Everyone makes mistakes, but when you’re investing substantially in your home and comfort, wouldn’t you like to know that the contractor installing your HVAC system is making as few as possible? If you don’t carefully vet your contractor and spend some time getting to know the process and what you’re investing in, then you could be setting yourself up for long-term problems – financially, for your health and, yes, for your comfort.
Here are some mistakes that contractors can make when they’re hired cheap, inexperienced, unlicensed, or they’re clearly just not as invested in the outcome as you are.
1. Leaving The “V” Out Of HVAC
Do you know what HVAC stands for? You might be surprised to learn that while many people are familiar with the acronym, some still don’t know what it really means. If that’s you, don’t worry! We’re here to educate and help you understand the investment you’re making.
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. At least two of those are probably familiar – you want heat to keep warm in winter, and air conditioning to keep cool in summer. But what about the V for Ventilation?
Turns out that’s key to your comfort *and* your health, and it can have a tremendous impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of your system.
Today’s homes are built to be energy efficient, which means they’re sealed up as tight as a drum. But that can come at the cost of ventilation. Your windows may not be drafty, but you’re not getting any fresh air into your home, either. Nor is the stale air getting out.
That can lead to all kinds of problems, from trapped pollutants and germs, to excess moisture and more strain on your system. It’s up to your contractor to balance positive and negative air pressure and ensure proper circulation in your home.
2. Neglecting Ductwork
Replacing or installing an HVAC component, whether furnace or air conditioner, goes beyond just the technical specifications of the unit. Ducts also play a vital role in your comfort and the efficiency of your system.
And ducts can harbor a host of problems. They may leak, which means that instead of the cool – or warm – air coming into your home, it’s seeping out into attics, crawl spaces and walls where it’s costing you money without benefit.
Sometimes a rodent or other ambitious wildlife will chew through them, or they may become damaged or crushed if they’re in an attic that doubles as a storage room.
Ducts may be improperly sized, which means your unit could be struggling to work, effectively shortening its lifespan and costing you more in energy consumption in the meantime. Your HVAC contractor can – and should – inspect visible ducts in attics and crawl spaces, even if you’re just replacing a unit. Just because the ducts are there doesn’t mean they’ve been sized and installed properly in the first place.
Keep in mind that your contractor can’t tear down walls to see what the ducts looks like inside, so it’s possible that they aren’t done properly, either. Unfortunately you won’t know that until you turn on the new unit after it’s installed, but your contractor can mitigate many of the unknowns with an inspection and evaluation.
3. Doing Anything At All Before Talking To You
Installing a new air conditioner or furnace, or any component of an HVAC system, is a lot more than just plunking down a new piece of equipment and pushing the proverbial “on” button. A successful installation starts long before you spend a single cent, and certainly before the techs show up with their toolboxes. It starts with a conversation between you and your contractor.
Your contractor should start with an analysis of your needs. What seems simple on the surface – your air conditioner just blew and you need a new one quickly – can harbor unaddressed issues. Was your air conditioner keeping the house comfortable before it conked out? Are there some rooms in your house that are too hot, or too cold? Do you have problems with excessive condensation, moisture, even mold and mildew?
How about dust? Have you noticed that no amount of housekeeping can seem to keep surfaces dust-free? Do you, or does someone in your family, suffer from allergies? Do winter colds seem to recycle from one family member to another all season long? Do you have pets?
All of these things come into play when designing and choosing an effective HVAC system. There are different solutions to different problems. For instance, if you’ve got one perpetually hot or cold room in your house, it could be a matter of adding ducts, or perhaps installing a ductless unit rather than replacing a fully functional central air conditioner.
Too much dust can mean dirty filters and dirty ducts, especially in a new construction, or an old house that hasn’t had its ducts cleaned in many years.
Allergies and colds can be mitigated with the simple addition of an air purifier. It can capture pollutants and even kill germs on surfaces. Your HVAC contractor should provide you with options.
If your HVAC contractor presents you with a quote without a single question, take that as a sign that you could be missing out on what you truly need.
4. Doing What You “Want” Without Figuring Out What You Need
Sure, you want a new air conditioner. Yours may have given up the ghost, or it’s not running as efficiently as it used to and you’re ready for a change. But what do you really *need* to keep you and your home comfortable?
Some of that will come down to what your contractor finds out during your conversation. And some of it will come from your house itself. The square footage that requires cooling or heating is important, but there are other factors to consider – for example, the size and directionality of your windows.
If your home faces in an east-west direction, that means you probably get a lot of direct sunlight. If that sun comes in through big picture windows, you’ll get even more. That can mean much higher indoor temperatures during the summer, and is something to consider when sizing your air conditioning unit.
If you work on a computer from a home office, or have a home theater with electronics that throw a lot of heat, it’s going to take more to cool.
Better to understand the conditions in your home before investing in an HVAC system or you’ll end up running your air conditioner constantly, spending more on energy and wearing the system down before its time.
Now that you know some of the common mistakes that HVAC contractors make, you can be wiser about your selection and know what to look for when choosing one to do your installation.
If you’re considering a new HVAC system or component, put us to the test! Contact us for a free in-home consultation and estimate and we’ll design the best solution for your needs.