What to Know Before Buying a New Air Conditioner
Buying an affordable, dependable, and efficient air conditioner is no easy task. When you are searching for a new air conditioner, there are many different aspects of each company that you should examine before you choose one.
In fact, choosing a new air conditioning system is the easy part. The hard part is finding a good HVAC installation company.
What to Know Before Buying a New Air Conditioner
1. INTERVIEW HVAC CONTRACTORS
When it comes to buying a new heating and air conditioning system or having your current system repaired, one of the main factors you have to worry about is how honest the salesman or repairman is.
If you don’t know much about these machines, you can get taken in by a scam. This is why it’s important to get a repair company with a good reputation. Checking with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is highly recommended as they keep a record of all complaints that have been lodged against companies.
If a company has excessive unresolved complaints, this is a good sign you may want to avoid them. Other ways to determine if you are dealing with a reputable company is check Google+, Facebook, Yelp, and other review sites. This can help you determine if people are having problems with them as well and are making negative posts on social networking sites.
Another thing you should look for is licensing, bonding, and insurance. If you cannot find your contractors license numbers or are having any difficulty verifying the state and federal standing, just ask and they should have no problem providing all of this documentation for you.
HVAC contractors who are NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certified are some of the best in the industry. You can almost always trust a NATE-certified technician with great customer support and expert HVAC repairs and replacements.
If you don’t already have a trusted HVAC company to install a new air conditioning system, use this ENERGY STAR Bid Installation Checklist as a template for your HVAC vetting process. Ask the HVAC companies bidding for the job whether or not they follow ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines.
All work should follow federal, state, and local codes and related regulations.
2. CORRECT SIZING
The HVAC contractor who wins your business should properly size and select the best air conditioning unit for your needs before anything is installed. It is not enough to simply look at the unit you are replacing and find a similar unit to take its place. Every time a new HVAC unit is installed, your home should be thoroughly measured and inspected for proper HVAC sizing.
The sizing and design of your air conditioning replacement includes ductwork considerations, piping, materials, joining methods, and equipment. If you have a company that is not sizing your HVAC equipment before quoting you a price, you are dealing with a disreputable contractor and should move on.
Unfortunately, over half of all new HVAC systems are improperly installed due mostly to incorrect sizing of HVAC equipment. According to ENERGY STAR, “improper installation can reduce performance by as much as 30%.”
In order for your air conditioner or furnace to meet the claims made by the manufacturer, proper sizing is a must. Ask you potential contractor if they are using ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America)’s Manual J to run a load calculation and calculate the correct size of your new equipment. Make sure they are also inspecting your existing ductwork to make sure the new system size can fit.
Improper HVAC sizing runs up your energy bill, but it can also lead to “a variety of comfort problems, including insufficient dehumidification, dust from leaking ductwork, and poor air distribution” (ENERGY STAR). If your unit is too large, it will short-cycle frequently and not be able to effectively deal with excess humidity. Too small and the unit might never stop running, struggling to keep all of the rooms in your home at the desired temperature.
Again, consult the ENERGY STAR® Quality Installation Guidelines to ensure your HVAC contractor is properly installing your new HVAC system.
3. INSPECT DUCTWORK
If you install a new HVAC system with old, leaky ductwork, you may end up with inconsistent airflow, uneven heating/cooling, and other comfort and efficiency problems.
Part of ENERGY STAR’s Quality Installation Guidelines include inspecting ductwork and making sure they are sealed. Double-check this detail with your contractor, because many companies will not offer this service and it is unwise to assume it is included in the installation.
If professional duct sealing is not included, there are often discounts available for bundling multiple services from the same company and sealing your air ducts can dramatically improve the lifespan and efficiency of your new system.
Click here for signs, symptoms, and solutions for leaking air ducts.
It is highly recommended that you speak with a HVAC professional before you seal your air ducts. If you are installing a new unit, you may have to replace the existing ductwork system, so speak with a pro first to avoid any wasted time, money, and work.
4. FEATURES & EFFICIENCY
Since January 1, 2015, it is now required that all air conditioning systems have a minimum SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating of 13 (for split system air conditioners) and 14 for heat pumps and packaged systems.
We recommend getting the highest SEER rating you can. Although it may cost more upfront, the unit will use about 10% less energy for each digit increase and cool your home more effectively.
Consider investing in small and energy-saving ductless mini-split units.
After installation, speak with your contractor about their maintenance plans. You can save money and gain peace of mind by having an automatic tune-up and cleaning conducted each year by a professional.
Learn more about your HVAC options:
- HVAC FAQs
- Heat Pump or Furnace? Or Both? | Hybrid Heating Systems
- Outdoor Home Maintenance Checklist
- DIY Furnace Tune-Up
- Duct Hunt: Ductwork Problems and How to Fix Them
- Air Scrubber Plus Air Filtration System
- How to Find and Seal Air Leaks Around the Home
Since 1984, we’ve proudly served homeowners throughout Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.