Most home buyers look for crown molding or granite countertops when they look at potential homes. Often, the HVAC and plumbing systems go unnoticed. Although these systems may not stand out aesthetically, they can cost a lot of money to repair or replace. So, along with looking for a spacious living room, check the heating and cooling system and the plumbing.

Here are a few issues to watch out for in your potential home’s HVAC and plumbing units.

Leaky Water Heaters

Most homeowners keep the water heater tucked out of sight. If the appliance leaks, you may not notice the issue until after the water has severely damaged the area. The cost to replace the water heater, fix any water damage, and pay for utility costs could quickly add up.

As you look at the unit, make sure it’s in an area that won’t cause property damage. Ideally, the water heater will be in a closet away from finished living spaces.

Additionally, make sure the previous homeowners took care of any water damage from previous leaks.

Size of the Water Heater

To avoid running out of hot water in your new home, make sure the water heater holds enough water for your family’s needs. In some cases, older homeowners want to save money after the kids move out. To meet this goal, they may replace the water heater with a smaller unit. Always check the tank volume to ensure you will have enough hot water for you and your family.

Age of the Furnace

Not every homeowner takes care of the furnace. Don’t let their neglect cost you money.

Before you buy the home, ask the previous owners how long they have had the system. Most furnaces have a lifespan of 16 to 20 years. If you find your potential home as an older system, you may need to pay for more repairs or an entire new system in just a few years.

Additionally, ask the homeowners if they have had any recent repairs done. It could be a warning sign if they mention the HVAC system required several repairs. You can get a maintenance record to ensure a professional maintained the system within the last year.

If you need to buy a new system, you may be able to negotiate the cost in the home’s selling price.

Rusty Pipes

Old furnaces tend to have rusty pipes near them. But rusty pipes may mean more than just an old unit. If you see rusty pipes near the furnace, it could be a sign of carbon monoxide leaks. When rust is present, make sure the previous owners and the inspector see the area. This damage could reduce the home value in the home appraisal.


During your walk-through, have the homeowners turn on the air conditioning or heater if it’s not running already. Once the system is on, put your hand over the vent to make sure there is a strong airflow.

Additionally, check the filters to ensure the previous owners changed them regularly. Proper furnace maintenance will increase airflow and air quality dramatically.

Ducts and Insulation

Although the A/C and furnace are the major systems within the home, you should also check the insulation and ducts. Any leaks in the ductwork can use more energy to heat or cool the home. You can identify leaks by condensation, gaps, or loose connections. Also check that the ducts are free of dust and mold to ensure good air quality in your home.

You should ask the current homeowners about the type of insulation in the home and visit the attic if possible. Notice any drafts or changes in temperature between rooms. This temperature difference could be a sign of poor insulation that could cause problems down the road.

As you look for your new home, don’t underestimate the importance of quality HVAC and plumbing system. Check these areas to ensure a quality system. In the end, it could save you thousands of dollars.