As our “Hot Market” cools a little bit, revisiting this article about the common problems with your heating and cooling systems can help calm your nerves as you prep your home for sale.
Whether you’re buying or selling a home, issues with the “systems’ of the house always seem to crop up along the way. Knowing how to deal with these issues will shed a light on the path to a smoother sale.
There are myriad Home and Commercial Inspection Services available, and anyone buying a home or building would be foolish not to use one. As with most services, choosing the best one should be based on the following:
- Strong personal references.
- A good ‘track record’ in the community, and with state records for at least 5 years.
- Strong, clean, and verifiable credentials. In the Service Industry, things can happen that need to be handled; but how they are handled means everything.
- Local, recent references from satisfied customers that you can call or visit and check-up on.
- A strong, clear warranty that covers you if they miss something.
Home Inspection Services are very sophisticated now, using all the new digital ‘toys’ to help communicate things they find, and all of the good companies use a very comprehensive ‘check-list’ that covers everything in the entire home; top to bottom. As long as the inspector has the experience and training to ‘see’ the issues, most anything can be brought out in the open and put ‘on the table’. That said, there is absolutely no substitute for a well-trained and highly experienced tech doing your inspection. Do not be shy about checking a person’s experience and training.
But what if you’re the seller? Discovering the issues with these “systems” beforehand is to your benefit. Knowing how to deal with them, and being proactive, can help to “uncomplicate” the transaction, and save you a few sleepless nights along the way.
We have been helping hundreds of plumbing, heating and cooling customers every month for many years here in Western Washington. The following are the common issues (in our trade) that ‘come to light’ and/or need attention when a home or building is being bought or sold.
- Water Heater Issues – The relief valve on the water heater typically needs attention; either it’s dripping or is not plumbed to the outside per code. Often there are small leaks with the copper water-flex on top of the heater. If the expansion tank has not been serviced annually, it’s often water logged, and not working, and needs replacing.
- Small Drips – Often, there are very small drips at a faucet or hose connection (inspectors are required to try every faucet) or under a sink that needs attention.
- Toilets, Toilets, and Toilets – Obviously, if anything is not working properly on the toilets and/or if there is a drip or leak, or they do not flush well with one flush…they’ll need attention. It’s very common that people will ‘put up with’ things like ‘jiggling the handle’, and it doesn’t get fixed until the house sells.
- Sump Pumps / Septic Systems – Although home inspectors don’t always ‘have to’ check out sump pumps and septic systems, they do need to be checked out for most loans. If the sump pump and/or septic system has not been maintained regularly, they may require some work…sometimes a substantial amount if they have been neglected. If there is evidence of any problems with the drain-field, an inspection will be required.
- Water in the Crawl Space – In the Pacific NW, we sometimes see water intrusion into the crawl space depending on the time of the year. The solutions for this are varied. If you’ve had, and fixed a problem, your solution needs to be readily observable and well documented.
- If the building / home has central heating and/or air that has not been serviced annually as recommended by the manufacturer, the system will typically require servicing. A company like ours is called out to perform an inspection, and produce a report as to the condition of everything that we can see. Normally, we’ll install a new filter if needed.
- If there is electric baseboard or electric fan heat, those units need to be clean and free of dust and debris.
- Any gas fireplaces need to be serviced also, if it’s been less than a year.
- Also, most jurisdictions now require not only Smoke Alarms, but CO Detectors (one on each floor) if there is a fireplace and/or a HVAC system.
Finally, these days of course it is required that ‘full disclosure’ be done on anything that has been a problem in your systems. If it’s something like a clogged Main Sewer line, we have found it helpful to have the paperwork for repairing readily available, as well as a video of the inside of the pipe after the problem was addressed, to show that ‘all is well’ now.
Of course, there are many, many things that might crop up when buying or selling a home or building, but the above are some of the more common we run into. We hope that a little bit of forewarning will help…
Bruce Davis, Sr.
Licensed Journeyman Plumber
Licensed Electrician, HVAC/R
Electrical Administrator, HVAC/R
Certified WA State C.E.U. Instructor
Bruce Sr is President of Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating, a 68-year old family owned and operated plumbing and heating
business in Lynnwood, Washington.
Bruce can be contacted at: Email: Bruce@dayandnite.net
Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating Inc. 16614 13th Ave. W. Lynnwood, WA 98037