When it comes to buying or selling a home in the Chicagoland area, there’s a crucial aspect that often gets overlooked: your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)

These essential home systems are the unsung heroes of your family’s comfort, quietly working behind the scenes to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer. Yet, despite their importance, many homeowners are unaware of the intricacies of their HVAC systems and the potential issues that can arise.

That’s where a comprehensive home inspection comes in. Far more than just a formality, a thorough inspection can reveal hidden problems that could end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs or replacements down the line. 

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned real estate investor, understanding what a home inspection can reveal about your HVAC system is essential for making informed decisions about buying and selling property.

A Vital Component

Along with plumbing and wiring, an efficient HVAC is an essential element in turning a structure into a thriving and beloved home. But what’s really going on inside the metal boxes and ductwork?

Chicago’s climate can be brutal, with freezing temperatures in winter and sweltering summers that put these systems to the test all year long. That’s why ensuring that your HVAC is in good working order is critical for maintaining a comfortable living environment and avoiding costly breakdowns when you need it most.

Your heating unit includes a furnace or heat pump that warms the air and distributes it through ducts and vents into different areas of the home. They are powered by natural gas, electricity, oil, or propane. Heat pumps offer both heating and cooling from one system. Some homeowners opt for a dual system, which includes both furnaces and heat pumps.

Older homes in this region may come equipped with a traditional radiator heating system. It’s especially important to invest in a comprehensive home inspection if you’re interested in purchasing one of the area’s iconic historic properties.

There are many other interlocking parts in your HVAC system. Here are a few integral elements you should be aware of:

  • Air/ heat exchanger: These mechanisms help your home “breathe” by evacuating stale air and drawing fresh air inside
  • Thermostat: This controller regulates and stabilizes the temperature of a building. Many buyers are looking for smart thermostats that save money and increase efficiency.
  • Evaporator coils: Refrigerant moves through copper tubing to the evaporator coil, removing heat from the air as well as moisture, which lowers the temperature and creates a more comfortable environment.
  • Vents, registers, and ducts: Ductwork is an extensive network of tubes or chambers that run through the attic, floors, or walls. Vents are openings that allow air to move through the space, and registers are the (sometimes) decorative metal grilles on the ceiling, wall, or floor where cooled or heated air is dispersed into a room.
  • Blower motor/ compressor: This is the engine that drives the HVAC system, generating the power that moves air throughout the building.
  • Condensing unit: Usually housed in a large metal box outdoors, this mechanism is responsible for expelling the heat absorbed from inside the building to the exterior.

Windy City’s experienced inspectors can help you ensure your home’s essential systems are working properly and prevent unexpected and costly repairs. An HVAC inspection can also identify areas where efficiency can be improved.

Common Issues

Hopeful buyers should partner with an organization that follows the Residential Standards of Practice as published by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI).

The first step to a meticulous home inspection is a visual evaluation of the external HVAC elements, and noting any superficial issues with sound, performance, or moisture management. Excessive humidity levels can signal a serious problem with moisture, which InterNACHI calls “the greatest destroyer of houses.”

A certified home inspector will leverage their considerable knowledge to examine as many aspects of the HVAC as possible, including:

  • Checking for leaks, corrosion, cracks
  • Inspecting the condition of ductwork 
  • Verifying correct installation 
  • Examining the thermostat and safety controls
  • Assessing the age

Even a newer HVAC system needs regular preventative maintenance and inspection to operate safely and effectively long-term. But for older units, a home inspection prior to buying or selling a property becomes especially compelling.

The Real Value of an Intensive Inspection

Neglected HVAC systems are more prone to breakdowns and malfunctions. Our skilled inspectors can assess the cleanliness of filters, coils, and vents, as well as the condition of moving parts, to gauge the level of maintenance the system has received — and give buyers a much better idea of the marketability of a property.

For sellers, making needed HVAC repairs or upgrades can positively impact your home’s market value. A professional home inspection provides decisive insight into the viability of an investment and gives buyers the confidence they need to make the most informed choice.

From new construction to Chicagoland’s beloved bungalows, we’re here to offer expert guidance to help you navigate the realm of real estate and make your dream home a reality. Call or click to schedule your inspection today!