If you are planning to sell your home anytime soon, it might be a good idea to find out if your furnace is up to current building codes. A furnace that is not up to code could give potential buyers a negotiating point on the price. Also, you want to make sure that it is up to code so that it does not pose a fire hazard, but how do you know if your furnace would pass inspection?
What Might Cause Your Furnace to Be Out of Code
Even if your furnace was installed professionally by you, or the person from whom you purchased your home, it might not be up to code now. Building codes and standards are upgraded from time to time, and it might simply be a case where it was installed to an older set of standards. Another reason why it might not be up to code is that the person who had the home before you either installed the furnace themselves or has done repairs that were not performed by a licensed professional.
If you perform construction or renovation in the room where the furnace is located, it is possible that your furnace might not have proper clearances and may now be in violation of the code. Any work in the vicinity of the furnace could cause an inadvertent code violation. It does not have to be work on the furnace itself to create this situation. One type of work that could affect whether your furnace is up to code is roof work that could interfere with venting.
Is the Work “Grandfathered”?
If your furnace was installed or repaired before a change in the building code, you do not necessarily have to bring it up to code if you are not going to sell it. There are some circumstances where the code was put into place because of a significant safety issue, such as the elimination of aluminum wire in residential construction, where you might need to upgrade your service. Even if you sell your home, depending on its age, as long as it was up to code when it was built, it might be considered “grandfathered,” which means that you will not have to bring it up to code before you sell it. You will have an obligation to disclose the situation to the buyers.
It is good to know that you do not have to continually monitor for changes in the building code that could affect your furnace. When you plan to sell it, even if local real estate laws allow certain conditions to be grandfathered, some lending institutions still require the furnace to be brought up to code before they will approve a loan. Many buyers will insist on a building inspection, so it is a good idea to consider this before you put your home on the market.
Examples of HVAC Code Changes
Building code standards differ by state and locality. Some of the more recent changes that might affect building codes in the San Antonio area include the use of insulated or double-insulated ductwork and standards that affect wall and ceiling insulation to improve energy efficiency. Other things that might be included in the code might be ventilation requirements, the size and type of ductwork, and a requirement for carbon monoxide detectors or smoke detectors.
Many building codes require a certain clearance around the furnace to allow for proper ventilation and to prevent a fire hazard. If you are doing any work in the basement or the area where the furnace is located, you will need to check to find out if the work will affect current HVAC building codes for the type of home you have.
How Old Is Your Furnace?
One handy piece of information is knowing the age of your furnace. This will help you determine which set of codes was in effect when it was installed. Unfortunately, this can be more difficult than it would seem. You might find a sticker or plate on the furnace that tells you when it was installed.
If this is not the case, you will need to try to find the serial number. Every furnace brand has its own system for including the year of manufacture in the serial number. In many cases, you can call the manufacturer themselves, and they might be able to help you decode the age of your furnace based on the serial number and other factors.
This can be more difficult if the company is no longer in business, but you can at least find out when they went out of business to get the last possible date for your unit. Many professionals can also help you determine the approximate age of your furnace.
Where to Find Building Codes in San Antonio
If you want to find current copies of the building codes that apply to residential and commercial buildings, you can contact the City of San Antonio Codes and Ordinances Department. They are located in the Cliff Morton Development and Business Services Center at 1901 South Alamo Street in San Antonio. You can call them or contact them through their website.
Another way to make sure that your furnace is up to code is to call a licensed professional to come out and inspect it. Ongoing training means that the staff at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating remains current on installation and repair techniques as well as changes in the building code. This can save you the risk of any surprises when a potential buyer has a pre-sale inspection performed. It also means that you can have peace of mind when it comes to your safety.
Licensed Technicians Are the Best Source of Information
Unless you are a licensed technician, it is a good idea not to try installation or repair of the furnace yourself. This is not only for your own safety, but also to avoid any legal issues from an improper installation. In some cases, a city permit might be required before any installation or certain types of repairs can take place. Failure to obtain a proper permit or install the HVAC system according to code can result in heavy fines, and you will have to call a licensed technician to have it fixed or installed properly.
In addition to concern over San Antonio building codes, you also need to make sure that any installation or repair work is conducted according to the manufacturer’s standards. If it is not, then it could void your warranty. Another reason for concern is that a furnace that is out of code could also cause your insurer to drop you or raise your rates.
Even if you are not selling your home, there are many good reasons to make sure that your furnace is up to code. Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating provides San Antonio, TX, customers a range of heating and cooling services. Our services include the installation, repair, and service of heating and cooling systems. We also provide indoor air quality services, and we build and remodel custom homes in the surrounding area. Contact us if you need any of these services or would like us to inspect your furnace for code compliance.