Let’s talk HVAC systems for a minute. It is the time of year when many of our clients are faced with the dilemma of needing a new heating and cooling system. Bosch, Armstrong, Rheem, Lennox, American Standard, Carrier, Trane, Ruud, Tempstar and the list of brands goes on and on. All HVAC equipment is judged, regardless of brand, by an independent body called AHRI (Air conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration index). The first rating category is SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating). The higher the SEER rating the less electricity the unit is going to consume while operating. SEER is used to rate air conditioners and heat pumps. For the furnaces, we have an AFUE (Annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating to consider. Again, the higher the percentage rating is, the more efficiently the furnace consumes fuel. If a furnace is rated at 90%, that means that 90% of the fuel burned actually creates heat while 10% of the fuel exits the flue pipe as waste. A nice way to think about all these ratings is in terms of MPG for a car. In summation, a 20 SEER AC unit with a 96% furnace is going to consume much less energy than a 15 SEER unit with an 80% furnace. Next, we have motors and compressors that have different speeds which offer different benefits on the level of comfort in the home. The reality is that a heating & cooling system, is a HVAC system, is a whole home comfort system. Those of us in the industry all have opinions on which brands are the best, and yes different equipment offers different benefits depending on the application.
Here is the hard cold truth; the most IMPORTANT day in any comfort system’s life is the day that it is installed and the company that installs it. You need to make sure that you are doing business with a reputable company that is going to be there if there is a problem down the road. If a system is installed correctly, you shouldn’t have a problem with the unit; however as with any manufactured item it may have a flaw in it from the factory which is beyond the control of the installing company. I will state for the record that most new equipment functions as advertised: it is rare cases that a unit may need a repair. The problems lie in that many HVAC companies will rush through the installation process and while you the homeowner are not aware; they may do things that shorten the life of the equipment or reduce the efficiency. Again, proper installation of your new unit will ensure the equipment has the longest life and gives you all the benefits you are spending your hard-earned cash on.
Air Temp Solutions has an extensive check list that we operate with when installing a HVAC system to ensure nothing is missed and no shortcuts are taken. I am not going to review the entire list here; I am going to hit the biggest things that some companies skip to save time.
- Flush and chemically treat drain line for proper flow and hopefully prevent future backups, or replace drain line when needed
- Put refrigerant system under deep vacuum to remove any moisture that got into the system during the install process.
- Test and start the equipment per the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure optimum system performance
- Install condensate safety switch in drain line to prevent floods in the event the drain line would back up
- Replace the refrigerant lines that run between the indoor and outdoor units