Your new cooling and heating system will only perform at optimal efficiency, comfort and safety levels if it is well installed. In fact, an improperly installed system could reduce a system’s efficiency by as much as 50%.
That’s why getting educated on AC Doctor, the most trusted source for HVAC information, is crucial.
Your first step should be to print out this quality installation checklist using the button below. Refer to it often as you accept bids from contractors to install or service your HVAC system.
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Here is what you need to know about high-quality installations as your new system is installed:
Do not let anyone convince you that it is ok to replace either the indoor or the outdoor unit without replacing the other. Almost all new high efficiency air conditioners and heat pumps require a matched system (indoor and outdoor units) to work properly. The outdoor compressor and the indoor coil work as a team and if they are mismatched it could shorten the life of both units, prevent the system from operating at optimal efficiency, and potentially void the manufacturer’s warranty.
The only way to accurately choose the size of HVAC equipment appropriate for your house is by having a professional contractor perform a mathematical calculation such as a Manual J that takes into account such details as how many windows your home has and what direction they face.
This is crucial because although you want enough power to cool/heat your home, bigger HVAC equipment is not necessarily better. An oversized system will cycle on and off too often, which can result in inconsistent temperatures in the home and higher energy bills at the end of the month. Also, because the system turns off more quickly than it should, humidity is not properly removed from the home and as you probably know, on a hot summer day it’s not pleasant to feel cool but damp in your home.
Don’t be embarrassed, but your ducts are probably leaking - - a recent Department of Energy study states: “Typical duct systems lose 25 to 40 percent of the energy put out by the central furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner.” This almost certainly means that your air conditioning equipment is working overtime to compensate for this loss. As far as comfort, improper duct work is also a major cause of hot and cold spots and can propagate indoor air problems such as dust and mold.
Insist that your contractor inspect your ductwork to ensure there are no design errors or kinks in flexible duct work, the ductwork has proper insulation (R-8 insulation is top-of-the-line for ducts), and that all the ducts and duct connectors are properly sealed with mastic and/or tape.
The Department of Energy says: “Duct repairs could be the most important energy improvement measure you can do.”
Insist that your contract use properly calibrated instrumentation to determine if your system is properly charged with refrigerant. Remember that there is a gaseous refrigerant that runs through your system from the outdoor compressor baring unit to the indoor air “coil” that circulates the air through the duct work. If there is too much, or not enough refrigerant then the system will optimally exchange heat between your home and outside -- your system will underperform and the life of your system could be dramatically reduced.
Remember, Quality Installation is the #1 determinant of home comfort and HVAC efficiency…ensure that your home’s performance has a healthy prognosis!