One of the best ways to make your home more comfortable, healthier and less expensive to operate is top grade the heating, cooling and ventilation systems. Energy-efficient equipment upgrades can be expensive, but can be offset by lower operating costs.
Before you decide to upgrade mechanical equipment, it’s also critical to understand how the overall performance of the house will be affected. Keep in mind that your lifestyle, the number of occupants, their age, the climate and the insulation levels of the all have an impact on the performance of mechanical systems. This type of upgrade will require professionals to do it right and to avoid causing other problems in the house. It’s important to weigh the benefits against the costs. Healthy Housing Renovating is an ideal time to make your house healthier for you, the community and the environment. When upgrading your mechanical systems to increase their efficiency, be sure to consider:
Occupant health—venting strategy for combustion appliances, adequate ventilation for occupants, addition of air filtration.
Energy efficiency—energy-efficient appliances, high efficiency motors for fans and furnaces. _ Resource efficiency—upgraded insulation and draft proofing to reduce heating needs and
allow installation of a smaller heating system.
Environmental responsibility— energy-efficient appliances to reduce the home’s environmental impact.
Affordability—energy-efficient fixtures to reduce ongoing operating costs.
Common Situations All equipment has an optimal life span. Older furnaces and boilers may need replacing simply because they have outlived their useful life, or because they may not have been regularly serviced. If you have noticed a sudden change in fuel bills, it may be because you have started using the house differently—perhaps the temperature settings have been increased because a new child has entered your life or an elderly person has moved in.
Older homes often have areas that are cold because of poorly laid out heating and mechanical systems. Perhaps you are undertaking other renovation work that requires some adjustments to your present mechanical systems. In this case, you can also consider upgrading your mechanical equipment to take advantage of new, more efficient products. This may also be an opportunity to install a proper ventilation system where one does not exist. It is important to note that mechanical systems must not change the balance between the air pressure inside and outside the house—since high pressure differences can lead to combustion spillage problems from furnaces, hot water heaters or fireplaces. If there are no fuel burning appliances of any kind in the house, then this is not a significant issue.
About your House as a System
A house is much more than just four walls and a roof, it’s an interactive system made up of many components including the basic structure, heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, the external environment and the occupants.
Each component influences the performance of the entire system. A renovation provides an opportunity to improve how your house performs.
Energy-efficient mechanical systems such as gas furnaces, usually have a sealed combustion chamber that isolates the flue gases from the house. Direct vent gas fireplaces can be a decorative heat source too, while not compromising the indoor air quality. New appliances may require special provisions for makeup air if the combustion appliances are not the “sealed combustion” or “induced draft” type. Avoid Surprises Knowing the properties and operating characteristics of your heating system will help you to determine the changes you may want to consider. You will want to hire a professional heating contractor to make changes in the mechanical systems. Thinking about what changes you’d like to make or anticipating problems ahead of time will help the heating contractor address the shortcomings of your home’s system. Here are some of the likely situations that people encounter.
Solar or photovoltaic collectors
Central exhaust system
(if not using heat recovery ventilator (HRV))
Correctly sized equipment
Heat recovery from exhaust air streams
• Minimal reliance on electricity • Central air conditioning • Central vacuum • Water purification system Improved filtration
Sealed combustion appliances
Combustion air as required
High efficiency appliances Upgraded
Controls Sealed ducts
Insulated hot water pipes
Ask yourself . . .
How old is the furnace or boiler? service done?
Is it more than 15 years old?_ When was the last maintenance
Consider your options . . .
Replace the furnace, depending on its age and condition. Furnaces typically last 15 to 20 years, while boilers may last up to 40 years if maintained correctly.
Older furnaces have very inefficient motors and the heat exchangers are not as efficient at extracting heat compared with newer furnaces.
Hot water based heating systems may have inefficient boilers and pumps. New equipment is much more energy-efficient than the older equipment likely to be in your home.
Have your heating system maintained regularly to keep it operating safely and efficiently. Filters must be cleaned or replaced regularly. Combustion system components must be maintained as outlined in user manuals.
Choose more energy-efficient appliances that may make it possible to eliminate existing chimneys. This is worth considering if the chimney is located on an exterior wall or mostly outside. These types of chimneys can contribute to back drafting of combustion gases.
Many existing furnaces are oversized. Choosing a new properly sized furnace can lead to a smaller, less expensive furnace and possible gains in efficiency.
. . . and if you don’t _ Inadequate maintenance will mean a shorter life span for the equipment and can lead to premature failure, incomplete combustion of fuels and back drafting of combustion gasses. Clogged filters and flues are a fire hazard. Cracked heat exchangers allow combustion gases into the home’s air.
Newer, combustion-fuelled, energy efficient equipment requires venting and combustion air supply directly to the unit. This may also have an impact on the overall environment within the house.
Many new furnaces, because they are significantly more efficient, may require some modifications to the original heating ducts.
If only one appliance is upgraded and removed from a flue, then there may have to be modifications made to the chimney so that the remaining appliance is vented correctly.
For more information and know how contact us at G. I. Home Inspections LTD we will be more than happy to help you make the right decision.
I’ve been selling Real Estate long enough to have a good opinion of what to renovate in a house. I’m a good observer of what impresses buyers and neighbours when walking through my open houses. Here is a list of upgrades I notice regularly.
1. Hardwood: Putting in Hardwood, is a pain in the ass. Yes it is, its messy, and while you are not personally doing it, people know the value of a good floor even at its cheapest. While there are new materials being used these days, a good hardwood floor is still a top seller in my mind.
2. Granite Everywhere: Even thought other cheaper products are entering the market, when buyers see granite, their eyes open up because they know how much it costs to install. Granite in the washrooms are great too.
3. Finished Basement: Now, this is a finished basement that is done properly. Not just some drywall and studs. A finished proper basement. There are not many out there, and many people do this themselves which will actually lower the property value.
4. Walkout-Basement: Why do people want this, so they can rent this obviously, or have their kid live there when they are too old, or have a nanny apartment.
5. Kitchen: This will include new cabinets, appliances, and proper flooring. A well done kitchen can sell the whole house, because this is probably the most expensive area, and most spent.
6. Washrooms: Washrooms, are another pain to renovate, because without out one, you must use the other and congest it. A proper clean and renovated washroom, sells a house.
People think that if you had that extra amount of money, you could move in and do nothing when you buy a house. This is not the case in 99% percent of the homes that are bought. No matter what, you will have to do something. No house is walk in ready. There are houses that are almost walk in ready. Here is a list of thing you will most likely have to do when buying your new house.
1. Change the locks: If you haven’t changed the locks the day after you move your stuff in, you are naive to think you will probably not get robbed. There are thousands of cases where people sold a home, and cousin Johnny had a key, and two weeks later cleaned out the new buyers. You should go to Home Depot, and change all of the locks on all of the door right away. You should also change the code for the remote start on the garage door opener while your at it.
2. Filters on Furnace: Hopefully when the furnace was checked during the inspection, the furnace was in good shape, but typically, because the owners don’t care anymore, they won’t care about changing, or leaving you filters for the furnace. Make sure you buy some new filters and change the filter the day you move in, unless it looks ok.
3. Paint: In some cases you might be ok with the paint on the wall, painting is usually a thing which must be done to all houses. Even if the paint looks ok, the walls may be dirty, and you might want to put a fresh coat on the walls to give your new house that extra sheen. Its a good idea to do that before you move in, because doing it after is more of a challenge.
4. Lawn: The minute sellers realize they sold the house, most of the time, they stop water and tending to the lawn and garden. You might have to re-sod the ground, and you might have to get fertilizer or get a professional landscaper to come in and update the grounds.
5. Clean the Vents: There is no way, anybody ever thinks about cleaning the vents before they move. You should get the vents cleaned right away, there is probably a lot of crap in there from either a renovation that was done to sell the house, or just from moving all the junk that has been sitting around, and now is moved through this process.
So you put an offer in, you’re deposit is down, you’ve got the financing, you’ve done a home inspection and you’re ready to move in. Wrong! You should do a web search and a newspaper search on the house you are looking to spend the rest of your life in. Most people think because they have an agent that the agent knows what the history is on the property, but you are wrong. Both agents only have to disclose what they know, if they don’t know anything, then they do not have to disclose anything. Yes there are instances where agents were fined because they didn’t know any information and there were some sort of stigma with the property, but a fine is not gonna help you after you are living in a property that had a double homicide in it.
You should always cover your tracks and double check to make sure that your property was not the scene of some horrific event last year. Even the best agents, and lawyers only are as good as the information they can get. Sometimes, information doesn’t hit the news, you might want to speak to the neighbours that are outside when you go for your home inspection. Think about how many murders and crimes are committed in the world, they have to be committed in the nice little neighbourhood, which nobody saw coming. It could just be the reason why you got your house a bit cheaper than usual. 🙂
I hear horror stories about how agents will just use the old photos from MLS. Its the laziest thing an agent can do. Even to take a picture with your iPhone would be better resolution than old photos from MLS. Its crazy to think that an agent in this day and age will have the balls to say to a client, I’m just going to use the old photos. Hey nothing much has changed in the house and the paint colour is the same.
The next thing I hear is, its a hot property, I don’t even have to post a picture at all. So I might as well use the old photos. What that is saying is that basically you want to do absolutely nothing to promote the property and get paid for it. Yes there are other things that agents get paid to do, but promotion is the very basics. Even if its the hottest property in the world, why would you not want to show the house as it is today.
Another curious thing is that, pictures on a website and MLS are not always of the house. Some agents will take pictures of the neighbourhood, the park nearby, amenities, and some interesting feature going on around the house. Those certainly have changed in the few years that the house has been in your possession.
When you sell a house, you want to bring in as many people as possible to promote the property, while deterring buyers who will waste your time. You don’t want speculators in the house at any point. You need serious buyers, who qualify, who can put an offer on the house when you start taking offers. By posting little or no pictures, you are forcing speculators to come to the property, wasting both parties time.
If you have a hot property that you know will sell fast and will drive bids, wouldn’t you want to stage the place properly, take better pictures, and drive even more traffic to the property? Then driving the price up?