What You Need to Know About Your New Home’s HVAC system

Posted on 05/17/2019

new homeowners guide to air ducts This guest blog was provided by Sarah Stilo, a member of the team at HomeLight.

So, you’ve just bought a home and you’re not quite sure what to do next. Let’s take a look at a core function of a home: keeping the outdoor elements at bay. A home’s primary function is to shelter its inhabitants from storms, freezing cold, or blistering heat. To do that properly you’ll need a clean and functioning HVAC system.

What’s an HVAC system?

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems control the heating, cooling, and airflow of your home. HVAC systems require regular maintenance to assure healthy air quality in your home and perform efficiently. The HVAC system serves as the lungs of your home.


Generally, during the home purchase process, an inspector will check the basic functions of the HVAC system to make sure it’s working properly.

Home inspectors will look for:

  • Rust around the unit
  • Open seams both in flues and slopes up the chimney connection
  • Combustion gas order
  • Cracked ductwork
  • Asbestos
  • Dirty air filters

In hot real estate markets, a contingency many homebuyers are making includes forgoing inspections. If that’s the case for you, you should have the home and the HVAC system inspected immediately upon moving in. If you did have a pre-purchase inspection, now is the time to check the major systems of the home for yourself.

The HVAC system is pricey to replace, and you’ll want to make sure it’s functioning properly for air quality and energy efficiency reasons as well.


A brand-new HVAC system can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $11,000+ with installation. A home’s entire HVAC system will typically last about 15-25 years, according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

However, some smaller components of the system will need to be maintained along the way, such as air filters, which need to be changed somewhere between every three weeks (if you have pets and a lot of dander in your home) and six months (if you rarely use your AC or heat). The best way to know when to change a filter is to take a peek at it every week or so to see if you can see through it when held up to the light. If not, it’s time for a change.

Pro tip:

When you move into your new home, check out the dimensions of your filters, and buy a pack to have on hand when the filter needs to be changed.

The other key maintenance function is having the air ducts cleaned.

The top benefits of clean air ducts are better air quality and energy savings. As we live in our homes, we create contaminants and air pollutants including dander, dust, chemicals, and more. Those contaminants go through the HVAC system and are recirculated five to seven times per day on average. If given the chance, they’ll build up in the ductwork and slowly stifle the lungs of the home.

Cleaning the air ducts regularly is especially important for people with respiratory issues, serious health conditions, allergies, and autoimmune disorders.  

Leaving contaminants in the HVAC system will cause it to work harder, which will shorten the life of the system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25% to 40% of the energy used to heat and cool a home is wasted. A clean HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature, which leads to less energy used and improved energy costs. 

How much does it cost to maintain?

NADCA estimates that properly cleaning an HVAC system of an average home will range from $450-$1,000, depending on variables such as:

  • Type of ductwork
  • Size of the system
  • Accessibility
  • Number of workers needed
  • Level of contamination
  • Environmental factors

These same variables will factor into how long it takes to clean the HVAC system.

NADCA provides tips to help homeowners hire a qualified contractor for their HVAC system and air duct cleaning needs. With answers to frequently asked questions and resources like the homeowner’s guide to air duct cleaning, homeowners can feel good about making an informed decision and become familiar with the air duct cleaning industry. NADCA also makes it easy for homeowners to hire a qualified contractor in their area with the Find a Professional feature on the NADCA website.  

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