A home’s HVAC system is a significant investment, and therefore it’s a carefully examined item on a home inspection. While everything needs to be replaced at some point, well-maintained systems last longer and operate more efficiently.

There are, however, some common HVAC problems that generally pop up on a home inspection which you can prepare for. These include:

  1. Leaks
  2. Clogged drains
  3. Dirty coils
  4. Dirty filters
  5. Uneven condenser pads
  6. Incorrect exhaust vents
  7. Problems in the duct system
  8. Aging equipment


If you have leaks in the cooling system, this means refrigerant or gas is escaping. This is potentially dangerous and should be addressed without delay.

Clogged drains

Your condenser has a drain where condensation collects during the cooling process and then goes out through a drain hose. If there are clogs or issues with the drain, that water will back up and cause moisture issues.

Dirty coils

If the condenser coils are dirty, it can restrict airflow and affect energy efficiency. You can clean it with a brush or vacuum cleaner. To minimize the opportunity for debris, keep plants and all organic material set at least one foot away from the unit.

Dirty filters

Filters protect your system’s mechanical parts from getting dirty. They also help clean the circulating air. When they are not changed (or cleaned) regularly, they get dirty and start causing problems with airflow.

Uneven condenser pads

The condenser sits on a pad, and this pad should be level — or within 10 degrees of level. If it is not, it negatively affects the lubrication in the tubing and increases stress on the refrigerant lines.

Proper exhaust flue

It’s a fact: any equipment with combustion needs to vent waste (including carbon monoxide). The exhaust flue is the channel through which this waste vents through the house to the outside. Your flue pipe must properly slope up to a chimney or outdoor vent, and it must be properly supported.

Problems in the duct system

When ductwork is not properly installed or develops broken connections, you will lose cooled and/or heated air into the attic, crawl, and inside wall spaces.

Aging equipment

Sometimes equipment just passes its expiration date and simply wears out.

How well an HVAC system has been maintained is often an indicator of how well the entire home has been maintained. Whether you’re on the buying or selling end, as a homeowner it’s always a good idea to have your heating and air conditioning inspected by a licensed technician every year.

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