What To Inspect Before You Purchase Your New Home

Air Dynamics HVAC | #AirDynamicsCares | New Home Checklist

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Air Dynamics HVAC | New Home Inspection Checklist

Congratulations! You’ve finally found the perfect home, and you can’t wait to sign those papers and officially become a new homeowner. But, before you put that pen to paper there are some important areas of your new home that you should take the time to properly inspect. Especially if you haven’t done so already. After all, purchasing a home is a huge commitment; that will require regular upkeep and maintenance. So, it’s always prudent to know what you’re getting into before you purchase. To help make sure the home you’re considering is move-in ready we have put together our handy New Home Inspection Checklist.

Take a Drive By at Night

Considering all of the chaos that comes with searching for your perfect home, it’s easy to forget to check out your prospective neighborhood before you buy. Settling into your new home to find that you have noisy neighbors who are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep is certainly less than ideal.

Everyone enjoys having a little peace and quiet in their lives, your new home should be no exception

That’s why Air Dynamics HVAC recommends taking a drive by at different hours throughout the day and night. This will give you a good idea of the general activity on your street, late-night traffic, and whether or not they may present a nuisance to you once you move in.

Check Those Appliances

While it’s definitely exciting to see newer appliances in a home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they all work as they should. Part of your new home inspection checklist should include testing all appliances yourself. Even if the home inspector has already stopped by. This will help to ensure that your new home is move-in ready by identifying any appliance issues before you settle in and unpack.

Don’t forget to check your new home’s washer/dryer, refrigerator, stove, vent hood, dishwasher, and sink disposal if you have one

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Check The HVAC System

Have you taken a moment to look at the HVAC System in your new home yet? If not, now is the time to do so. During your check, don’t forget to take note of the age of your HVAC unit(s). On average a well-maintained system can last anywhere from 10-25 years.

However, the the US Department of Energy recommends a replacement every 10-15 years for most homeowners. This is because energy efficiency has drastically improved in the design of newer HVAC systems & upgrading when needed can easily help to reduce your home’s overall energy usage.

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Replacing an older HVAC unit with a newer more energy-efficient model will have a positive impact on your energy bill.

Putting more money back into your pocket each month

To see if your new home’s HVAC system may have underlying issues, you should test your unit in both heating and cooling modes. Once the system is up and running, check for airflow through the vents and pay close attention to any unusual odors. Look for leaks in and around your A/C unit and listen for any unusual noises.

If you’re not sure what to look for or have found any reason for concern contact an HVAC professional like the ones at Air Dynamics HVAC right away. A qualified professional can give your system a full checkup and identify any underlying issues that should be addressed, or inform you if the system is in need of maintenance or replacement.

Test the Thermostat

Your thermostat is your direct line of communication to your HVAC system. It ensures that your home’s climate is comfortable year-round. Finding out that your thermostat isn’t working properly after unpacking can be a major letdown.

Most thermostats will last an average of 10 years. If your thermostat is older or not responding correctly it may be time to consider a replacement

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You can test the functionality of your thermostat by first checking to see if the temperature reading is correct using a portable indoor thermometer. Some other signs to look for when checking the functionality of your thermostat include whether or not the thermostat is properly turning your HVAC system off/on and checking for error codes on newer digital versions. As with any system, eventually, your thermostat will need replacing. Don’t fret just yet though as most thermostats will last an average of 10 years. If your thermostat is older or not responding correctly it may be time to consider a replacement.

Test Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

As a homeowner, it’s important to remember to test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms every month. This will ensure they are in working order should an emergency occur. Taking a minute out of your busy day to do so, may just save your life. At Air Dynamics, we care about our customers and their health. Which, is why we implore you not to skip this important step on your new home inspection checklist. Need to know more about carbon monoxide detector placement? Check out our blog post on the Importance of Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement for helpful information.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, nausea, weakness, dizziness, and vomiting. More serious symptoms can include seizures, visual disturbances, disorientation, confusion & loss of consciousness. If you suspect the presence of carbon monoxide in your home, don’t wait! Immediately open all windows/doors, then turn off your (gas) stove, HVAC system, and water heater. Leave your home and call your local fire department right away.

If your fire department suspects there are or were dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in your home call a professional from Air Dynamics HVAC to have the air in your home tested for unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. Our technicians, are specially trained to help you identify the cause of your issue and the steps needed to rectify the source of the problem.

Take a Peek at the Electrical Panel

It’s no secret, that your new home’s inspection should include an electrical review by a licensed home inspector. However, that inspection doesn’t necessarily cover everything. As part of your own home inspection checklist, you should review the overall condition of your electrical panel.

Some older electrical panels have since been recalled or are now considered to be unsafe. These include major brands like Challenger (Eaton/Cutler Hammer), Pushmatic, Zinsco & Federal Pacific Electric (FPE)

Generally speaking, your electrical panel should be neat and organized with each wire and its connection clearly marked. A messy electrical panel could indicate poor workmanship or unsafe conditions. It’s also important to note that some older electrical panels have since been recalled or are now considered to be unsafe. These include major brands like Challenger (Eaton/Cutler Hammer), Pushmatic, Zinsco & Federal Pacific Electric (FPE).

Test the Outlets

As you go through your final walkthrough, it’s important to remember to test the outlets as part of your new home inspection checklist. If you haven’t done so already, look for loose/missing/broken plates, scorch marks, and any hanging wires. These are all signs of potentially unsafe electrical conditions that should be addressed by a professional before you move in.

Bring along a phone charger or other small plug-in electronic device to properly test all outlets

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Additionally, you should check to be sure that the proper receptacle was installed. This means ensuring your outlets offer a grounding prong. Any outlets located in areas more susceptible to moisture should also be equipped with a built-in GFCI. A GFCI can help to protect against accidental electric shock by quickly cutting off the electricity to that outlet. GFCI’s should be installed in any areas that have outlets in close proximity to water/moisture. Such as the patio, kitchen, laundry room, bathroom(s), etc.

Check Out this helpful video from Green Residential on how to test GFCI outlets in your home.

GFCI outlets work by monitoring the current traveling from the electronic device/appliance to the outlet. If the GFCI detects a change in current by as lIttle as five milliamps it will automatically cut off the power supply to that outlet. Most newer homes will already have GFCI outlets installed where needed.

These safety outlets have an average lifespan of 10 years and should be tested monthly to ensure they are working properly. So, don’t forget to take a minute to test your GFCI outlets while performing your new home inspection checklist.

Look for Areas Where Leaks Could Occur

It comes as no surprise; there are some areas of a home that are more prone to leaks than others. It also goes without question that a leak has the potential to create mold and mildew. This can not only cause health issues but has the potential to cause damage to your home as well. Putting an unexpected strain on your wallet and bursting that happy new home bubble. It is for this reason that you should pay close attention when checking the condition of areas where potential leaks may occur. Including any windows, garage doors, kitchen, laundry room, bathrooms, attic, basement, patio & sunroom areas.

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Windows, Garage Doors, Kitchens, Laundry Rooms, Bathrooms, Attics, Basements, Patios & Sun Rooms are all areas where potential leaks may occur

Give the outside of your new home the once over as well. If you have any outdoor drains, be sure to check that they are clear of debris and in good working condition. Also, take a quick look at your gutters. Are they in good shape and equipped with proper drainage that leads to the ground and away from the foundation of your home?

Check for Odors and Look for Signs of Mold / Mildew

It’s no secret that mold is serious stuff that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Left unnoticed, It can spread quickly in the damp dark areas of your home. Mold spores won’t just negatively affect your home’s value; they can seriously affect the health of you and your loved ones as well. Especially if they suffer from asthma or other serious health conditions.

Which is why inspecting your new home for mold and mildew is an absolute must. Remember to pay particularly close attention to the bathroom(s) and basement areas. Does your new home’s bathroom offer a window or ventilation fan? If not, you should be aware that this could raise the chances of mold and mildew and may present a problem in the future. Should you find evidence of mold during your inspection that is not easily rectified or covers a large area; it is best to seek out the help of a mold remediation professional.

Mold & Mildew Aren’t Your Only Concerns

But, unsightly mold and mildew aren’t your only concerns when it comes to examining your home’s basement. So how do you know what to look for? At Air Dynamics, we recommend checking the following as part of your new home inspection checklist.

  • Check for signs of previous water accumulation by paying close attention to any cracks, smells, stains or uneven flooring that could indicate a compromised foundation.
  • Take a close look at any basement windows for signs of previous or ongoing water leaks. Be sure to inspect the seal to ensure it is in good condition and does not show signs of cracking.
  • Pay attention to any unusual smells. Most basement odors are caused by mold, mildew, rot or dust mites. Sometimes your nose is your best detective when it comes to locating mold in your home.
  • Humidity levels: Basements are prone to higher humidity which is why it’s important to keep your basement at a lower humidity level. Basements that have high humidity are perfect homes for mold, mildew and rot to occur.
  • Does the basement have a sump pump? Is it in working order?

As a general rule, if it smells musty and damp, there are likely existing moisture issues. If your new home’s basement has a dehumidifier that is moving with the previous owners then you can be sure that you’ll need to buy one too.

Open & Close All Doors & Windows

Don’t wait for your energy bill to skyrocket before you figure out that your windows and doors are in need of repair/replacement. Instead, open and close all windows and doors to be sure they are properly fitted to their frames.

To check for drafts regardless of the season, simply hold a lit candle close to the seams of your window on a breezy day. If the flame of the candle bends, it’s a clear indicator that you have air movement around your window caused by outside air forcing its way into your home.

You work hard for your money! Don’t let drafty windows and doors blow your hard-earned cash away

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If you find that your doors or windows are ill-fitted or are letting air into your home thus preventing you from maintaining a comfortable temperature indoors, take note. Depending on the severity of the issue you may want to consider using caulk, weatherstripping, door draft stoppers, or outright replacing them altogether.

Test Toilets, Sinks, Showers & Baths

While changing a faulty faucet after you purchase a new home isn’t the end of the world, it is still preferable to have everything in working order when you move in. Dealing with an unexpected headache like toilets that don’t flush properly or showers that drip can make your move a hassle. That’s why at Air Dynamics HVAC we suggest giving everything in your bathroom a thorough look-over before you seal the deal.

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Take a quick look under the sink. If you see any water damage, water stains, mold or notice a musty smell then you likely have a leak.

To properly test sink drains, leave the water running for a few minutes before shutting it off then check for proper drainage. Also, be sure to flush toilets and turn on showers to check for proper water pressure. There’s nothing like moving into a new home and spending all day unpacking. Then, getting ready to take a much-needed shower. Just to find out that your shower isn’t draining properly or your water pressure isn’t quite right. It’s also prudent to check for and test all GFCI outlets located in the bathroom at this time as part of your New Home Inspection Checklist.

Check Grading Of The Yard

It may not be something you’ve already thought about, but is something you should definitely consider. Yard grading and proper drainage control can have a huge impact on your home. Yards that are improperly sloped or do not have a drainage system in place can cause water to pool, damaging your home.

Prevent future water damage by installing a drainage system or making sure that any slopes in your yard are graded away from your home

Pooling of water can cause problems with your home settling and deterioration to your foundation. It also raises the chances for excess water to make its way into your basement causing mold and mildew growth. If possible, you should visit your new home after a decent amount of rain has fallen. This will give you a good visual of areas that need to be addressed for drainage issues.

Take Note Of Any Signs Of Bugs / Pests

Most common household pests may be small, but they can present a huge problem for homeowners. As you walk through the house, be sure to inspect both the interior and exterior of the home for signs of pest invasion or damage. Also, take note of any preventative measures the previous homeowner had taken to prevent pests from making their way inside. These can include installing screens on windows and doors, sealing any holes in the back of storage spaces, sealing cracks in floors or molding as well as preventing shrubs and tree limbs from extending to the side of the house and roof.

Consider A Professional Pest/Termite Inspection

Consider this, according to the National Pest Management Association, approximately 29% of American homes will experience a pest infestation at any given time. While you may be able to use an at-home spray to take care of smaller bug infestations like ants, there are other pest issues that can be more serious and are best left to the professionals. You certainly wouldn’t want to move in to find out later that you had an unwelcome visitor in the attic or extensive termite damage that wasn’t caught beforehand.

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Perform a visual inspection as you walk through, look for droppings or other signs of pests, and keep a mental note of what you may need like mouse traps before moving in

Unfortunately, most new homeowners rarely think about pests. But, pests, like cockroaches, mice & rats, can carry health risks while others like carpenter ants and termites can cause severe and costly damage to homes. That’s why Air Dynamics recommends checking for signs of pests as part of your new home inspection checklist. If you haven’t already, it is highly advisable to have a professional pest/termite inspection performed on your new home before you sign your final paperwork. This will identify any underlying issues that you will need to address before you unpack.

Get A Professional Home Inspection

It goes without saying that a professional home inspection is a must-have in the new home-buying process. A trained qualified professional could pick up on repairs needed or unsafe conditions in your home. They can also test for the presence of asbestos. a very harmful substance that if inhaled can accumulate in the lungs over time causing serious health problems and possibly cancer. Asbestos can be found in many common materials used in the home-building process, especially those built before 1990. These include Attic insulation, boiler & fireplace insulation, popcorn ceilings, electrical panels, plumbing fixtures, vinyl flooring, drywall and cement sheets, plaster, putties & caulking materials.

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments in your life. Don’t let hidden damage cost you even more.

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments in your life. Whether the home you’re buying is new or old there’s a pretty good chance it contains asbestos somewhere. Although most states do not require asbestos testing as part of a real estate transaction, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your family’s health. This is why Air Dynamics HVAC recommends having a home inspection performed by a qualified professional who will test for asbestos and other dangers.

Note The Age Of The Roof

While it’s important to understand that the home you are purchasing will likely not come with a new roof, there are a few things you should consider. Have you thought about the age of the roof on the home you’re considering? Purchasing a new roof can cost the average homeowner between $10,000 – $40,000 depending on the size of the home. Which is why Air Dynamics HVAC recommends jotting down the age and current condition of the roof prior to purchasing.

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Purchasing a new roof can cost the average homeowner between $10,000 – $40,000 depending on the size of the home

This typically includes noting any visible damage, including dry rot. Often caused by poor ventilation, dry rot can cause sagging, crumbling, or even gutter damage. So, don’t forget to not only ask your realtor/seller how old the roof is but to inspect the gutters as well to be sure that your new home’s drainage systems are in good working order. According to U.S. News, the lifespan of your home’s roof heavily depends on the materials used. “Slate, copper, and tile roofs can last more than 50 years. Homeowners with wood shake roofs should expect them to last about 30 years, while fiber cement shingles last about 25 years and asphalt shingle/composition roofs last about 20 years.”

Check the Garage Door

Ensure garage door openers (and any remotes that come with them) are working. Look for ventilation ports in the garage door. These vents can be particularly helpful in allowing fumes to escape your garage area. However, it is important to note that you should never warm up a vehicle in the garage; unless the door is fully open in order to prevent dangerous CO buildup.

Carbon monoxide (CO) in your home can be fatal, killing in minutes or hours, depending on the level of CO in the air.

Want to learn more about CO sources in your home and how to protect your family from the dangers of Carbon monoxide poisoning? Check out our article All About Carbon Monoxide.

Check The Foundation For Cracks

Many new homeowners don’t consider this when purchasing, but the health of your home begins at the foundation. Considering that everything else literally rests on it and is depending on it for support. You shouldn’t overlook the condition of your home’s foundation during your new home inspection checklist. But, simply seeing a crack in this essential component of your home isn’t necessarily cause for immediate concern.

Foundation cracks are common in new and old homes. Knowing the difference between them can help you determine which ones should be addressed immediately.

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While most foundation cracks are common, your home’s foundation should have a regular check-up, just like you do.  Even if you’re not seeing any symptoms just yet, foundation cracks can be found in both new and old homes. This is why, at Air Dynamics HVAC, we recommend checking your foundation twice a year for damage. Seasonal changes can have a significant impact on your foundation, and catching a problem early can save you from a more costly repair. For more information on what to look for when examining foundation cracks check out this article from This Old House by clicking here.

Consider Future Accessibility Issues

If you have aging relatives who plan to visit at any point or you plan to keep your home well into your retirement years. It would be prudent to identify and rectify any current or future accessibility issues.

We all get older and/or may have relatives who struggle with accessibility. Being sure that your home is ready, welcome, and easily accessible to all family and friends is key to an enjoyable experience for all.

Take a look at your new home from an accessibility standpoint, is your home easily navigated? How many steps are there? Do you have secured railings? Are your hallways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair if needed? We all get older and/or may have relatives who struggle with accessibility. Being sure that your home is ready, welcome, and easily accessible to all family and friends is key to an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Bathroom access is critical to all, therefore having access to at least a half bath on the first floor of your home means you and your loved ones can easily use the restroom without struggling to climb a flight of stairs.

Check The Pool If Your Home Has One

You’re touring that perfect home when you catch sight of a pool in the backyard. You think to yourself; this will be an ideal spot to kick back and relax on a hot summer day with friends and family. But, before you get too excited let’s go over a few things you should check before you commit to keeping it. Pools require regular maintenance and upkeep in order to continue functioning properly from season to season. A pool that hasn’t been well maintained can be costly to repair or replace.

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If your pool has a diving board, slide or other attached accessory; check their condition before allowing anyone to use them

Let’s go over a few basic things to consider when evaluating a pool’s condition

First, take note, does the pool appear to be on level ground? Next, take a look at the liner or tiles, are they in good condition? Do you see any visible cracks or tears? Is there a powered cover? What is the condition of the material? Does the motor function to extend and retract the cover? Have you checked the pump and filtration system? Make sure both are functioning well and there are no visible cracks or leaks before you sign that dotted line. If your pool has a diving board, slide or other attached accessory; check their condition before allowing anyone to use them. Keep in mind you will need to address any lingering damage or safety issues after purchasing your home.

Prevent accidents from happening by installing a fence (in-ground) or locking ladder/stairs (above-ground) for your home’s pool

Keep kid safety in mind. Even if you don’t have children that live in your home, you never know when one might drop by and visit. Considering that the CSPC estimates an average of 6,700 accidents are related to pool/spa submersions each year; it’s always best to be prepared. Accidents can and do happen, especially around pools which can prove very tempting to young children. Be sure that your pool is protected by a fence with an out-of-reach locking mechanism for in-ground pools or fold-up ladder/stairs with locking ability for above-ground pools. You wouldn’t want a neighborhood child or anyone else to become unexpectedly injured.

Request A Thorough Cleaning

Lastly, consider requesting a thorough cleaning. Not only does this make unpacking a little less stressful; it also makes it easier to spot any bug or pest problems early on. This should also include ensuring that all vents are open, uncovered, and free from any obstructions that could impede airflow.

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Have your new home thoroughly cleaned before you move in. This will help you to catch any problems that initially went unnoticed

Want to make things even easier? When you’re ready to schedule your HVAC system for seasonal maintenance, give the pros at Air Dynamics HVAC a call. At Air Dynamics, we help you take the hassle out of remembering to schedule your system for seasonal maintenance by offering our convenient Comfort Club Membership. This plan not only ensures that a member of our team will reach out to schedule your system’s maintenance seasonally; it also gives you preferred customer pricing and scheduling priority on any service calls you may need. Need to know more or have any additional questions? Feel free to give us a call anytime at (215)571-9471 and a member of our team will be happy to assist you with any of your HVAC-related needs.

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