How to identify a professional HVAC Installation.

With Summer nearly upon us, many homeowners will be replacing their HVAC equipment as a preventative measure against the impending summer heat.

The first step toward replacement is calling out your local Heating and Air conditioning contractor. If he's worth his salt, He will thoroughly examine your entire system, not just check the size of your existing outdoor unit.

The air conditioning unit sitting outside your home is not the only component responsible for cooling your air. The outdoor unit does expel the heat that has been collected from inside your home. However, the blower inside your furnace is responsible for moving that hot air into the air conditioner. And the ductwork is responsible for delivering that cooled air into each room of your home.

You can see that the entire system works together and your air conditioning system is only as strong as its weakest link. This is why a professional HVAC contractor examines all aspects of your system to ensure no component is left behind.

Knowing that you should choose an HVAC contractor who thoroughly examines your home is a first step in the right direction. The second step is just as important. There is an old saying in the HVAC industry:

"The most important day of an air conditioners life is the day that it is installed".

Unlike other home appliances (dishwashers, refrigerators and laundry machines) Much of an air conditioning system is fabricated on site. There are steps that a contractor MUST follow to ensure that your new equipment will live a long and happy life. Taking short cuts and skipping steps can literally mean the difference between years of trouble-free operation and a system that never works right. Unless you know what to look for, you won't know If your contractor is doing the right thing...until its too late.

Below you will find before and after pictures for a complete system that we recently replaced. I mentioned a few things to look for when reviewing installs from the contractor you are considering.

The Outdoor Unit.

Before  & After

A- You should expect years of trouble-free operation from your newly installed system. An experienced contractor will replace all the supporting components like this electrical disconnect box and the fuses that it contains.

B- To withstand years of abuse from the elements, your electrical lines, refrigerant piping, and thermostat wire should all be properly strapped and secured. Look to see that your electrical line is secured about every 12". Your copper piping should be secure to the touch.

C- Placement of the outdoor unit is critical. It should be sitting on a solid foundation. This may be poured concrete or a composite pad. The unit must be level and not sitting directly on the ground.

D- Look for new copper lines with fresh insulation. This is especially critical if your old air conditioner had a leak or the compressor burned out. Either of these conditions can compromise the integrity of your entire system.

E- Pride of craftsmanship is the hallmark of an industry professional. When reviewing photos of past work, look for straight lines and 90-degree angles. A technician who pays attention to these details is much less likely to cut corners in other places.

The Indoor Unit.

Before  & After

A- External cabinets with high flow filters are the new standard in home filtration. Many new furnaces require nothing less than high flow filters. Using the old 1" style can cause damage to your variable speed blower motor. Sadly, I have encountered brand new variable speed equipment with the improper filtration installed. This combination is a ticking time bomb of repairs.

B- Your high efficient furnace should have a 2-pipe intake and exhaust system. This ensures that your furnace is getting combustion air from the outside and not creating a negative pressure inside your home.

C- Look for Sealed joints on all the ductwork that connects to your furnace. Each joint should have a foil-like mastic tape or duct sealant compound covering it. This prevents air leakage and maintains efficiency.

D- Insist on new flexible gas line fittings. Over time, these fittings experience vibration and movement that can create cracks and allow gas to leak. Every new install should include fresh flexible fittings.

E- The furnace piping should share the same straight lines and 90-degree angles as the outdoor unit. Vent piping should be supported and have a continuous uphill slope to allow for proper airflow and condensate draining.

F- Look for serviceable drain traps. Over the last decade, clear drain traps with cleanable ports have become very popular. These allow service technicians to easily clean and inspect the drain during your annual maintenance.

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