Q: I just bought a new construction house and the furnace is too small. Can we make the builder replace it with the proper one? We have only lived here for six months.

A: How do you know that the furnace is too small? Is your house cold? Are there parts of your home that simply won’t warm up?

You should have your furnace checked out by a licensed heating contractor who can assess how big the furnace is relative to the size of your property and whether it is adequate to heat the home.

If the furnace is the right size, the heating contractor may need to balance the system. Sometimes heating systems require seasonal changes that can send more hot air to certain parts of the home during the winter and send cold air to other areas in the summer. The problem could be something as simple as your vents in some rooms may be partially or completely closed, or installed incorrectly.

If the furnace is the right size, but one room is cold, you might simply need a space heater or perhaps additional insulation to keep the area at the right temperature.

If the furnace is too small for the home, and the builder should have installed a larger size, you should consult with an attorney who specializes in construction litigation. The attorney can advise you whether you should sue the builder or pursue him in small claims court.

A final thought: Did you have your new home professionally inspected before you closed? A good home inspector should have caught the problem of a too-small furnace before you actually put your money down on the table, and you would have had a lot more leverage to force the builder to replace the inadequately sized furnace unit.

March 5, 2004