Does a home inspector check wall air conditioners?
Friday, November 15, 2019
Most wall air conditioners are permanently installed and therefore required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice of both national home inspector associations and the State of Florida. The definition of installed by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), for example, is “attached such that removal requires tools.” Because window air conditioners are not permanently installed, they are not required to be inspected.
The inspector must describe the energy source and cooling system, but is not required to determine the cooling supply adequacy (whether the unit is large enough for the area served), distribution balance of the system, or indoor air quality. Also, the inspector is not expected to operate an air conditioner when the outdoor temperature poses a risk of damaging the system, which is usually considered to be under about 55º F.
Many wall air conditioners are 240-volt units and on a dedicated circuit and receptacle. But the #1 defect commonly found with 120-volt wall air conditioners is that the homeowner has ignored the warning on the side of the big higher-BTU units to “use on single outlet circuit only,” and plugged it into the nearest regular wall receptacle outlet. The manufacturer wants it on a separate, dedicated circuit because of the high amperage rating, and it’s an electrical safety issue.
Also, even when a wall air conditioner has a HEAT mode, if it is the only heat source in a room, it does not meet the standard of “permanently installed heat” necessary for the room to be considered part of the living area of a home. Both the International Building Code (IRC) and the Residential Edition of the Florida Building Code (FBC) specify that a “habitable room” must have an installed heating system capable of maintaining 68º F. A plug-in space heater or window air conditioner does not count. Another sticking point is that older homes that need a four-point inspection to get homeowner’s insurance are expected to have installed heat as a requirement for coverage.
To learn more, see our blog posts What are the most common problems with wall/window air conditioners? and What is the average life expectancy of a window unit air conditioner or heat pump?
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To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, see these other blog posts:
How To Look At A House
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