When buying or selling a home you generally will want to hire an inspector to assess the general condition of the property and buildings before closing. In other blog posts I’ve gone over that process, so this post is more about this common language you’ll see in the report.
As a buyer it is important to know the condition of the home mechanicals which generally includes the furnace – heating / AC units, water heater, and possibly water softener and other water conditioning systems. Often the inspector will check any included appliances but mostly that is to determine if they work or not. Items such as furnaces, AC units, and water heaters will have a manufacturer’s tag that includes specifics on the unit and when it was manufactured. At some point manufactures came up with standards on how long the purchaser should expect their product to function under normal usage. Thus they came up with the “Industry Standard Useful Life”.
Now the truth is that it is only a vague guideline and is not how you determine a unit is close to failure. But we’ve often seen buyers panic when they see that term used in the inspection report referring to the units in the home they are purchasing. What is more important to look at is the general condition of the units which lets you know the owner regularly serviced them. Good maintenance can extend the useful life, in some cases doubling the lifespan or more. With heating / furnaces it’s important that depending on the type some need a lot more maintenance than others. Any furnace or heating system that uses combustibles as the heat source, (gas, oil, propane, etc.) should be serviced regularly as the use of those products can cause corrosion from the fumes and moisture from the fuel itself. An ‘All electric’ heating system on the other hand just needs an occasional cleaning and if a heat pump a check on the refrigerant level. So the important factor that the inspector needs to determine is has the unit been serviced. Same pretty much goes with the water heater as they can last a long time if serviced properly.
As a buyer you want to pay more attention to how the seller has taken care of the mechanicals and not how old the systems are. If they are old and worry you we often recommend having the seller pay for a 1 year home warranty, just in case something is nearing the end. Often a change in how the unit is used with new owners will cause it to fail so the warranty will cover the buyer in that case as well. Probably the main item of note if a system is old is that newer systems are more efficient, so your utility bills might be slightly higher than with newer systems.
As a seller we always recommend you have your mechanicals serviced before you go on the market. Any time an inspector sees that the system has recently been serviced by a professional they will know it should be in good working order. And if you’ve been doing that regularly that just makes it look better for your potential buyers.
Have questions on what you need to do to get your home ready to sell? Don’t hesitate to call The Derrick Team about your mechanical systems or any other questions you might have at 317-563-1110. Or send us a message here.