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The HVAC System Can Make Your Ugly Wife Hot [2023]

BY Steve Rodriguez

But only when the HVAC system has the heat on.

There are 5 major areas in every home.  And no matter how big or how old it is, they are always the same:

1. Foundation
2. Plumbing
3. Roof
4. Electrical

These 5 areas also make up our Major-Items Inspection and form the basis of our discussion at the end of every inspection because they not only mean the most to me, but to everyone else who’s ever bought a home.

And when it comes to feeling comfortable in your own home, that means the HVAC systems.  These are the things that keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

In Kansas City, that means air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, and sometimes even boilers. 

Let’s talk about the basics of what these are, how they work, where you’ll find them, and how long they’ll last.

Then we’ll talk about how they get inspected.

HVAC Heating Systems


Either gas or electric, these units deliver heat to your living spaces and the size of the unit (measured in BTU’s) depends on the size of the home.

Lifespan: 20-25 years

Air-to-air heat pump

Air-To-Air Heat Pump

This is an air conditioner that works in reverse.  It provides both cooling and heating to your home from the same piece of equipment (if you’ve ever seen an a/c running in the winter, that was a heat pump).

In heat mode, it extracts hot air from the cold air outside to heat your home. 

It’s efficient down to about 35° F.  Lower than that and it starts to cost more than $1 to get $1 worth of heat.  

As the temperature continues to drop, the thermostat will automatically switch to the furnace for heat.

Lifespan:  20-25 years

Geothermal (Ground Source) Heat Pump

Instead of using outside air, this type of heat pump exchanges energy with the ground, which is a constant 60°all year round in Kansas City. 

Since a heat pump is efficient down to 35°, that makes this design greater than 100% efficient.

The only downside is that it’s expensive. 

Prices range from $12k-$45k based on size, type, ground conditions, and location.

Lifespan:  25-50 years

Geothermal heat pump
Residential boiler


Boilers were used in Kansas City around the turn of the 19th century and believe it or not, there are still some alive today. 

They’re mainly used as a backup heat source, but a lot of historic homes still use hot water radiant heat as their primary heat source (which happens to be a great way to heat a home full of wood floors, wood trim, wood ceilings, and wood furniture).

One thing has changed, though.  They were originally fueled by coal, today they’ve all been converted to natural gas.

Lifespan: 50-75 years

HVAC Cooling Systems

Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Air conditioners and heat pumps are essentially the same thing with the exception of a reversing valve. 

The reversing valve is inside the exterior unit and lets the heat pump reverse the flow of refrigerant so that it’s able to provide both heating and cooling from the same unit. 

This allows the unit to take the cold air from the hot air and use it to cool your home.

Lifespan:  20-25 years.

ac condenser unit
A/C unit
Heat pump reversing valve

“Is My A/C too small”

The answer is not that simple because your A/C does 2 things:

1) It cools the home 
2) It removes humidity

If the a/c is too big, the HVAC systems shuts off as soon as the temperature is reached.

But it doesn’t run long enough to remove moisture from the air.  So your home is clammy and uncomfortable.

If the HVAC systems is slightly undersized, it might run longer, but it’s doing a better job.

Moral of the story:  Sometimes smaller is better.

By the way, it takes about 1 ton to cool 500 sq.ft. of Kansas City living space.

Photo of author


Steve Rodriguez is a Certified Master Inspector® and the owner of Bulldog Professional Inspection Services. He will perform your home inspection and has personally uncovered tens-of-thousands of defects in 14,000+ Kansas City properties since 2003.

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