Homeowners guide to HVAC inspections

hvac-inspection

 

An HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) is the backbone of a modern-day home. It plays a significant role in indoor air quality maintenance and keeping your family comfortable.

According to research by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bad air quality was a large factor in sickness caused due to the environment — but a well-functioning HVAC system can help avoid this problem.

From circulating the air and regulating the temperature to removing toxic gasses or particles from the air inside your home, HVAC systems are feature-rich — and these features help prevent seasonal flu, allergies and other lung-related ailments.

For that reason, HVAC equipment needs to stay in tiptop shape to ensure you get good quality air throughout the year. 

Consider this article a one-stop guide for everything you need to know about HVAC inspection and other frequently asked questions. 

 

What HVAC components are checked during an inspection?

An HVAC home inspection is a comprehensive evaluation of all the working components of a home's heating and cooling systems.

A licensed HVAC technician examines the HVAC system to determine the equipment's life span and condition, the hygiene factors of each component, the functioning of each component, and other safety mechanisms.

Let’s look at how the air conditioning system, heating system, ductwork, filters and electrical components of your HVAC are inspected.

Air conditioning system

An efficient A/C unit keeps humidity at bay and reduces exposure to allergens and dust mites. It creates a cool and regulated environment with the help of ducts. An HVAC inspection covers all the components and parts of ducted central electric split and package units, mini splits, wall A/C units and geothermal units. 

Here’s an HVAC inspection checklist for your A/C unit:

  • Blower motor (measure amperage and voltage)
  • Thermostat (check whether it’s properly calibrated and leveled)
  • Bearing (inspected for normal wear and tear, and check for lubrication too)
  • Indoor coil and condenser coil
  • Condensate drain (check whether it needs to be properly flushed and treated with anti-algae)
  • Refrigerant (examine the operating pressures)
  • Capacitors, fan blades and electrical wiring
  • Valve functioning
  • Temperature difference in supply or return
  • Compressor (amperage, volt draw and wiring connections)

Heating system

Heating systems are must-haves in winter to live comfortably in colder environments. An HVAC inspection covers all components and parts of forced air (be it gas, electric or oil), floor furnaces, hot-water or steam-circulating electric and heated baseboard, package units, heat pumps, mini splits and wall-mounted heaters. 

Here’s an HVAC inspection checklist for your heating system:

  • Heat exchanger (for example, the coils)
  • Soot buildup in the internal area
  • Dirt buildup or clogging in the air filters
  • Furnace (whether it is firing properly)
  • Thermostat (if the temperature is well-adjusted)

Additionally, the HVAC technician will have to examine other components too, if needed. For example, check whether the moving parts are properly lubricated.

Ductwork

If you have a forced air heating and cooling system installed inside the home, it’s easy to blame the heating and cooling units when there is an issue. If the thermostat doesn’t function properly on a cold day and your room doesn’t warm up as it should, you might think the furnace is faulty. 

However, the issue may be somewhere else, like the ductwork. Ductwork supplies air properly throughout the home. However, problems may arise, and the ductwork needs to be properly inspected. 

Here’s what the HVAC technician needs to inspect:

  • Accumulation of dirt and debris inside the ductwork
  • Lose seals or if the tape is falling off
  • Damage within the ducts, like biological growth

Electrical components and systems

HVAC technicians have the know-how to install, maintain and repair the electrical components and electrical connections related to HVAC systems. 

When it comes to inspections, here’s what needs to be checked:

  • Direct current wiring
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Built-in exhaust, vent or attic fans

Additional inspection checklist:

  • Wiring problems. Fraying, corrosion and disconnection are common wiring problems. Such issues typically occur when something obstructs the flow of energy. Due to this, other system components have to work harder, which can lead to breakdowns and other non-electrical problems. 
  • Faults in the compressor. A compressor is probably the most expensive part of an HVAC system. If it pulls heat in an extreme range, like too little or too much, it may lead to overheating and mechanical failures.
  • Flawed connections. When connections in your HVAC systems are poor, then an HVAC contractor needs to inspect them thoroughly and tighten them.
  • Issues in the circuit breaker. A blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker can hamper your air conditioner or heating system’s functioning. Secondly, this may indicate that your HVAC system uses too much energy.

HVAC filters

HVAC filters are an essential component of your heating and cooling units, yet they are easy to forget. They are installed to protect your systems from airborne particles or dust, thus increasing the system’s longevity and efficiency. Getting your HVAC filters inspected regularly can prevent major repairs in the future. Replacing the air filter in your HVAC system is inexpensive and quick to do. 

An HVAC technician needs to check if there is any accumulation of dust and dirt around vents or if the filters are clogged. 

Sometimes, the A/C unit can generate more heat than it should. While the reasons for that could be plenty, a clogged HVAC filter could be one of them. 

Overall safety and efficiency tests

HVAC inspections are conducted to ensure your home’s safety and to examine whether the furnace and the A/C unit meet the current needs of your home — most importantly, your comfort.

The efficiency of an HVAC unit depends on its condition, quality of installation, and the size of the appliances installed. When your HVAC system is in bad condition, it has to function harder to keep you comfortable; this, in turn, takes more energy and increases energy bills.

An HVAC inspection will look into areas that need to be cleaned, repaired or even replaced. Here is a list of common checks your HVAC technician should perform during an HVAC tuneup:

  • Coolant pressure, thermostat calibration and condensate drain checks
  • Electrical system inspection, like tightening the wires, capacitors and relays
  • Heat exchangers, like the evaporator coil or condenser coil
  • Outdoor disconnect, and fan motor and blades

Lubrication can also be needed in specific components of the system along with additional safety checks if the technician deems them necessary.

 

How often should you have your HVAC system inspected?

As seasons change, you start wondering if it’s the right time to get your HVAC appliances cleaned and serviced.

Here’s the golden rule: Get your HVAC systems (including heating and the cooling systems) inspected once every year. However, you can choose to get them inspected at different times. But if you smell trouble, it's best to call an HVAC technician right away. 

Also, if your HVAC system’s life cycle is about to end, it would be a good idea to upgrade. Yes, investing in a new unit may be expensive, but the investment can save you considerable money and time.

Today, new appliances come with upgraded features and are much more efficient than systems 10 to 15 years old. Moreover, they are optimized to use less energy.

What time of year should you have your HVAC inspected?

Heating and air conditioning appliances, no matter what brand or how old, must be inspected at least once every year. 

If you’re looking at the best time of the year to get them checked, heating systems are best inspected in fall, and air conditioning appliances are best inspected during springtime. 

As a good practice, schedule service for heating equipment that burns diesel fuel, heating oils, or similar fuels annually.

Generally, HVAC systems do come with warranties that require mandatory servicing. In case these inspections are skipped or neglected altogether, there is a chance you might violate the warranty. An unserviced system can lose its efficiency, which, in turn, can reduce its life span.

Other situations when you should have your HVAC system inspected

  • Homebuying process. It’s important to inspect your HVAC systems during the homebuying process. While a general home inspector will quickly scan an HVAC system just to confirm it’s working, it’s worth going for an in-depth HVAC system inspection to be 100% sure. Since replacing HVAC systems is expensive, you will want to be aware of any problems before you sign the contract when buying a home. However, it is worth noting that HVAC inspections during the homebuying process may be a bit more costly than standard HVAC inspections because they are more thorough. Likewise, the pricing of such inspections can vary depending on the size of your home.
  • Poor air quality. Lastly, when you sense there is an issue with the system, or if the air quality is poor or has been reduced, it’s best to get your HVAC inspected.

 

How much does an HVAC inspection cost?

A standard HVAC inspection will typically cost you anywhere between $200 to $500. Prices fluctuate with respect to the home size, equipment that needs inspection, and the kind of service provided.

Can you do an HVAC inspection yourself?

Yes, it’s possible to inspect the components of the system yourself if you love to DIY and understand the ins and outs of HVAC systems well.

However, HVAC problems are best inspected by proper HVAC professionals from a reputable HVAC company because they will likely have special tools and the know-how to test the system and examine it more accurately or in-depth. 

Also, if your HVAC system does have a warranty, the warranty won’t cover damage done by improper maintenance.

Is a professional HVAC inspection worth it?

Yes, a professional inspection can give you the peace of mind that your HVAC system has been fully analyzed for performance, reliability and durability.

While a small cost is attached to an HVAC service or inspection, you also enjoy many benefits in return. For instance, you can prevent expensive emergency repairs.

Below are the benefits of getting an HVAC inspection:

  • Save on energy bills. Properly working HVAC equipment can save you money on your energy bills and maintain your energy efficiency. When you regularly inspect your cooling and heating systems, you can make the right tuneups at the right time, ensuring your installed systems operate at their peak efficiency and you don’t have to pay more for energy than you already are.
  • Prevent emergency repairs. Costly surprise appliance breakdowns can be a nightmare. Frequent HVAC inspections and maintenance are your top defenses against pricey emergency repairs. Eluding diagnosis can snowball into a more difficult situation and cost you more than just repairs. Routine checkups can avoid equipment failure when you need it most.

Modern-day HVAC appliances are designed to last between 10 to 25 years. However, that life span can only be accomplished when you perform regular maintenance.

Instead of being bogged down by an extensive repair, you will be well aware of the status of your system and can conduct minor repairs as required. For instance, removing a faulty wire is much more affordable before it forces a blower motor to short.

 

Avoid costly HVAC repair bills with Cinch

An HVAC system is an indispensable part of your home. Regular maintenance, inspections and repairs ensure you can enjoy uninterrupted HVAC use. In addition, you can also help prevent surprise breakdowns in the future. 

Our Cinch Home Services protection plan options provide repair and replacement coverage for A/C units, heating systems, electrical systems and ductwork. With Cinch, you get benefits like a 180-day workmanship guarantee, protection for unknown pre-existing conditions, rust and corrosion coverage, and discounts on new appliances. Additionally, a Built-in Systems plan from Cinch Home Services can help cover the costs of unexpected HVAC repairs. 

Take the first step in safeguarding your HVAC systems and appliances. Get a quote today!

 

Are you a homeowner? Learn everything you need to know about having your HVAC inspected.