Remodel & Renovate in 20852>Question Details

Bernadette, Both Buyer and Seller in Maryland

Old house sold as is with oil furnace and water heater baseboards. What should I be concerned?

Asked by Bernadette, Maryland Wed Apr 25, 2012

I am looking at an old home (in the suburb, not farmland area) built in 1959, it has water heater baseboard, oil furnace. It is sold as is. I want to learn more about that heating/cooling system (know what I should expect in terms of repairs) to decide if I want to go ahead with the house. Any advice for me? thank you

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Hi Mary,

The oil systems usually last forever but may not be the most efficient or what you want. Bring in not only a home inspector but a general contractor to get detailed estimates on any work you want to do to bring the house up to your standards. You can then decide what your best price is for the house and if you have the funds or the desire to tackle that project. There are some loan types (FHA 203K) that will allow you to finance the cost of any improvements right into the loan. And it doesn't have to just be functional stuff. Want granite countertops or wood floors? They'll consider that too!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 26, 2012
In 1959, Hot water base board heat w/t domestic hot water was considered very desirable.
You should request an inspection by a certified service technician to assure safety and functionality.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 26, 2012
Yes, heating systems are a major issue. 1st ask your Realtor to pull all homes within 1 mile that offer the same heating systems. If it is an issue, reconsider buying the home or determine the cost to change the heating system. In most cases you will not be able to change them because they will need duct work, etc. I just appraised a home in my area with baseboard heating. Match comps with gas, forced air vs baseboard heating in this area was a $20,000 dollar price difference.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 26, 2012
Hi Mary,

An old oil furnace providing baseboard heat is a great way to heat a home. It provides moist healthy heat so no need for a humidifier or constantly replacing filters in the furnace. It is true that the oil tank can be a big liability if it has leaks or is not pressurized properly.

It also depends on the neighborhood conditions and whether or not there are other homes selling with similar heating systems. As a licensed realtor and a certified appraiser, I would be happy to review the neighborhood sales for you and see what heating systems other homes in the area are using.

Lastly, you would need to get the oil tank inspected regardless of the as-is sale to protect yourself from a leaky nightmare.

Please let me know how I can be of further assistance.


David Lipsman
REALTOR / Certified Appraiser
Long and Foster, Inc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 26, 2012
I have sold homes with home inspections in Silver Spring with oil furnaces from the 60's that were fine. I will say they built furnaces in the 50's and 60's to last otherwise the system would have already been replaced. My first question to you is did you have a home inspection on the home? Hopefully you did and what did the home inspectors report say?

You certainly need to be prepared to replace the oil furnace with a newer oil furnace and by all means "Buy" a home warranty.

The serious issue for you is the oil tank, is it below ground or in the utility room or the garage? If the oil tank is below ground the tank absolutely should be inspected for leaks. A oil tank inspection costs $450.00 and it a pressure test of the tank. If the tank fails the pressure test Maryland
EPA is called and the fun begins.

Greg Myers
RE/MAX Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 25, 2012
Mary, this is a great question and would depend upon the operating condition. When buying a home, this is one of the many reasons to work with a realtor who can arrange a home inspection to answer these types of concerns.
Generally speaking, this is one of the best systems available if in good operating condition.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 25, 2012
Hi Mary - Even if the home is sold 'as-is', you still want to have the entire home inspected. Since this type of system is uncommon, and more complicated that standard forced-air systems that are in 95%+ of the homes out there, you would be well served to have a heating technician with specialized experience with this type of system. So, you would have this guy look specifically at the system in addition to a general home inspector.

I wouldn't necessarily rule out the home because it has this type of system. If it's in good working condition, then you may really enjoy this type of heating. On the other hand, if it's in poor condition, the cost to repair could be a lot more expensive. And retrofitting older houses to accommodate a common forced-air system (with an air handler, furnace/heatpump and ductwork) can be prohibitively expensive.

Good luck with your purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 25, 2012
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