What is the FHA Rule for Heating and Cooling Systems?

Confused about the FHA Rule for Heating and Cooling Systems?

FHA Requirements For Heating and CoolingI’ve received a lot of calls recently regarding the FHA rule for heating and cooling systems. You may have wondered what FHA heat source requirements are or what is considered a permanent heat source. Does FHA require central heat and air? Today we’re going to look at what the FHA Single Family Housing Policy Handbooks says about this often confusing topic.

FHA heating and cooling system requirements

During an appraisal observation (when the appraiser visits your home, also known as the appraisal inspection) the appraiser will check out the heating and cooling system. The FHA handbook has no specific requirements regarding air conditioning other than it must work if it is present. However, there are detailed guidelines for the heating system.

Generally speaking, a heating system must provide for healthful and comfortable living conditions regardless of what type of system it is or what type of fuel it uses. It must also meet the safety, soundness, and security rule for FHA properties.

The heat source must meet the following guidelines:

1) It must heat all living areas to a minimum of 50 degrees- The heating system must heat all living areas to a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, it must also heat all non-living areas where there are building components that are subject to freezing or that would not function due to the low temperature.

2) It must provide healthful and comfortable heat- While this is somewhat vague just keep in mind that you would not want the heat source or fuel to produce some foul odor or fumes that would be unhealthy to be around.

3) It must be safe to operate- The health of the occupant must not be put at risk to operate the heat source. In addition, the safety of the home must not be jeopardized since it is the collateral for the loan.

4) The fuel source must be readily obtainable- If the fuel source is difficult to obtain then it might become difficult to maintain healthful and comfortable living conditions for the occupants. This would no doubt affect the ability to maintain a temperature that would protect critical system components and prevent items such as pipes from freezing.

5) The heating system must be acceptable to the local market- This guideline helps the subject property main marketability in case it is foreclosed on and needs to be sold. If the heating system is uncommon for the area and has limited appeal it would be difficult to sell which is not what the bank wants.

6) The heating system must operate without human intervention- Again, being able to operate without human intervention helps to maintain a constant and steady temperature to ensure healthy and comfortable living as well as protection from freezing. Having a wood burning fireplace or wood stove as the only heat source would not meet this guideline because it would be necessary to monitor the fuel and temperature.

7) The heating system must be permanently installed- Any heat source that could be easily removed does not qualify for several reasons. If the heat source can be easily removed it would probably be considered personal property, which cannot be included in an appraisal. If it can be removed it could negatively impact the value of the property in many ways including potential damage to components due to low temperature.

After speaking with a representative with HUD in one of their Home Ownership Centers (HOC) they suggested several options. In-wall heating units or baseboard heating would qualify as an alternative to a central system. If you have any FHA questions I highly recommend calling the HOC at (800) 225-5342.

Is central air conditioning necessary to meet FHA requirements?

Central air conditioning is not necessary to meet FHA heating and cooling system guidelines. The only rule that HUD has regarding central air is that if the house has it, it must work. The appraiser is required to note what is wrong with it and how the condition affects the home’s value and marketability in addition to the cost to repair it.

Do you have any other questions about FHA heating and cooling system requirements? If you have any questions feel free to contact me and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. Brenda Harrison says

    I had an appraisal done recently and one of the problems I am having is the heat source. I have thermostat controlled propane heaters in the kitchen, master bedroom These are permanently attached with copper lines. In The living area is a Hugh propane fireplace with thermostat control It would take 3 grown men to move this thing. It heats great. Here is the big problem. I don’t have heaters in the two upstairs bedrooms and bath. I am considering putting thermostat control baseboard heater up there. I am doing a reverse mortgage and the appraiser is saying I have to put in a permanent heat source meaning a central heat source and I don’t have the money for that. I have a wood stove as a secondary heat source. She says the propane is not a permanent heat source. I very confused about what is required. If I am doing the 203 loan and can make these changes (the baseboard heaters upstairs) after we close why is she holding my loan back. I am so confused

    • You would need to have a permanent heat source upstairs in the two upstairs bedrooms and bathroom so that the minimum heat temperature is met. I would recommend that you call 1-800-Call FHA to ask them if the heat source you use is permanent. To me it sounds like it is if it meets the guidelines. I would call FHA to make sure and then ask them for the information in writing to provide to the appraiser and your lender.

  2. Jamie Masengale says

    Question! We are in the middle of closing & was approved for an FHA loan. Would monitor heat be an acceptable form of permanent heat? The home has HVAC but the air works & heat don’t so a monitor heater was installed. Would FHA approve that? I’m in NC.

    • From my understanding of how a monitor heater works I believe that it would quality, however, to be sure you may want to check with HUD/FHA by calling them at 1-800-CallFHA.

  3. Kelly Vottero says

    Hi Tom, I am a current homeowner looking to convert my single car garage to a bedroom. For my heat source I was wanting to put in a “built into the wall” electric fireplace. Coverage stated by the product is actually 1000 square feet which is more than my single car garage square footage. It is 1400 watt, 120 volt 15 amp and is thermostat controlled.

    The reason I was wanting to go with this is that is cool to touch, has safety shut off, thermal overload protection, CSA certified and UL listed. It is a product made in Canada. The garage sits over a room in my basement so is not sitting on a cement pad or crawl space. Room under the garage temperature year sits at round is 58-72 degrees. Walls and ceiling of the garage will meet code of R19 insulation. I was told by my planner that electric fireplaces do not meet code, I would have to put in a split mini or electric baseboard heat. I am concerned with electric baseboard heat since I have a young grandchild at my house at times. Not a fan of split mini’s

    This unit would be in-wall mount. Is this correct that it would not meet code? Located in New Mexico.
    Thanks for your input.

    • Areas vary as to what is acceptable. Your planner would be more knowledgeable about what is acceptable in your area than I would so I would most likely go with what they say. I understand your concern about the safety of your grandchild but the baseboard heat may be safer than you think. I would encourage you to look into it further as most systems these days take safety very seriously. Good luck.

  4. Luis capeles says

    I’m thinking of purchasing a home thru fha it has old radiator heater will this pass fha inspection also I been doing many research that many old home they used asbestos back in time around heat water pipes .. is this something the fha inspector will look for in this types of heat system?

    • As long as the radiator heat meets the local building code, meets minimum heat requirements, and is self-regulating it should pass. The presence of asbestos could possibly present some problems. I would recommend contact FHA directly to find out what their requirements are as they are somewhat vague about how if and how it should be removed. Their phone number is 800-CALL FHA.

  5. Hi Tom, we’re preparing for appraisal inspection ASAP for our triplex in LA, CA. I just learned today that a permanent heat source is required in order to pass the FHA Refi & unfortunately they’re all out when we bought the property in 2007. We’re providing our tenants w/ portable heater since. I learned from ur column about the baseboard heater & I’m considering of installing them in all 3 units, instead of hard wiring an electric recessed fireplace,
    w/c u said is secondary heat source. Do I need to install 1 in every room (2 BR each) or 1 can be enough in 720 sqf ? We’re really in a tight budget. I luv ur blog, very informative. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the kind words. As I stated in the post, the source of heat must provide a minimum temperature of 50 degrees. The heat source must be permanent and it must be self regulating so that it does not have to be monitored by someone.

  6. Rochelle Brenes says

    Buying a home sold as is. Is there a law which states the heater has to work properly?
    Am in Los Angeles County CA. The existing heater does not work at all.

    • I am located in Alabama so the laws in your state may be different, however, it is my understanding that if a home is sold as-is then there is no requirement that it works.

  7. I have an SBA disaster relocation loan and found an English house that was converted to an Amish house that is on the market. It still has wiring and outlet/switches but they took out the breaker box and removed the furnace. How will an inspection go if I am going to get the electric and furnace put back but they currently live there? Is there any way it can go through? It’s a nice well built home.

    • You may be able to get a 203K FHA renovation loan. This would allow you to purchase the home and make the renovations after the loan closes. A traditional FHA would require the house to meet FHA guidelines before you purchase it. I would speak to a loan officer who is familiar with FHA loans and especially the 203K type.

  8. Tammy Jordan says

    I have (had) electric baseboard heat. I had an electrician come in and remove my panel to the outside of the house and update it from fuses. Well, this winter we had no heat. No company will come to fix it. They say it is too dangerous and outdated. Can I offer a seller money to install central heating in order for them to get an FHA loan?

  9. Kathleen says

    Hi there, we’ve been searching for a house and found one in which one of the upstairs rooms does not have a heating element in it. Would this still pass inspection as all the rest of the house is heated and works well?

    • I assume by the heating element you mean an HVAC vent in it? Depending on the size of the house and whether the room is adequately heated and cooled it may be okay. There is no specific FHA rule that I know of that says this does not meet FHA guidelines. To be absolutely sure I would recommend calling FHA to find out if it meets would pass. Their phone number is 1-800-CALL-FHA.

  10. I just got an appraisal back that states “safety wall missing in garage around furnace, cost to cure $500”. My lender and realtor have not a single idea what this means and 1 week later and still no response from the appraiser with clarification or specifications. This is to be addressed for obtaining FHA loan. Do you have any idea what this safety wall might be?

    • Thanks for your question. The only thing I can think of is that it might be a firewall that slows down a fire should it occur. This might be a local code requirement so I would suggest checking with the local building department and also FHA. You can reach the HUD Home Ownership Center that covers your area at 1-800-CALL-FHA. Tell them you are a homeowner and have an FHA appraisal question. They should be able to answer it for you.

  11. Dolores Whitesell says

    If you rent in a ten story hud building are there laws when the heat goes off and the air goes on? I always thought heat goes on in October and air goes on in April

  12. Terry Turner says

    Looking at a home built in 1945. Want an FHA loan, so am concerned about the sole gas heat source. Each room has a wall-installed Ceramic Grid heater (I’d only had them in bathrooms before this.). I now know this will not pass inspection.. I had planned to remove the part that turns the gas on and use portable oil radiators. I now know this will not pass inspection.

    My specific question is this – – will I have to remove all the wall heaters? If so, will the bathroom heaters have to go also.?

    Another question – it does get hot during summer days, but it does have ceiling fans throughout. If window heat pumps are installed in all needed rooms, will that pass inspection?


    • The wall heaters will not have to be removed as long as it does not affect the health, safety, or well being of any occupants. Window heat pumps would not be acceptable for FHA financing because they are portable and could be removed.

      • Was wondering what the FHA rules were in florida? Buying a house down there that only has window units, I think the air conditioning issue was covered that I’m okay with that? But no heat source whatsoever. Inspector was telling me to get a wood burning stove, but it looks like that is not acceptable according to FHA. However, shouldn’t electric baseboards cover it? I’m guessing there’s only a handful of nights at somebody would want to heat there.

        • A wood-burning stove would not work because it requires it to be monitored by someone to keeping feeding it fuel. An electric baseboard hear should work as long as it works properly and meets the minimum heat requirement.

  13. Me being the seller, the property has two units. Downstairs heat and AC work just fine. Upstairs heat work, AC does not. 3/4 rooms have window units. Appraisal came back and said the AC needed to be repaired. Is the only option to fix the AC?

    • It sounds like since the upstairs unit is part of the whole property then they are considering that it needs to be fixed in order to get the whole property approved. I think this would be an underwriting guideline more so than an appraisal guideline.

  14. Crystal Bowman says

    We live in the house we are wanting to purchase. We have been approved for an FHA. The appraisal is coming up. We have a propane fireplace that we have to light but turns on and off to regulate heat. The house is a very small 2 bedroom and the fireplace can keep it warm enough unless we get frigid temps. We are installing baseboard heaters just in case this won’t be enough, but we are wondering if it would be? It is in the living room. The house is all one floor and the bedroom doors are right off the living room.

    • If it is self-regulating and brings the temperature to the minimum requirement it should work. Your statement that it gets it warm unless you have frigid temps may disqualify it. It needs to provide a minimum temperature for the health and safety of the occupants and so that pipes don’t freeze.

  15. Rebecca Johnson says

    We have a home in NC that has a heat pump and it heats the home fine. They don’t use the cooling option as they us window units to cool the home. I am not finding the heat pump answer anywhere. thank you

  16. Dave casey says

    Is there an age requirement on furnaces. Basically can they be considered too old?

  17. Nancy Palmer says

    Are electric stoves like the amish stoves ok for fha heating fha loans…having trouble finding furnace quick for inspection & have to have heat! Help!!

  18. Hello, I just recently (less than 5 months ago) purchased a home and the appraiser stated he checked the heating elements of the home and they were in working condition we later have discovered the entire system and furnace is unable to be used due to its horrible condition , the gas was not connected connected during the time of the appraisal as he stated which means he could not have checked the water heater nor the furnace during his inspection as he stated. As the season is changing I’m receiving quotes of thousands of dollars to fix the matter, do I have any recourse in this matter?

    • You may have some recourse as that is an item the appraiser is required to check out unless doing so could damage the system. If the appraisal was done during the hot summer months the appraiser may have thought that turning it on could damage it. If this was the case this probably should have been stated in the appraisal report. Home inspectors also do a more thorough check with the mechanical systems so you may want to check that out if you got a home inspection.

  19. We are buying our house it has central air but the unit is old will lt pass fha

  20. I have been FHA approved for a home loan. I live in Florida and the mortgage broker and the realtor told me that FHA guidelines require that the home have vents and central heat and air. Alot of the homes in my price range have window units
    Just asking is this true or could it be there insurance companies requirement?

    • FHA rules specifically state that a home must have a permanent heat source that is part of the real estate. This is to ensure that plumbing pipes don’t freeze. I know you live in Florida but that is what FHA guidelines show. They do not have requirements for air conditioning. If you would like to feel more comfortable about getting the right answer you can always call the HUD HomeOwnership Center (HOC) at 1 (800) CALL FHA.

      • In the past there were Florida counties that were exempt from the heat source requirement. There is still mention of it on a FHA/HUD letter from 2012 in the hud.gov archives, however, it appears there is no mention of an exemption in the current 4000.1 handbook, is this exemption no longer valid? It seems silly to require a heat source in say, Key West, Florida that keeps temps above 50 degrees when it almost never reaches temps this low.

  21. Would individual wall mounted heaters that plug in meet the criteria for an FHA loan? The units will be permanently mounted. And I want to mount 1 in each room.

    • If they are permanently mounted and work without human intervention (unlike a fireplace that has to be constantly fed wood) and provide the minimum required temperature it should be okay.

      • Kimberly Williams says

        I was also told my propane fireplace does not meet requirements because it is not externally vented

        • That very well could be true. You can always check with the city building inspector and if it passes their requirements it will usually pass FHA guidelines.

  22. Terrina Birdsall says

    I have an addition with a room on the north side and one on the south side with a small hall and back door, presently not heated. Will a mini split unit permanently installed in the walls of both rooms get an FHA approval ? This obstacle is presently holding up our loan. Please reply

    Thank you

    • It will satisfy the heating a cooling issue. This area should also have a similar finish to the rest of the home so that it can considered gross living area.

  23. If the home has two sources of heat do they both have to be Functioning properly in order to Meet FHA standards?

    • Any system that the house has needs to be operating properly to meet FHA standards. If one of the systems is adequate then you can remove the one that does not work and everything should be okay.

  24. Kisha Owens-Hall says

    If I purchase a home and the home does not have central air can it be intalled using a rehab loan?

  25. Samantha Matson says

    Hi Tom,
    I am in the process of buying a house and it has forced air heat on the lower level but the upper level is heated from the old school vents in the floor using the heat that rises from the bottom floor. Is this acceptable for FHA guidelines? I am very worried this won’t pass.

    • I don’t know if I have ever seen this setup the way you describe it. Are there air ducts that feed into the vents or are the vents open from the ceiling of the rooms below it? My guess is that you would need to make sure that it will heat the upstairs to the minimum standard which is 50 degrees. Another thing to keep in mind is if this is common for the area. Hope this helps.

  26. Linda Birmingham says

    Does the heat have to be on both floors for FHA? This house has heat on 1st floor that comes up the staircases & a pellet stove on the 2nd floor.

    • I don’t think the pellet stove would qualify as it requires someone to feed the pellets. If the heat from the first-floor results in the upper levels meeting the minimum temperature requirements and the heating unit has the capacity to heat that much square footage then I think it should be okay.

  27. Hi Tom,
    Would electric baseboard heat in each room be acceptable in Michigan?

    Thank you for your time,

  28. maria de jesus garcia garcia says

    I am buying a house, the house was built in 1950, and they asking for a permanent heating, I live in San Antonio tx, do you know where can I get it.

    • One of the simplest forms of acceptable heating is baseboard heat. It is permanently installed along the baseboard and provides a constant source of heat. These can typically be found at big box home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot.

  29. Sebastion says

    Thanks for the post Tom. I recently had an appraisal done to a property I’m looking to purchase FHA loan and the appraiser stated on the report that the property has central air when in fact the property has no heating Appliance at all. I told my loan officer about it and she said the only way to fix it is to do another appraisal which will cost me more money. What are some options i can take here?

    • I think you may be able to just request a correction to the report and ask the appraiser to comment whether changing it to what is correct will affect their final value estimate. It may have just been a typo and they may have valued it without it.

  30. Great post Tom. Thanks for putting this together in one readily digestible format. I hate hunting through the handbook for issues like this.

  31. Thank you Tom. In my market, we sometimes see a pellet stove on a thermostat as a home’s primary heat source. I think it meets all of the above if the home is quite small. What do you think?

    • That’s a good question, Gary. I’ve never really seen that type of stove in my area but from what I understand it does have a thermostat feature which can regulate the temperature. It looks like that the fuel that it burns (compressed wood) is fed into the unit through a storage bin. My only concern would be how frequently you would need to restock the fuel bin. Do you know how frequently this must occur?

      • Some of the pellet stoves I’ve seen have a hopper feed. Start the stove and pellets drop in for the next week or two. Others I’ve seen don’t have that hopper feed and probably don’t meet the requirements above.

  32. Thanks for the post Tom. So could a cabin in a more rural area with only a wood burning stove meet FHA financing? On one hand it would because of #5, but then #6 seems to be the trump card for ruling that out. What say you?

    • You’re right, Ryan. While a wood-burning fireplace would be common and acceptable to the market it does not meet the other guideline that states that it must operate without human intervention. The fireplace cannot be the only source of heat in this situation, however, it can be a secondary source. The main system would need to operate without human intervention.


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