In this short article I will explain why a heating system inspection coupled with a home performance inspection is a superior value compared to what most traditional heating and air conditioning companies offer as their winter check-up. The Advantage Comfort & Safety Inspection (CSI) is an innovative approach to helping homeowners learn if they are getting the optimal comfort, health, safety and efficiency from their heating system and home. This inspection not only surfaces the common building defects that undermine your home’s performance, but it also provides a path forward to improving your indoor environment.
What makes our inspection unique is that it not only focuses on your heating system, but also the components of your home that impact home performance. Our inspection is driven by the fact that the comfort, safety, health and efficiency of any home is dependent on both the heating system, as well as the insulation, air barrier, duct system…Your house is a system and it only performs well when all the key systems are free of building defects. Our goal is not only to make sure the furnace is operating in a safe and efficient manner, but the whole house as well. To do anything less – is arguably an incomplete approach.
A simple example highlights the interdependent nature of your home. If a home has missing insulation over the master bedroom it will be less comfortable and you’ll have higher utility bills because your furnace will run more to keep the indoor temperature at 70°F. If the furnace is running more due to missing insulation and the air distribution system leaks then you are paying another penalty. The air you paid to heat is escaping into the attic or crawlspace where the duct system is located. Duct leakage can lead to a variety of indoor air quality problems that are beyond the scope of this article. The CSI focuses on the total home performance and not just on the heating system operation.
We begin the CSI with a complete safety inspection of your heating system by a NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified HVAC service technician. Our inspection is based on general manufacturer’s recommendations for either gas furnaces or heat pumps. See the table below for a partial list of the items that will be inspected. To be clear, this is an inspection of your furnace and does not include maintenance. Our service technician will bring any potential mechanical or safety issues to your attention and he can make the repairs if you request it.
The second part of the CSI is the home performance inspection. Home performance is defined by how you feel in your home. To understand home performance you simply have to answer the following questions:
If a house is cold, drafty and expensive to heat and cool, your home has poor performance characteristics. Who wants to live in an uncomfortable home that is expensive to heat and cool? As a society, we spend a lot of time evaluating how cars perform and almost none on how houses perform, yet a home is a much bigger investment that we spend much more time in than a car.
The home performance part of the CSI focuses on the commonplace building defects that undermine your home’s performance. These building defects exist in at least 90% of homes in Arizona. Our technicians are looking for leaky ductwork, poorly designed air distribution systems, missing and poorly installed insulation, air barrier issues, lack of solar control, etc. These types of problems cause uncomfortable rooms (too warm, or too cold), high utility bills and indoor-air quality issues such as excessive household dust.
Our inspection is thorough. Our technician physically goes into your attic and crawlspace, (if your home has one) to inspect air barriers, insulation, duct systems, etc. It also includes an infrared scan of your house. Our camera can actually see the heat loss. It is like a thermal x-ray of your home. The goal is to surface the building defects that are undermining your home’s performance.
The third part of this inspection is the customer meeting after both inspections have been completed. In this meeting, our technician explains to the customer what they have had found. We will submit a basic report stating what issues we found with your heating system, thermal pressure envelope and combustion appliances. If there are big problems with your insulation, air barrier, air distribution system, etc. we can have one of our Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified auditors come out at no cost and put together a quote for repairs as well as advise you on utility rebate eligibility.
The CSI is designed to provide an integrated snapshot of your heating system and home. The inspection reveals a lot of valuable information. To reiterate on the heating system side, it is a safety inspection and not maintenance. On the home performance side we are doing a visual inspection with an infrared scan and not providing a comprehensive home energy audit. We do offer heating and cooling annual maintenance programs and comprehensive audits. We also believe that the CSI is a great first step because there are no local heating and air conditioning companies offering anything like it.
The inspection runs approximately two hours give or take a half-hour. The duration of the inspection depends on the location of the heating system and the complexity of the house. Our inspection costs $79 for a single heating system home. We add an additional $39 for every additional heating system. We charge such a nominal amount for this inspection because it is a great way to introduce you to Advantage Home Performance. We have offices in Prescott and Phoenix. Call our office if you have any more questions after reading this article 928-445-3828 & 623-939-3329.