Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

The Basics:

HVAC is simply the technology of indoor comfort. It's purpose is to provide the occupant with heated air or cooled air.  In addition, the system works to replace the stale indoor air with newer (less stale, less stagnant) exterior air, and then, distribute the new air throughout the interior space.  This improves air quality, quite simply. 


The larger vents along your wallboard (by the floor) are normally return vents -- which collect the cooler, denser air near the floor and return it to the HVAC systems mechanical operator (normally a furnace and air conditioner).  The smaller vents normally located at the ceiling level blow the returned air back into the living space of the home, re-supplying the home with new air. 

The picture to the right shows a typical attic-mounted furnace on a larger new home, photographed during a home inspection in Plumas Lake California.  The insulated duct work used to channel air flow is also shown in the photograph.

Brand new furnace - New Construction home in Plumas Lake, California
On The Inspection:

On the home inspection we will observe the heating and cooling system for the home, and operate the system to ensure functionality.  We will observe the air distribution and ventilation activities to ensure each room of the home is receiving conditioned air where appropriate -- This is important because ventilation helps  the breathing and reduces air moisture, odors, smoke, heat, dust, airborne bacteria, carbon dioxide, and even other natural gases like radon.  We will check the condition of the mechanical components to ensure nothing is completely out of the ordinary, falling off, or presenting a potential safety hazard. 


 Your home inspection report will detail the operation control and provide information on the homes energy source (gas, electricity, hot water, etc) and heating method (furnace/HVAC, radiator, boiler, etc) for the system.  The report will also include the date of installation for the systems mechanical components, and make recommendations for servicing or replacement if warranted. 

The picture to the right was also taken in another Minnesota basement and shows a gravity furnace, probably around one hundred years old.  

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Old Gravity Furnace
Tips For Home Owners:
  • Replace the AC Filters. This should be done every 45 to 90 days.  The replacement of filters keeps the air more free from air-borne particulates; but also, ensures the system is functioning efficiently, reducing energy costs and increasing the useful service life of the unit. 

  • Keep an Eye on the Duct Work.  The condition of the duct work is very important. Shoddy or leaking duct work can cause system inefficiencies and increase energy costs, decreasing service life. Inspect the ductwork throughout the house and basement.  Get up in the attic and inspect those ducts every year (be safe though doing it though) -- look for holes or cracks that could be leaking air.  However, we as home owners and even home inspectors can't see the microscopic holes or smaller flaw in the system that modern day equipment can detect. So an HVAC company can be hired to provide a baseline evaluation. 

Typical Air Conditioner Unit