through the house, pay attention to comfort in each room. Do any of the rooms appear to be hotter or colder than the others? This may be a telling sign that insulation in the home is lacking. Insulation is a key component of the home’s ability to keep inside air inside and outside air outside. Insulation upgrades can potentially be a costly issue. Inconsistent comfort in the home could also be the direct result of damaged air ducts.

Another visual inspection you will want to make is to check the condition of the air ducts. Inspect for loose connection of the ducts, rust, condensation, holes or gaps in the ducts. Issues with air ducts are easily corrected and are not a huge cost repair project, unlike replacing an HVAC unit.

Buying a Rockville home is a huge investment and like with other investments, you always want to make a wise decision. Knowing what to be on the lookout for in the process can help you avoid potential surprises and unexpected costs after closing on your home.