There have been many heroes throughout the course of American history, but ask a homeowner in the midst of a summer heatwave to name the greatest of them all and there can be only one answer: Willis Carrier, the inventor of the first modern air conditioner.
Carrier’s creation in 1902 changed the way we live. When the temperature soars to 90 degrees, we take comfort in knowing we can escape to our well-regulated caves, free from perspiration and, in many cases, summer allergies. While you may feel the comfortable indoor air while viewing a listing, it’s important to remember that there are still a lot of things that can go wrong with a cooling system—many of which require a trained professional to identify.
That’s why it’s critical for home-shoppers to hire another kind of hero—a certified home inspector, like those at A-Pro Home Inspection, to do a checkup of the building’s cooling system before buying. Since 1994, the team at A-Pro has performed tens of thousands of foundation-to-roof inspections which include a visual and operational (when possible) assessment of the cooling system and its accessible components.
Your home inspector will be looking at a range of issues that affect the lifespan and effectiveness of an air conditioning system or heat pump. Here are just a few:
Description of Energy Source: Is the cooling system run by 120V power, 240V power, or gas?
System Type: The inspector will note whether it’s an air-cooled or water-cooled central system, air-source heat pump, ground-source heat pump, water-source heat pump, air-cooled independent system, or evaporator cooler.
Manufacturer: What company made the system? What is the manufacture date, model number, serial number, and estimated remaining life of the equipment?
System Performance: Does the system turn on? Does it show signs of neglect? Is there an excessive or insufficient change in temperature when operated? Is the air filter dirty? What is the condition of the refrigerant lines?
Checking Outside: Is the condenser/compressor not level or poorly attached? Are the fins damaged (e.g., bent or broken) or showing signs of premature aging? Are fins clogged with dirt and debris? Is the outdoor unit unusually noisy? Does it emit an odor? Is there excessive vegetation too close to the unit? Is the outside air-cooled A/C condenser far enough away from the house, deck, or porch to allow for sufficient airflow?
Checking Inside: Are components dirty and corroded? Does the condensate tray leak? Are there signs of prior condensate leakage? Is the condensate line blocked? Is the condensate discharge in an improper location? Is a condensate trap or drip pan needed? Does the condensate pump work? Is there water in the overflow pan? What is the condition of the auxiliary drain pan?
What about Cold Weather Inspections?
Your inspector will operate the cooling system unless it is determined that low ambient temperatures in the home may cause damage to equipment, or if the condition of the unit makes it unsafe to run. In this
case, the inspector will perform a visual inspection only. Further, inspectors are not required to inspect window units and electronic air filters or determine cooling system supply or balance.