We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
DNugent
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:18 am

We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by DNugent » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:28 am

We recently moved back home to Ohio from Texas. We bought a house which is 30 years old. The seller checked "no" on the seller disclosure form claiming that she was not aware of any issues with the furnace & a.c. unit. We had the home inspected before buying it, but our inspector was unable to check the furnace and a.c. unit because, the propane tank was empty. So we assumed that the ac and furnace worked. We had a fairly mild summer and didn't need to use the ac. So we waited until the colder temperatures to order a new propane tank and propane. Now the furnace doesn't work. We paid an hvac guy to come out after hours to look at the furnace and he is telling us that the furnace needs a new motor and possibly some other parts. The cost to fix it is going to be at least $500 possibly more if there is anything else wrong with it. We have already paid $103.50 for the service call. Should the seller be held liable for these expenses? On the seller disclosure form she also claimed that she still lived at the residence and she had already moved out. I don't know what to do. I feel like she knew about the issues and tried hiding it. I feel like we were taking advantage of and I'm worried that we will have to completely replace the system which could cost thousands of dollars that we don't have. :( any advice is appreciated.

User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 4058
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Kenkat » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:49 am

The AC unit would not have used propane so I do not understand why that was not checked by the inspector? You could try filing suit in small claims court but it could be difficult to prove that she knew the furnace was faulty. You could also contact the home inspector and clarify exactly what was or was not checked to determine if this is a problem that might have occurred later on.

If the expense is limited to $500-600, it might not be worth pursuing this very aggressively.

User avatar
unclescrooge
Posts: 2084
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:00 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by unclescrooge » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:56 am

The first year of home ownership warrants the purchase of a home warranty plan for precisely this reason.

In California, it's customary for the seller to pay for this. This mitigates all known/unknown issue arguments, since the home warranty pays to fix everything (appliances, hvac, water heater, garage door but not plumbing/electrical issues).

Might be worth looking into.

$500 isn't worth pursuing.

quantAndHold
Posts: 1701
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:01 am

There’s a bunch of coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’ items here that should have been done (AC could have still been checked, you could’ve asked to seller to get propane, then inspected again, or bought a home warranty). But that’s all water under the bridge.

At this point, if the cost is under $1000 or so, I’d just eat the cost as part of the learning experience. If you need an expensive replacement, I might talk to a real estate attorney. Who runs completely out of propane if they’re still living in the place?

9liner
Posts: 57
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:03 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by 9liner » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:05 am

You'd be wasting time and money pursuing a small claim for a $500 repair. Short of a home warranty, you buy the house "as-is".

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 15996
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by dm200 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:06 am

Yes - I don't see why the AC could not have been independently checked.

With 20/20 hindsight, perhaps it would have been prudent to get a tank of propone and tested the furnace.

It seems odd that the propane tank was completely empty - should have been a "clue" that the furnace was not being used?

It is possible that the problem with the furnace is related to an empty propane tank? If the furnace was not working, how could the propane have been fully used up?

User avatar
rustymutt
Posts: 3707
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:03 pm
Location: Oklahoma

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by rustymutt » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:11 am

This is why I hate to use a service for this. They most often overlook very important details of home ownership. AC, and heating system is one major item, and I wouldn't mind paying a private company to inspect and do a report for me on properties I'm interested in. Doesn't hurt to have friends in the business.
I'm amazed at the wealth of Knowledge others gather, and share over a lifetime of learning. The mind is truly unique. It's nice when we use it!

tibbitts
Posts: 7502
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:11 am

DNugent wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:28 am
We recently moved back home to Ohio from Texas. We bought a house which is 30 years old. The seller checked "no" on the seller disclosure form claiming that she was not aware of any issues with the furnace & a.c. unit. We had the home inspected before buying it, but our inspector was unable to check the furnace and a.c. unit because, the propane tank was empty. So we assumed that the ac and furnace worked. We had a fairly mild summer and didn't need to use the ac. So we waited until the colder temperatures to order a new propane tank and propane. Now the furnace doesn't work. We paid an hvac guy to come out after hours to look at the furnace and he is telling us that the furnace needs a new motor and possibly some other parts. The cost to fix it is going to be at least $500 possibly more if there is anything else wrong with it. We have already paid $103.50 for the service call. Should the seller be held liable for these expenses? On the seller disclosure form she also claimed that she still lived at the residence and she had already moved out. I don't know what to do. I feel like she knew about the issues and tried hiding it. I feel like we were taking advantage of and I'm worried that we will have to completely replace the system which could cost thousands of dollars that we don't have. :( any advice is appreciated.
I don't think you have any recourse. You had no reason not to test the air conditioning. I admit I only know about propane in the portable (RV) context, but the propane being empty would be a huge red flag - why would it be empty, ever? Actually just having propane would be a huge red flag to me - you must live in a very rural area. Anyway I would have assumed the hvac didn't work.

I had to pay $3k for hvac repairs just this year alone - you just have to be prepared for that. Generally I think hvac isn't as long-lasting as it used to be, so you should budget for replacement for the air conditioning part every dozen years or so.

What is really unbelievable is that you lived anywhere in the U.S. and didn't use air conditioning for an entire summer. I sort of understand not having it at all (although that wouldn't be my choice), but having it and not using it, even a few times? That would be an entire year without running it, I can't believe that would be the best thing for the compressor.

livesoft
Posts: 60426
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by livesoft » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:15 am

It is cold in Texas. Use your credit card and get the thing fixed. I think you are responsible and for $500 I personally wouldn't hassle the seller about it unless I had a mean streak in me (which granted, sometimes I do). But it will cost you more than $500 getting money out of the seller.

We just replaced a furnace for $2400 here in Texas. We knew it wasn't working, but even so, we hadn't turned it on the past 2 years. Furnaces seem to be really cheap to me.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

goblue100
Posts: 476
Joined: Sun Dec 01, 2013 10:31 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by goblue100 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:28 am

I've only sold one house and bought two, but when I sold my house the buyer made a stipulation that I provide a one year home warranty, at my expense. I know its too late for that, but good advice for anyone in the future. A good real estate agent should have suggested that to you. At this point you should pay the $500 to get heat, and then you can decide if you want to try to get money from the seller. My opinion is anything not caught pre sale is on you. All the seller has to say is it was working when it sold.
Some people are immune to good advice. - Saul Goodman

RudyS
Posts: 1098
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:11 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by RudyS » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:38 am

Maybe I missed it, but I don't see where OP actually made a request of the seller to pay for the repair. That's the first thing I'd do. If seller refuses, then the above comments have said about all there is to say. Probably too much time has passed.

HoosierJim
Posts: 432
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:11 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by HoosierJim » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:44 am

Doesn't hurt to ask the seller - may be gnawing on their conscience or maybe they are sleeping like a baby every night. Not worth the legal hassle unless there are other missed disclosures.

Not so scare you but the fact that the tank is EMPTY may mean you have a leak somewhere too. Have the lines checked and soap test all the fittings. Also get a couple of these as well as normal smoke detectors throughout your house.


First Alert GCO1CN Combination Explosive Gas and Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Backlit Digital Display

goodlifer
Posts: 285
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by goodlifer » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:47 am

I have bought and sold 4 homes so far and looking for a 5th. The sellers, realtors, and/or inspectors have lied about something in every single transaction. Some times it was something major, like a leaking basement or what school district the house was in. I think that $500 is a cheap price for a valuable lesson, but I also think that you will probably be replacing your HVAC system soon enough, so you should probably start saving up.

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 4407
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii😀 Northern AZ.😳

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:58 am

I bought a 3 story home with central air (zoned) heat/ac systems on each floor. I paid $400 for a marginal home inspector service who ran all of the systems in the house. HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical. I paid for this report so I would have hard copy documentation from a 3rd party. As a contractor -builder, I also did a thorough inspection and check of everything in the home, and noted what was questionable to the home inspection service.

As in buying a used car, no matter the implied or explicit warranties, it is ultimately the buyer who must do due diligence beforehand. As in most sales, contingencies, inspections, disclosures, and remedies, taken care of before the sale are far easier than after-the-fact.

IMHO fixed the systems yourself. Get thorough documentation of services and charges. Then go after who you need to for reimbursement if you feel that the legal costs and time is worth the effort. But at least have the systems repaired first on your own dime so you will be in a comfortable home and also free from potential frost damage when winter comes if it is cold in your area.

I hope this is actionable helpful information for you.
j :D

obgraham
Posts: 1052
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by obgraham » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:04 pm

Let's be serious here. HVAC systems need repairs. $500? Chicken feed for a furnace. Motors, fans, capacitors, circuit boards, compressors -- they all need replacing from time to time.

As my repair guy told me after a nasty repair job -- "well, it's working fine now but nobody can guarantee that something else won't go bad tomorrow!"

The joys of home ownership!

PFInterest
Posts: 1244
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by PFInterest » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:11 pm

buyer beware.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 6829
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:15 pm

If the propane was like the system that was on my house, when I ran out, I'd go to the garage and get out my gas grill tank and hook it up to have a working system temporarily. Even if you had to go buy a new tank and fill it, I certainly would have done that while the inspector continued his work.

I also don't see why he didn't test the AC. Even today (it's 5 degrees outside here), I'd be testing that the ac is working.

If you're looking for blame, I'd put it at 1/3 seller, 1/3 inspector, 1/3 you.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 13335
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Watty » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:16 pm

Just to sleep better at night if you used a real estate agent you can try calling them to find out if there is anything special in your area about things like this.
DNugent wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:28 am
We bought a house which is 30 years old.
How old is the furnace?

That should be on your inspection report but if you can not find it there then there should be a tag on the furnace with the serial number and manufacture date.

If it is 15+ years old then it having problems would not be unusual.

I don't mean to be harsh but if you bought an old furnace without it being tested then that was a mistake.

chevca
Posts: 1464
Joined: Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:22 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by chevca » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:24 pm

What should you do?.... get it fixed, it's gotta be cold there. ☺

It's your house now and six months in you just found this out. There's no way you could show the prior owner knew it didn't work, you didn't get it inspected nor have it looked at in six months, and it could have gone bad since you owned it.... it's your fish to clean at this point.

Spirit Rider
Posts: 7825
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:39 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sat Dec 30, 2017 12:49 pm

As chvca said; a motor is an electrical component. Such components are subject to spontaneous failure, especially when first put under adverse load after sitting unused for six months. You have zero chance of proving this was not working when you purchased the house.

Unfortunately, a significant minority of HVAC technicians are just not capable of troubleshooting electrical/electronic components/systems. I even give it a 10% - 20% chance it is a fuse on the blower circuit board or a thermal overload reset on the motor. The cynical person in me considers if they might even be taking you for a ride. Not unheard of with HVAC contractors.

User avatar
dodecahedron
Posts: 3554
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by dodecahedron » Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:30 pm

When we bought our home in upstate NY (in January) decades ago, we were unable to test the heat and hot water on the walk-through on the morning prior to the afternoon closing because the sellers had allowed the oil tank to run out and neither was functioning. (Obviously it HAD been functioning until quite recently because the house was not bitterly cold. And the furnace was under warranty as it been installed brand new the previous October, only a few months earlier. We had had a thorough inspection by a pro back in November prior to making the offer.)

Sellers assured us that it was just a matter of a simple phone call to the oil supply company (which provided routine service as well as oil deliveries) and all would be well, but our attorney insisted on putting in a stipulation that sufficient funds from the closing would be put into a contingency fund that would not be released until after the oil company's delivery and restart of the system. The sale went through and all was well. (We called the oil company and authorized delivery immediately after the close, but weren't actually planning to move in for another week or so.)

It is too late for you to do something similar and the cost of pursuing this probably outweighs any recovery you might obtain but your case is a cautionary scenario for others.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 15996
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by dm200 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:37 pm

If we ever buy another home (still live in only home purchased almost 40 years ago), I will insist on an inspection and walk through well in advance of closing. Sellers want the walk through just before closing so buyers do not have time to insist on everything being in working order.

tibbitts
Posts: 7502
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:43 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:37 pm
If we ever buy another home (still live in only home purchased almost 40 years ago), I will insist on an inspection and walk through well in advance of closing. Sellers want the walk through just before closing so buyers do not have time to insist on everything being in working order.
Yes but then the house will fall apart in the months before the closing (after the inspection) and you'll have no recourse.

neilpilot
Posts: 1485
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:46 pm
Location: Memphis area

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by neilpilot » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:47 pm

dm200 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:37 pm
If we ever buy another home (still live in only home purchased almost 40 years ago), I will insist on an inspection and walk through well in advance of closing. Sellers want the walk through just before closing so buyers do not have time to insist on everything being in working order.
In my experience, a home purchase typically involves multiple walk thoughts. After the contingency walk through inspection, there may be a follow up walk through to inspect any corrective action resulting from that inspection.

In either case there should be a final walk through just prior to actual closing. This is in addition to the inspection, and is essential to confirm that items included in the sale are still in place.

If you see a significant issue on that final walk through, especially one that was not easily discovered during the inspection, correction can still result in contractual disagreements. As an example, during formal inspection a large area of damaged hardwood floor was hidden by an area rug or other furniture. Now it's visible during final walk through. The seller argues that it was not listed in the formal inspection. The lawyers take over. :wink:

User avatar
CAsage
Posts: 931
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:25 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by CAsage » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:51 pm

I found after buying my house, every bloody thing that I did not personally check, was likely to be busted. There were sprinklers, but I should have actually run them so I would have found out about my midnight geyser sooner. Or the fact that there were multiple doors without a key - apparently they thought giving me the front door key was sufficient (two locksmith bills to unlock those later...). If I ever buy another house, I want hot and cold air blowing, and I will open/close every window, every door, every faucet, fill and drain every sink, tub, etc. Trust no one.
Tragically OP's scenario was suspicious, an empty tank? A home warranty or a holdback for that situation would have been very wise. I think you are out of luck at this point - does the heater look like it ran at all last year?
Salvia Clevelandii "Winifred Gilman" my favorite. YMMV; not a professional advisor.

nclion
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Nov 19, 2017 12:43 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by nclion » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:58 pm

Unfortunately, this falls under the column of lessons learned, pay the cost, learn your lesson, and move on.

Who hired the inspector you or the seller? Seems pretty ridiculous not to have the propane tank filled and have the system fully tested. Hopefully you won't have too many other surprises.

User avatar
dodecahedron
Posts: 3554
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by dodecahedron » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:06 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:11 am
I admit I only know about propane in the portable (RV) context, but the propane being empty would be a huge red flag - why would it be empty, ever? Actually just having propane would be a huge red flag to me - you must live in a very rural area. Anyway I would have assumed the hvac didn't work.
There are quite a few folks in the suburbs around here (Albany/Schenectady/Troy Capital District region of Upstate NY) who use propane. In fact, the leading supplier of propane (the one whose trucks we see most often) is a business that goes by the name of "Suburban Propane."

We actually had Suburban Propane's propane tanks on our property when we moved in this home 28 years ago, though in our case it was only used for heating the swimming pool. (There was an oil furnace and hot water heater inside and there was no natural gas in the street back then.)

After realizing the cost of using propane to heat the pool, we decided to terminate the contract but we used up the existing propane in the tanks (since it was already paid for) and let them drain down to zero before calling Suburban Propane to come pick up their tanks. (Fortunately the company owned them so we were not stuck with costs for removal.)

Similarly, I could imagine the sellers of the OP's home also allowing their propane tanks to go down to zero last spring before the sale, especially as the spring days came along, figuring that the new owners could pay for the propane the following fall. So it wasn't an automatic red flag, just as it wasn't an automatic red flag to us that our sellers had allowed the oil tank to go dry. (Clearly they were trying to train it to close to zero, but they had miscalculated by just a bit.)

But--red flag or not--if you can't successfully test a furnace the day you buy a new home, there ought to be a holdback in the contract.

tibbitts
Posts: 7502
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 6:50 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by tibbitts » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:13 pm

dodecahedron wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:06 pm
tibbitts wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:11 am
I admit I only know about propane in the portable (RV) context, but the propane being empty would be a huge red flag - why would it be empty, ever? Actually just having propane would be a huge red flag to me - you must live in a very rural area. Anyway I would have assumed the hvac didn't work.
There are quite a few folks in the suburbs around here (Albany/Schenectady/Troy Capital District region of Upstate NY) who use propane. In fact, the leading supplier of propane (the one whose trucks we see most often) is a business that goes by the name of "Suburban Propane."

We actually had Suburban Propane's propane tanks on our property when we moved in this home 28 years ago, though in our case it was only used for heating the swimming pool. (There was an oil furnace and hot water heater inside and there was no natural gas in the street back then.)

After realizing the cost of using propane to heat the pool, we decided to terminate the contract but we used up the existing propane in the tanks (since it was already paid for) and let them drain down to zero before calling Suburban Propane to come pick up their tanks. (Fortunately the company owned them so we were not stuck with costs for removal.)

Similarly, I could imagine the sellers of the OP's home also allowing their propane tanks to go down to zero last spring before the sale, especially as the spring days came along, figuring that the new owners could pay for the propane the following fall. So it wasn't an automatic red flag, just as it wasn't an automatic red flag to us that our sellers had allowed the oil tank to go dry. (Clearly they were trying to train it to close to zero, but they had miscalculated by just a bit.)

But--red flag or not--if you can't successfully test a furnace the day you buy a new home, there ought to be a holdback in the contract.
Having lived in Albany for many decades I'm surprised to hear that propane vs. oil is so popular, but in my own case of oil heat in Albany, having an empty tank would be a huge red flag. The tank leaked - it had straps fitted to hold it together. I'd want the tank reasonably full so I could see if it leaked. I mean, if it was empty and I took the pan away (and maybe took the straps off), a buyer would never have known that it leaked.

User avatar
dodecahedron
Posts: 3554
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by dodecahedron » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:22 pm

tibbitts wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:13 pm
Having lived in Albany for many decades I'm surprised to hear that propane vs. oil is so popular, but in my own case of oil heat in Albany, having an empty tank would be a huge red flag. The tank leaked - it had straps fitted to hold it together. I'd want the tank reasonably full so I could see if it leaked. I mean, if it was empty and I took the pan away (and maybe took the straps off), a buyer would never have known that it leaked.
Our house had an underground oil tank, so there would have been no way for us to monitor it for leaks whether it had been full or empty. The tank was buried under a lot of dirt (and several feet of snow on top of the dirt.)

When we eventually converted from oil to natural gas 18 years after buying the house, we did have the tank excavated and inspected for leaks and the surrounding soil was tested for possible contamination by a state-licensed laboratory. Fortunately, it passed the test (and I have made copies, paper and electronic, of that testing to show eventual future buyers.)

As to your surprise about popularity of propane in Capital District suburbs, most of the suburban housing stock is considerably newer than homes in the cities themselves, so perhaps oil is common in Albany itself, but there are lots of folks in the suburbs on propane. (We live in one of the oldest suburban neighborhoods in the area--homes here were built in the 1930s and most, like ours, were originally oil. Fortunately, our neighborhood eventually got natural gas lines put in and we were able to switch. But there are lots of folks in less dense suburbs where natural gas lines are not viable and propane is.)
Last edited by dodecahedron on Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:22 pm

Could be worse. I had a home warranty when I bought my 30+ year old home, but the warranty company refused to replace the HVAC transition duct even though it had a hole in it. It still "worked" in their books because air still came out of the vents (and out on the roof). They refused to fix many things, but that one sticks out the most. About the only thing they did fix was the HVAC controller when it went out, but even that took weeks in the middle of winter.

Since the house was part of an estate, I doubt the sellers intentionally mislead me. They just didn't know what their deceased mother's house was really like and they didn't realize the home warranty company is relatively worthless. All together, it was about $5000 to fix all the things the home warranty company refused to fix and I also probably should have ponied up the cash for the HVAC controller rather than live around space heaters while waiting for the warranty company to repair it.

Unexpected repairs is just one of the costs of buying an older home. Be glad it's under $1000. I'd recommend just paying it and getting on with life.

letsgobobby
Posts: 11195
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by letsgobobby » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:26 pm

Presumably you had an inspection contingency. You then waived the inspection contingency based on the inspection you paid for. It sounds like it wasn’t a very good inspection, but you accepted it.

I think you buy a furnace and move on.

IMO
Posts: 267
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:01 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by IMO » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:29 pm

DNugent wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:28 am
The seller checked "no" on the seller disclosure form claiming that she was not aware of any issues with the furnace & a.c. unit. We had the home inspected before buying it, but our inspector was unable to check the furnace and a.c. unit because, the propane tank was empty. So we assumed that the ac and furnace worked. We had a fairly mild summer and didn't need to use the ac. So we waited until the colder temperatures to order a new propane tank and propane. Now the furnace doesn't work. :( any advice is appreciated.
Honestly, it is possible the seller lied. I suppose that should not come as a surprise for the vast majority of society. (I've seen people on this site okay to hide/lie/not disclose about car issues prior to selling). However, you missed your opportunity to have the seller get the propane tank filled so that the inspector could check the furnace prior to closing on the property.

What I'm having trouble with is the AC unit checked even without propane? Did the inspectors form specifically say incorrectly that the AC unit could not be tested when in fact the AC unit could be tested? If he did say that, did he check the AC working and just documented "incorrectly" that both AC/furnace couldn't be checked, or did he willfully hide that the AC didn't work? So if in a very reasonable time frame you found out the AC didn't work, you MIGHT? be able to take the inspector to small claims court for the AC issue (but NOT the furnace issue).

But here's the problem, you presumably never felt the need to use AC in the summer, even to test the system or help keep the seals lubricated. And then you find out months and months later (after summer) that the AC doesn't work. No way in my view would a small claims judge believe you, and even in my opinion, that judge shouldn't. Far as the judge would know, you did use your AC in the summer, perhaps daily.

I think it's a live and learn at this point. Think of it as the house you bought is costing you perhaps a few thousand more than you paid. I suspect you probably wouldn't have walked away if the selling price was $2-3K higher?

A few years ago, on a home we were buying had signs of a small roof leak. General home inspection says roof looks fine. We go a step further and self pay for an actual roofer to inspect, he says it's fine. 2 years later, a leak develops in the roof (in the exact same area) causing some damage to dry wall below. Insurance company inspects and claims "faulty workmanship" or something on the roofing that was to blame. So essentially, we get stuck with the $2k cost. Could I have gone back and tried to sue for "missing" a problem? Would have been likely just a waste of my time and more money.

Live/learn and sometimes that's life . . . .

ResearchMed
Posts: 6228
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:32 pm

When we purchased an antique home, we knew that "things would be happening".

However, I walked along side the home inspector, and had him point out just about everything he was looking at, in addition to writing the report. (Yup, it took longer; I asked lots of questions.)

But we couldn't really test the AC due to temperature, so we had some money put in escrow (a few thousand) until such a time as it could be checked with real use.
I'm sure the sellers figured that money was gone. However, the AC worked just fine, and we released their money.
(I've never had a "dispute" about some escrow like this, but I assume that someone would have double checked that the AC really didn't work, before signing off on the release of that money to *us*. The sellers were diplomats who were reposted overseas on short notice, so they weren't anywhere nearby. We later visited them, and brought them photos of new landscaping. Fun.)

There were also a few things they left in the attic, so we had a few hundred also escrowed.
After we moved in, we had "some guys" remove the "stuff", and again, we released/returned about half of the smaller amount that had been escrowed for that.

Can one even get a home warranty on a very old house?

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

Pinotage
Posts: 218
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:02 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Pinotage » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:07 pm

livesoft wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:15 am
It is cold in Texas.
Probably colder in Ohio, though.

livesoft
Posts: 60426
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by livesoft » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:08 pm

Pinotage wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:07 pm
livesoft wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:15 am
It is cold in Texas.
Probably colder in Ohio, though.
Yep, my reading comprehension ain't what it used to be.
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Mudpuppy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:18 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:32 pm
Can one even get a home warranty on a very old house?
On a very old house? Maybe not. But the OP's house is only 30 years old. It's very easy to get a warranty on a 30 year old house. Getting the warranty company to actually fix things is another matter entirely.

cas
Posts: 267
Joined: Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:41 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by cas » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:32 pm

First - It is predicted to be brutally cold in Ohio - below zero lows all week. That is dangerous cold. Get the furnace fixed, or, if you can't do that in time, please drain all your pipes (otherwise you will have much worse problems than a $500 furnace repair) and seek shelter someplace with heat. If you have no place you can go, your basement may at least stay above freezing.

Second - there was a significant snow last night in much of Ohio. First thing to check if your furnace fails after a snowfall is that the air intake pipe isn't clogged with snow. (I'm unclear on the timing of you discovering that the furnace wouldn't start. Did you just discover that your furnace doesn't work today? Been using some sort of single-room-based supplemental heat until now maybe?) The most common reason my furnace has failed over the years is that the air intake pipe gets clogged with snow or ice. The furnace will prevent the motor from turning over if it senses there is no source of oxygen to light the propane, so you will have "motor problems" if the air intake pipe is clogged. Just in case the furnace repair guy was incompetent or dishonest, go find the air intake pipe on the outside of your house (it should be sticking out the side (not the roof) somewhere) and make sure it isn't clogged with snow or ice. You can fix that yourself. If possible, and this really is the first time you have attempted to start the furnace this year, shine a flashlight down the pipe and make sure there isn't a bird or wasp nest clogging it.

(We had the bird nest problem this year. Furnace still didn't start after the bird nest was removed, so we called the furnace repair guy. There was a mummified baby bird - apparently one with a bad sense of direction - jamming the induction fan in the furnace motor. Apparently this is not uncommon.)

Please stay safe.
Last edited by cas on Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
jfn111
Posts: 905
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:42 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by jfn111 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:35 pm

Sadly, Sellers lie all the time. That's why we have the Buyer's get an inspection. The Inspection of course is only as good as the Inspector.
A home warranty wouldn't have done any good because the covered items have to be "proven" to be in working order at closing. The first thing the warranty company asks for is the inspection report so they can see that the inspector tested the covered item. This comes up a lot with washers, dryers and dishwashers. The warranty company wants to see that the inspector ran them through complete cycles prior to signing off on the report.

likegarden
Posts: 2559
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by likegarden » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:17 pm

You need to get it checked out and repaired! This is part of owning any house.
For the future, you need to get furnace and AC checked every year. We pay $250 per year for those checks and live in a small town in the Northeast. Our furnace is with natural gas, 2 years old and might last 20 years. The AC is 3 years old and I understand that major parts will need replacement every 10 years.

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3053
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by lthenderson » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:39 pm

DNugent wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:28 am
The seller checked "no" on the seller disclosure form claiming that she was not aware of any issues with the furnace & a.c. unit.

Should the seller be held liable for these expenses?

I feel like she knew about the issues and tried hiding it. I feel like we were taking advantage of and I'm worried that we will have to completely replace the system which could cost thousands of dollars that we don't have. :( any advice is appreciated.
If I had a dollar for every time in my life I have turned the heater on in the fall or the A/C in the summer and it didn't work when it had worked perfectly the following season, I would be a handful of dollars richer. That is why I typically check to verify they are in working order a month or so before I expect to use them so if they need repaired, I can get it done promptly versus waiting in line with the hundreds of others in your shoes who waited until they needed it to turn it on the first time. Ask any HVAC repair person and they will tell you the same thing. Electronics and motors can and do fail in the off season.

riverguy
Posts: 342
Joined: Sun May 23, 2010 10:33 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by riverguy » Sat Dec 30, 2017 5:54 pm

Your fault for a poor inspection. Impossible to prove seller knew anything about it and it’s been six months since you have bought the house. How would the seller know you didn’t do something to cause the issues or if the parts in question failed during your period of ownership?

Why did you not request the seller fill the propane tank? Contracts typically state that utilities must be on for inspection. Even if it wasn’t in the contract why would you not request it?

blmarsha123
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2015 4:23 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by blmarsha123 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:04 pm

jfn111 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:35 pm
The Inspection of course is only as good as the Inspector.
Exactly!

Inspector of my current home was worthless. Spent more time telling me what he couldn't inspect than actual inspecting. Big glossy report full of nothing. Complete waste of time and money. Contrast with inspection of prior home, done by someone knowledgeable, helpful and thorough. Miles apart.

Nate79
Posts: 2337
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2016 6:24 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Nate79 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:52 pm

I agree with the other posters that you should pay and move on. You are in for a rude awakening if you are worried about $500. Just wait until you find something serious that fails.

Dave55
Posts: 308
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:51 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Dave55 » Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:53 pm

DNugent wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:28 am
We recently moved back home to Ohio from Texas. We bought a house which is 30 years old. The seller checked "no" on the seller disclosure form claiming that she was not aware of any issues with the furnace & a.c. unit. We had the home inspected before buying it, but our inspector was unable to check the furnace and a.c. unit because, the propane tank was empty. So we assumed that the ac and furnace worked. We had a fairly mild summer and didn't need to use the ac. So we waited until the colder temperatures to order a new propane tank and propane. Now the furnace doesn't work. We paid an hvac guy to come out after hours to look at the furnace and he is telling us that the furnace needs a new motor and possibly some other parts. The cost to fix it is going to be at least $500 possibly more if there is anything else wrong with it. We have already paid $103.50 for the service call. Should the seller be held liable for these expenses? On the seller disclosure form she also claimed that she still lived at the residence and she had already moved out. I don't know what to do. I feel like she knew about the issues and tried hiding it. I feel like we were taking advantage of and I'm worried that we will have to completely replace the system which could cost thousands of dollars that we don't have. :( any advice is appreciated.
Since you signed off on the inspection, contingencies and thereby agreed to buy the house as is 6 months ago, and then closed on it, I would repair the furnace and get on with your life.
Dave

Dudley
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue May 09, 2017 5:34 am

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Dudley » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:10 pm

I would get a second HVAC opinion as to fault. Its unusual a motor itself would die (that together with "may need some other parts"...) . May be something much simpler.
(I'm just inherently suspicious of HVAC people - in my experience usually incompetent or crooks)

goodlifer
Posts: 285
Joined: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by goodlifer » Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:14 pm

2015 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:58 pm

goodlifer, I for one knew you weren't referring to yourself in your post :oops:. Would you please be so kind as to relate some of the misrepresentations made to you? Having not bought in several years, I will be selling/buying again in the next couple of years and would be most interested in your experiences (perhaps to use as a sort of heads-up checklist during my upcoming transactions).
Sure I would, although some of the earlier problems I had are easily avoided now that we can check things on the internet. I learned the hard way to be present for each and every inspection, whether I am the buyer or seller, and ask questions. The inspector for my first home only did a drive by and told us that everything was fine. The balcony was not attached properly and a giant hornets nest was lodged between the balcony and the building, so I wouldn't close until it was fixed. Thankfully, I was living with my parents so I had the luxury of closing whenever I wanted. The sellers also said that the association fees were locked for 2 years, and they were not. They raised them two months after I moved. So lesson #2 is get everything in writing. The buyers on my second house somehow had the inspector note that our roof needed replacing. The house was 5 years old. After questioning the buyer and the inspector, we found out that the wife just didn't like the roof color and wanted us to pay for a different one. There should be laws about things like that. There was a house where we paid for a radon test and the sellers didn't follow protocol so they passed the test, and then when we went to sell, we had to install a $1,000 mitigation system. So #4 is to write in a clause that states any testing is done after closing and seller pays if it doesn't pass. We were also lied to a lot by our own realtors just to get a sale. We were told one house was in a certain school district and it wasn't. We asked about an open field that could be seen from our yard. She told us that it was part of a farm and not buildable. There was plans to build a strip mall on it, actually. Lucky for us, the plan fell through. And a small street that stopped in front of our house looked like it could have been extended to who knows where. We were told she asked the city and they couldn't extend it anywhere. You guessed it! There were plans to extend it to a major street and add a lot of traffic in front of my house. So now I know to double check everything, either online or in person at city hall. I think the most expensive mistake was believing our inspector against my better judgement. I saw that the basement was damp and asked the inspector. The seller said that she had just used the pressure washer to water her plants outside and "that must be it". I noted that the mulch wasn't disturbed, the flowers were not destroyed, and the outside of the house wasn't wet, but the inspector convinced me that the pressure washer was indeed the problem, and of course we had a pool in the basement the first time it rained. So my final lesson is that if it doesn't make sense to you, you are probably being lied to. And never use an inspector that your realtor suggests.

In short, trust your instincts, get everything in writing, verify everything yourself, and be prepared to walk away. We had to walk away from a house we wanted because the homeowners wouldn't accept an offer with an inspection clause. We noticed that the upstairs light fixture over the bath tub was removed and there were water stains on the ceiling, so we knew something was going on. There were other little things, like a tilt to one room and such. We felt comfortable with withdrawing our offer.

quantAndHold
Posts: 1701
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:22 pm

blmarsha123 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:04 pm
jfn111 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:35 pm
The Inspection of course is only as good as the Inspector.
Exactly!

Inspector of my current home was worthless. Spent more time telling me what he couldn't inspect than actual inspecting. Big glossy report full of nothing. Complete waste of time and money. Contrast with inspection of prior home, done by someone knowledgeable, helpful and thorough. Miles apart.
There is a wide range of ability in home inspectors. We had a sale nearly blow up once because the buyer didn’t come along when the inspection was being done. The inspection happened. The buyer asked for a few low cost fixes based on the inspection report. We did the fixes. Right before closing, the total newbie buyer, who has never owned a house before, comes for the walkthrough, and finds a bunch of stuff, some expensive, that the inspector missed, and freaks out.

How did the buyer find more stuff than an experienced inspector?

We fixed a couple more things and bought the buyers a home warranty, and the sale went through. But it was touch and go for a couple of days.

On the other hand, the buyers of our most recent house got a fantastic inspection. We chatted with them during the walkthrough. They knew more about the house than we did, and we had been living in the house for four years.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 45036
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by LadyGeek » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:58 pm

I removed some posts which may have been misinterpreted (which party was misrepresenting the situation). The discussion was getting derailed. As a reminder, see: General Etiquette
We expect this forum to be a place where people can feel comfortable asking questions and where debates and discussions are conducted in civil tones.
Please state your concerns in a clear, factual manner.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 5889
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by Mudpuppy » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:15 am

The quality of home inspectors varies wildly, but finding one that is part of a national association or regional association can help. This article has an overall summary of the current state of national home inspector associations: http://structuretech1.com/qa-whats-the- ... nizations/

I had two very different inspection experiences. The more thorough inspector was associated with one of the above national organizations and stated such in his report. The less thorough inspector was part of a national chain with a local franchise, but listed no membership or certifications with the national organizations. Not surprisingly, the former company is still in business while the later company is not.

2015
Posts: 1407
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:32 pm

Re: We bought a house in June, and the ac & furnace system do not work. What should we do?

Post by 2015 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:37 am

goodlifer wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:14 pm
2015 wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:58 pm

goodlifer, I for one knew you weren't referring to yourself in your post :oops:. Would you please be so kind as to relate some of the misrepresentations made to you? Having not bought in several years, I will be selling/buying again in the next couple of years and would be most interested in your experiences (perhaps to use as a sort of heads-up checklist during my upcoming transactions).
Sure I would, although some of the earlier problems I had are easily avoided now that we can check things on the internet. I learned the hard way to be present for each and every inspection, whether I am the buyer or seller, and ask questions. The inspector for my first home only did a drive by and told us that everything was fine. The balcony was not attached properly and a giant hornets nest was lodged between the balcony and the building, so I wouldn't close until it was fixed. Thankfully, I was living with my parents so I had the luxury of closing whenever I wanted. The sellers also said that the association fees were locked for 2 years, and they were not. They raised them two months after I moved. So lesson #2 is get everything in writing. The buyers on my second house somehow had the inspector note that our roof needed replacing. The house was 5 years old. After questioning the buyer and the inspector, we found out that the wife just didn't like the roof color and wanted us to pay for a different one. There should be laws about things like that. There was a house where we paid for a radon test and the sellers didn't follow protocol so they passed the test, and then when we went to sell, we had to install a $1,000 mitigation system. So #4 is to write in a clause that states any testing is done after closing and seller pays if it doesn't pass. We were also lied to a lot by our own realtors just to get a sale. We were told one house was in a certain school district and it wasn't. We asked about an open field that could be seen from our yard. She told us that it was part of a farm and not buildable. There was plans to build a strip mall on it, actually. Lucky for us, the plan fell through. And a small street that stopped in front of our house looked like it could have been extended to who knows where. We were told she asked the city and they couldn't extend it anywhere. You guessed it! There were plans to extend it to a major street and add a lot of traffic in front of my house. So now I know to double check everything, either online or in person at city hall. I think the most expensive mistake was believing our inspector against my better judgement. I saw that the basement was damp and asked the inspector. The seller said that she had just used the pressure washer to water her plants outside and "that must be it". I noted that the mulch wasn't disturbed, the flowers were not destroyed, and the outside of the house wasn't wet, but the inspector convinced me that the pressure washer was indeed the problem, and of course we had a pool in the basement the first time it rained. So my final lesson is that if it doesn't make sense to you, you are probably being lied to. And never use an inspector that your realtor suggests.

In short, trust your instincts, get everything in writing, verify everything yourself, and be prepared to walk away. We had to walk away from a house we wanted because the homeowners wouldn't accept an offer with an inspection clause. We noticed that the upstairs light fixture over the bath tub was removed and there were water stains on the ceiling, so we knew something was going on. There were other little things, like a tilt to one room and such. We felt comfortable with withdrawing our offer.
This is outstanding! Thanks so much for your detailed response. I'm going to bookmark this very useful thread to use during my next home buying.

Post Reply