Move-In HVAC / Plumbing Checklist

March 1, 2021
Advice

You step inside the front door and know this house is the one. Whether it’s your very first home or your fifth, a new-to-you home is always exhilarating. And with a new home comes lots of to-dos. While home maintenance may not be as exciting as painting a wall or buying a new piece of furniture, it’s the most important aspect of protecting your investment. To make it easy as 1, 2, 3, we’ve created a home maintenance and safety checklist – with a special focus on your HVAC and plumbing systems – to do just that!

During Inspection / Prior to Move-In

#1 Due Diligence

If you haven’t sat at the closing table and signed the dotted line quite yet, there are several things you should check during the due diligence phase.

Plumbing

If you get a home inspection, your home inspector should note any leaks or issues. But if you opt to forego an inspection, and just in case, put on your detective hat and go through the home with a fine-toothed comb.

  • Turn on the water at all inside faucets. Does the water pressure seem sufficient?
  • Check for spots on ceilings that could signal a leak from above.
  • Use your sniffer. Is there a sewage-like smell around toilets or any not secured well to the floor (could indicate the wax ring is broken)? Give the toilet a push to check. (Pro tip: did you know you should NOT caulk around the base of toilets?)
  • Look at your outdoor plumbing, particularly if you have an outdoor irrigation system or sprinkler. One tell-tale sign that something is wrong is if your water pressure is low. If the pressure is a slow trickle, you’ll need a professional.
  • Make yourself aware of the following: What is your water source? The city or a well? There are pros and cons to both; be sure you’re good with what you choose. What about your sewage? Is it connected to the city system or does it use a septic field or holding tank? Same as above; just be sure you’re aware and ensure the system is properly functioning.

Heating and Air Conditioning

  • Like plumbing issues, heating and A/C issues can be harder to see. Ask the listing agent if the sellers know the last time the system had a maintenance check. Pro tip: take a picture of the manufacturer tag on the equipment. You can search the internet for the model and serial number to see how old it is, what refrigerant it uses, what efficiency (seer) level it is, etc. Not sure how to do that? You can always contact us with that information and we can help you out.
  • Ask for a home warranty as part of your offer-to-purchase; this will protect you – at least for a portion of time – if the HVAC needs service after you move in.
  • Is there two feet of space around outdoor HVAC units? If not, there should be.
  • If you’re purchasing an older home, you’ll want to check the windows. Are they painted shut? Be sure you ask the sellers to un-stick them if so. Or, be sure you do so the moment you move in.

After Move-In

#2 Check Air Filters

Confessions of an HVAC technician, we commonly see very dirty air filters. Changing your air filter regularly can make a huge difference in the quality of the air in your home and running through your HVAC system. Our advice: change the filters upon move-in and set a recurring calendar reminder on your phone to purchase and change your air filter moving forward.

The frequency that you need to change your air filters depends on the type of air filters you use in your home:

  • Fiberglass air filter: monthly
  • Pleated 1” air filter: quarterly
  • Pleated 2” air filter: 2x per year
  • Pleated 4” air filter: yearly

#3 Check Your Unit Outside

Clear the space around the HVAC unit. Make sure the unit itself and area around it is free of leaves, pollen and grass. Make sure to have your pest company spray around the outdoor unit also; bugs can cause some serious damage!

#4 Ensure You Have 2 CO Detectors (especially with gas furnaces)

Carbon monoxide is not something to take lightly as it can be fatal. Protect yourself and family/friends by having at least two different types of CO detectors in your home. There are three types: plug-in, battery, and hybrid plug-in with a battery backup.  We recommend only using high-quality hybrid detectors.

Of course, CO detectors only sound their alarms if the level of CO in the house exceeds 30ppm. They are only good for five years and you most likely won’t know when the previous homeowners installed it or changed the batteries. Therefore, it’s very important you have your HVAC system checked yearly to make sure everything is in safe and working order.

Read this link for more information on carbon monoxide safety. 

#5 Test Your Smoke Detectors

While on the safety subject, let’s talk smoke detectors. Be 100% safe and simply change the batteries to all smoke detectors. Then, test them every month or two by lighting a few matches or spraying a smoke test aerosol in front of each sensor.

#6 Check the Caulking

It is important to check the integrity of your home’s caulking. Old, cracked or insufficient caulking around windows and doors can leak heat or air-conditioned air and force your system to work harder. Side note: this is often how bugs and other pests initially enter your home. We suggest adding fresh caulking to your windows and doors regularly.

On the plumbing front, check the caulking (note: this is different than grout!) where your showers, tubs and sinks meet the walls. We recommend 100% silicone caulk, versus acrylic, when caulking around water as it is 100% waterproof and water won’t break it down.

#7 Clean Gutters and the Downspout

Hope you have a ladder because we suggest inspecting your gutters and downspouts. A few hours spent cleaning out your gutters can go a long way in keeping water away from your foundation.

#8 Consider Installing a Smart Thermostat

We gave this device a shout-out in our Save Money, Increase Comfort: Hot HVAC Technology Trends blog and deservedly so.  If your home doesn’t have a smart/WiFi/programmable thermostat, consider upgrading to gain the most efficient performance of your HVAC system. This special system allows you to manage your home’s temperature from afar and keeps you connected to the safety of your home’s system.  Should any HVAC problem arise, you’ll be notified wherever you are.

We like Honeywell thermostats, but we will install any thermostat you buy yourself as well (e.g., Nest, Ecobee, Sensi, etc.) for a flat rate fee of $120, as long as you have enough wires available for install. The older the house, the higher probability you may be short on wires.  

#9/10 Have Maintenance Checks Performed – HVAC& Plumbing

Heating/Air Conditioning

One of the most important steps you can take to keep your energy bills down and avoid pricey repairs is an HVAC maintenance check. Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system inefficiency and failure. The best time to perform a routine maintenance check on your heater is in the fall and on your A/C in the spring.

Our heating and cooling maintenance services through our Simplified Service Plan (SSP) are the best way to keep your heater and air conditioning system fully functional and your home comfortable. This preventive maintenance program includes cleaning, inspection and tune-ups on your heating and air conditioning system by one of our licensed HVAC technicians.

Plumbing

Equally important is having a plumber make sure you're safeguarded from water damage. With us, you can have us do a one-time maintenance call, or even better, you can sign up for our Plumbing Simplified Service Plan (SSP), which checks all fixtures for proper functionality, verifies leak-free operation, cleans aerators, flushes tanked or tankless water heaters, checks water pressure and flow, and much more. You never know what is lurking in places you can't see!

Plus, we can install Wi-Fi water monitoring devices that shut off water in case something goes wrong while you are away.

Congratulations on your home! We're here if you need any heating, air conditioning or plumbing assistance.

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