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Trying to determine if replacing your AC matters when selling your home?  The experts say an inspection will reveal the best answer.

Start with a Service Call

Potential home buyers need assurance they can trust a property’s cooling system, especially in the notoriously hot and humid summers of northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.  A professional HVAC inspection prior to listing your home can help determine whether replacing the system entirely is the smartest choice.

During a service call, a licensed inspector will look at the heating and cooling system’s overall age and condition.  Keep in mind, cooling systems typically last 12 to 17 years.  If yours is approaching the end of its lifetime, a technician may recommend replacement.

Trusted HVAC companies like Starnes, Inc. will thoroughly examine your air conditioning system, the same way a buyer’s home inspector will.  Both will turn on the A/C to ensure it operates properly and if it runs, consider it functional.  An inspection by a licensed HVAC pro with Starnes will go further, determining more about the system’s condition, including:

  • Does the system have refrigerant leaks?
  • What’s the status of the compressor?
  • What is the dust load in the ductwork?
  • How worn are the electrical components?
  • What’s the condition of the motors and belts?

Discovery of refrigerant leaks during an inspection should prompt the most serious concern about system replacement, especially if the home’s HVAC unit uses R-22 or Freon.  Both refrigerants are the old standard for residential air conditioners and are now being phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency.  As a result, servicing those units will only become more expensive in the future, leading most trusted HVAC companies to recommend replacement of any system 10 years old or more that uses R-22.

Lots of dust in the ductwork will indicate to an inspector that a home’s air filter likely hasn’t been changed often enough.  The inspector may recommend that changing filters every month will increase system efficiency and improve indoor air quality.

Visible wear on the cooling system’s motors, belts and other components will be noted by your inspector.  These findings aren’t always serious, however, as long as replacement parts are easily available through your local HVAC service provider.  Most electric components can be cleaned or replaced and motors and belts are usually easy to reach.

Combined, the answers to each of these questions will help an inspector make a determination of your system’s overall health.

Value of Energy Efficiency

Next, you’ll want to think about what role the value of energy efficiency will play for potential buyers.  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and companies in the private sector have found that energy efficiency is important to most who are in the real estate market.  Research consistently finds homes that are more energy efficient fetch higher prices and that buyers are willing to pay more, knowing their long-term energy costs will be lower.

An air conditioner uses about half your total energy consumption during the cooling season.  New systems use less, which should be a factor in the decision of whether to upgrade to a new unit.  If the system in your home was manufactured before 2000, a new central air conditioner will undoubtedly use less energy, regardless of the condition of the old one.  In 2015, the DOE raised efficiency standards from the 2006 minimum requirement of 13 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) to the minimum to 14.  SEER is the industry’s term that expresses a product’s energy efficiency.  A higher SEER value is always better.

In real life terms, the increase from 13 to 14 theoretically increases the efficiency of a system by 20 percent.  This means that a 14 SEER system would use 100 watts of energy, while a 13 SEER would use 120 watts under the same conditions.  According to professional HVAC installers and dealers, those savings add up, which is why people want an energy efficient home.  That may be a critical factor for buyers considering an offer on your home.

Lending and Energy Efficiency

Another advantage of replacing your home’s air conditioning system before you put it on the market lies in the lending that’s available for potential home buyers.  Many lenders offer energy efficient mortgage (EEM) programs that give buyers advantages like lower interest rates and more borrowing power.  Replacing your A/C and featuring the upgrade in the listing might put your home in a category that qualifies it for this additional mortgage option. The extra advantage will broaden your potential buyer pool.

Bottom Line

The professionals at Starnes, Inc. can assess your air conditioning system to help you decide whether replacing it is a smart move before you sell.  We provide trusted HVAC services for northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia homeowners every day and are ready when you need us.