Does a home inspector check window air conditioners?
Friday, November 15, 2019
Any appliances that are not permanently installed are not required to be inspected by the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations and the State of Florida, and window air conditioners are specifically excluded in the standards for that reason. The definition of installed by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), for example, is “attached such that removal requires tools."
Window air conditioners are usually not part of a real estate transaction anyway, since the seller will be removing them when they leave. But many home inspectors, including us, ask whether the window units are going with the sale and if the homebuyer wants us to examine them.
The #1 defect commonly found with 120-volt window air conditioners is that the homeowner has ignored the warning on the side of the larger, 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 window 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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