Learning About Residential Furnaces

House Hunting? How To Identify Potential Problems With The Air Conditioner

If you're going to be purchasing a pre-existing home, you want to avoid buying someone else's headaches. The best way to do that is to conduct some pre-purchase inspections. If you've decided to forego the professional home inspection, there are still some steps you can take to identify potential problems, especially where the air conditioner is concerned. Here are three steps you need to take to identify potential air conditioner problems.

Exterior Inspection

When you're inspecting the air conditioner on any pre-existing home, you want to start outside. The exterior inspection will allow you to identify issues with overall condition of the air conditioning unit. Here are two things to check.

Stability of Base

If the air conditioner is installed at ground level, you want to look at the stability of the base. If the air conditioner is installed directly on the ground, there's a good chance that the unit will have some moisture-related issues. For maximum protection, ground level air conditioners should be secured to a solid base, such as a concrete pad.

Condition of Coils and Wires

Once you've inspected the base, you'll want to check out the condition of the coils and wires. Don't just do a cursory inspection. Get up close and really look at the wires and coils. Wires should all be intact and coils shouldn't have any signs of visible damage, including dents or mold deposits.

Interior Inspection

After you've looked at the exterior of the air conditioner, you'll need to take your inspection indoors. There are a couple of things you'll want to look at inside the house.

Age of Thermostat

The first thing you'll want to look at is the thermostat. If it's outdated – such as non-programmable – or it shows signs of visible wear and tear, there could be hidden damage that you can't see.

Cleanliness of Vent Covers

After you check the condition of the thermostat, you'll want to take a look at the cleanliness of the vent covers. Dirt or soot marks on the vent covers, or the walls around the covers, are a sign that the ducts need to be cleaned.

Give It a Run Test

Before you end your inspection, you'll want to give the system a trial run. Turn the air conditioner on and check it out.

Speed of Ignition

When you turn the air conditioner on, time how long it takes for the system to ignite. If the air conditioner is working properly, there shouldn't be much of a delay.

Cycle Length

You'll also want to pay attention to a full cycle. If the air conditioner cycles on and off frequently, there could be a serious problem.

If you're in the market for a home, don't forget to inspect the air conditioner before you buy. For questions or concerns, you should have the system inspected by an AC repair technician prior to purchasing any home.


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