Buying a pre-owned home means you could be purchasing a property with hidden problems. Before you buy, it’s important to assess the property’s condition and have it inspected. Here are the top four things you need to consider about the home’s air conditioning systems before purchasing the property.

The System’s Age

On average, an air conditioning system will last for 10 to 15 years, if properly installed and maintained. Your real estate agent should have some information on the system’s age. If not, you can usually find a manufacturing date somewhere on the equipment. It’s safe to assume that the equipment was installed within a year of the manufacturing date.

If the system is over 15 years old, you will need to replace it within a few years. You might extend its life with proper maintenance and making repairs. However, it’s only a matter of time before you need to invest in a new system.

If the air conditioner is over 10 years old, you might want to upgrade it for a more energy-efficient system. The system should have a yellow energy label on it, which states the energy efficiency rating as well as operating costs. Today’s Energy Star rated air conditioners have a SEER rating of 15 or higher.

Its Maintenance and Repair History

The current homeowner should have some record of how often the system has been serviced and if it has needed any repairs. If not, some HVAC technicians will post service sheets on the inside unit that outline the work done on a given visit. Check for those.

Routine maintenance done by professionals in air conditioning services can extend the life of any cooling system. It keeps the system running efficiently and identifies any minor issues before they become major repairs. If the system has needed more than a few repairs, the air conditioner may be reaching the end of its serviceable life. You would need to replace it sooner rather than later.

Comfort Level in Different Rooms

As you walk through the house, assess the comfort level in each room. A properly sized and well-maintained air conditioner will keep rooms throughout the house at a comfortable level. Here are a couple of common issues the technicians at LBA Air Conditioning Heating & Plumbing encounter:

One floor stays hotter during the day. You may find that the lower levels of the home are cooler than the upper floors. The system may be running off of a thermostat on the lower level, not the upper ones. There could also be leaks somewhere in the ducts running to the upper floor. The attic insulation may also be inadequate, allowing heat to get into the upper floors.

Certain rooms stay warmer than others. You may find one or two rooms are too warm, while the rest of the house is comfortable. There may be leaking in the ductwork or that the system is not powerful enough to push cooled air to the rooms furthest from the air handler.

Air leaks in ductwork are quite common in older homes. Ducts over 10 years old may have cracks along the seams or may have pulled away from the vents. When you have the home inspected, be sure to have the inspector take a look at the ductwork. Repairing ductwork is not expensive, but it is an extra cost to consider.

An undersized air conditioner is also common. If the house has had an extension added, the air conditioner may not be capable of dealing with the extra square footage. The entire system may need to be replaced. It’s something to ask the technician when you schedule an inspection.

The System’s Condition

When you are doing an initial walkthrough of the home, take a few moments to inspect the air conditioning equipment itself. Its appearance and noise can tell you a lot about its condition. Consider the following questions: Does the system look well-maintained or is it covered in dust and cobwebs? Does it make odd noises? Is the system turning on for a couple of minutes and shutting off, then doing it again a few minutes later? Is the outside unit covered in yard debris or surrounded by weeds?

A home is a major purchase for most people. Taking the time to assess the home’s a/c system is vitally important so you don’t get hit with any surprises after the sale. Before you buy, make sure you get an inspection of conditioner by a qualified HVAC technician.