Imagine this scenario: It’s a freezing cold winter evening, and your client calls to say their heating system suddenly stopped working – and it’s the night before an open house! They don’t want to pay for an expensive service call if it’s not completely necessary. What do you say?
There are a few simple issues that can occur within a home’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that your clients can often alleviate themselves.
As we all know, service calls can be expensive. So before your clients call in a professional, here are five checks you can walk them through to help determine if the problem is a quick fix or serious enough to require further investigation from a professional.
#1 Check the thermostat
Thermostat settings can cause issues with HVAC systems. And you never know who else in the household may be fiddling with the settings when your client isn’t around.
Make sure the settings are in order, and check that the thermostat has power/batteries (if applicable) before calling in a pro.
#2 Examine circuit breakers
If the settings and power/batteries on the thermostat are in order, but the system still isn’t working properly, check the circuit breakers. A jolt of electrical energy can sometimes trip a breaker, so this is worth further investigation before calling for help.
#3 Monitor filters
HVAC filters should be checked monthly, especially during heavy use like frigid winter days or humid summer ones. If the HVAC unit doesn’t seem to be blowing a sufficient amount of air through the vents, a clogged filter could be the culprit.
Changing filters on a regular basis will not only help the HVAC system last longer, but it will also ensure it runs at top efficiency, which saves money long term.
#4 Make sure interior and exterior vents aren’t obstructed
If certain parts of the home aren’t getting enough hot or cool air, it’s important to check the vents. A vent can sometimes get accidentally closed or covered without anyone noticing.
Also, ensure that vents are free from dirt, dust or foreign objects that could obstruct airflow.
#5 Inspect indoor & outdoor switches/exterior disconnects
Most HVAC units have switches located next to the furnace and outdoor air conditioning unit. It’s wise to double-check that these haven’t been turned off before calling for service.
BONUS TIP: If there has been a recent snowstorm or high winds blowing snow around, ensure outdoor vents for the furnace, water tank and fireplace aren’t covered/buried.
If they’re covered, your client will have to dig them out. Many furnace sensors will stop the unit from circulating heat if outdoor vents are blocked. This is actually an important safety feature. Otherwise, deadly carbon monoxide could flow back into the home instead of escaping through these vents.
If you haven’t been able to help your client resolve the issue after performing the checks above, it’s time for them to call for service.
You don’t want potential buyers to be scared away from an open house because it’s too cold. Or, worse, they could be deterred from buying the property altogether if they’re afraid of a faulty HVAC system that could cost a lot to service/replace.
Your clients also don’t want to risk further complications – and costs – if they don’t get the HVAC system serviced as required.
Rick Mayuk is a Regional Owner and Managing Director of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections. Passionate about business ownership and elevating the inspection industry, Rick empowers entrepreneurs to grow their own businesses while working in their local communities. Contact him by email.