Friday, March 26, 2010

4 Additional Considerations When Replacing Furnace and Air Conditioners

Here are some additional things you should consider when purchasing heating or air conditioning systems. The information provided below by Service Roundtable will help you make the best investment.

© 2006 Service Roundtable

Because of the investment, replacing a heating and air conditioning system necessitates more due diligence. The best company to select for a replacement is a contractor who has performed satisfactorily for you in the past. An established, successful relationship is always the best gauge of what you can expect in the future. Relationship or not, the following are four items you should insist upon.

1. Will the company offer an AHRI Certified combination?
The Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute certifies product efficiency. If you are replacing your air conditioner or heat pump, a reputable contractor will present you with a certification of performance from ARI. Without replacing the condensing unit (outdoor unit) and the evaporator (air handler or indoor unit), a contractor cannot promise you will receive the efficiency you pay for, or even that the system will operate correctly over time.

2. Will the contractor permit equipment replacements?
If you replace your heating or cooling system, you should insist that the job is permitted. When jobs are permitted, a municipal inspector will review the installation to ensure the job can at least meet current building codes. Like licensing, building codes are the minimum standard.

3. Is the company willing to provide references?
If you do not know anyone who has done work for a company, ask for references. The contractor should be willing to provide you with three to five recent customers you can call.

4. Will the company provide you with a copy of a “load calculation?”
A load calculation is a method of sizing equipment. It’s often called a “Manual J®” for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s Manual J®, the standard for sizing residential equipment. Once measurements are taken, load calculations can be conducted quickly using computers. Contractors should be able to show and review the load calculations and provide you with a copy if you authorize the company to proceed with the replacement.

3 Things to Beware
Be especially careful about the following four pitfalls.

1. Beware the lowest price
You want to spend the least amount possible, which often eliminates the lowest price. Cheap contractors typically cut corners, which costs more in the long run. Cheap contractors cannot afford to fix mistakes, resulting in the need to pay twice. Often the lowest price is not the lowest at all.

2. Beware the yellow pages
Selecting a contractor from the yellow pages is tantamount to throwing a dart. Maybe you will get lucky. Maybe not. The yellow pages should be used as tool of last resort.

3. Beware anything that sounds too good to be true
Usually, something too good to be true really is too good to be true.

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