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9 Things Homeowners Should Know About Their HVAC System

It’s no surprise that people moving to a new house often look to cosmetic details like flooring, cabinets, and fresh paint when trying to make their new house feel like home. Surprisingly, the HVAC system is often overlooked even though it is a major feature of the house that tends to be the source of the most frustration after you’ve been settled in for a while.

Don’t be the homeowner that overlooks important interior systems as you focus solely on the cosmetic exterior. The following list is compiled of 9 things that all homeowners should know about their HVAC system before purchasing a new house.

The Two D’s: Design & Ductwork

If the house’s ducts aren’t sized and balanced correctly then your system will fail at making the home comfortable. Externally insulated round ducts are among the most efficient while long sections of flex-duct are the least efficient. If you don’t know the difference between the two, ask your home inspector during a walk-through.

Air Balancing Should Be in the Ductwork

Balancing the dampers at the room’s diffuser grille is the loudest and worst place to do it. Dampers should be installed and balanced by a professional who knows that it should be done a ways away from the diffuser grilles.

The Charge

HVAC systems are charged with something called refrigerant – a liquid substance used in the cooling process. There is a certain type of refrigerant called R-22 that was found to be dangerous to the environment, resulting in it being ordered to be phased out by the year 2015. Check to see if the system in your new home uses R-22. If it does, the refrigerant will be expensive to replace if there are any leaks or re-charges required over time.


Most residential HVAC systems use a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating to determine their efficiency. Right now, the minimum SEER rating for newly manufactured residential units is 14. Think of SEER as miles per gallon; the more efficient your unit is, the less energy it will take to operate it thus lowering your energy bills.

Where is the Indoor Unit?

Unless special design precautions were taken when it was installed, furnaces mounted in the attic will eventually leak and cause damage to the ceiling or surrounding structures. Furnaces that are mounted in first-floor level closets or garages are less likely to cause damage over the years.

Where is the Outdoor Unit?

Among the worst places to have your outdoor unit include: outside a bedroom window (due to noise), close to the ground (due to water damage in flood-prone areas), underneath a roof with no gutters (also due to water damage).

Coil Type

Condenser coils made of a singular metal like aluminum or copper tend to last longer and hold their efficiency better over time. This is especially true in corrosive environments like beaches.

Consider a Filter Dryer

If the unit in your new home doesn’t have one, consider calling a technician to install a filter dryer. Filter dryers in an air conditioner’s liquid line are a great way to extend the compressors life expectancy by eliminating moisture and grit.

Changing the Air Filter

Since it should be changed every month or two, the air filter should be placed in a spot where it is convenient for the homeowner to get to. Air filters are one of the few maintenance items homeowners can do themselves when it comes to HVAC so it should be easy and convenient to do so.

Buying a new home can be stressful and there is so much to oversee that things can fall through the cracks. Don’t let your home’s HVAC system be an oversight; take the time to ask the right questions now to prevent big headaches in the future.