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The Pre-Installation Checklist of a Quality HVAC Contractor

Installing a New Air Conditioner in Florida

The process of installing a new heating or cooling system in your home is both a big step and a big investment. As a home or business owner, you want to make the most informed decision about improving your heating and cooling system, and Stellar Services is here to help! Our expert technicians will educate you about the various parts that comprise your heating or cooling system to determine if a new unit is completely necessary. Knowing about the different components in your AC or heating system will allow you to ask the right questions when working with your HVAC contractor. Stellar Services has created this checklist so you can hire the best and most qualified HVAC contractor!

HVAC Installation Checklist

1. Check the ductwork

One of the most important parts of your home’s heating and cooling system is your existing ductwork: the hollow pipes laced throughout the structure of your home that carry air to and from your furnace or air handler. This aspect of the system can be a major source of the heating and cooling problems; therefore, it is critical to examine your ducts for leakage that might inhibit the productivity of your new air conditioner. A study conducted by the Department of Energy revealed, “the typical duct systems lose twenty-five to forty percent of the energy put out by the central furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner”. So much of your energy can be wasted by leaking ducts, which means that you are spending more money, but receiving less air.

Most faulty ducts have two or more of these four common duct problems:

  1. The duct system in a residential home has not been designed or routed properly to distribute the air where it is needed around the house.
  2. Flaws in the duct system can restrict airflow. If the air is not moving properly, the heating and cooling production of the unit is reduced, and the system may suffer premature failure.
  3. There is not enough insulation working with the ducts in spaces such as attics, garages, crawlspaces, and basements to keep the air warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  4. The ducts leak large amounts of air.

If you are suspicious of any duct work issues, consult your HVAC right away. If the duct work is not in good shape, your heating or cooling system is not achieving optimal performance and a new unit will not do the trick. In fact, your ductwork can actually jeopardize the health of both your new unit and your family by bringing moldy, dusty, potentially contaminated air from your attic, basement, garage, or crawlspace to the more frequented rooms of the house and back into your equipment.

Your HVAC contractor should check the state of your ducts before pricing and installing your new system. At the very least, they should do a visual check. However, they may suggest more advanced testing with computerized instruments such as static pressure gauges or smoke generators. These high-tech devices will help your HVAC contractor pinpoint any specific problems with your ducts and direct them to any leaks that need sealing. A good HVAC contractor will seal any duct leaks using duct mastic, which is widely believed to be the best medium for sealing ducts. They will also seal up to the thickness of a nickel and address both the supply and return of airflow.

2. Check the balance of air in every room

The heating and cooling process of your house works as a system, and this system is most competent when it is balanced. The definition of a balanced system is that the air pressure in each room stays about the same when the interior doors are closed. The air pressure in the room can only be consistent when the air that is coming out of the heat register can find its way back to the return air duct system without having to overcome too many obstacles. When the air is not moving steadily, the pressure will swell as the heating duct supplies air faster than the return duct can remove it. If pressure is building up in the room because the air cannot flow through it well, then the energy efficiency of the system is lost. If the air finds its way out of your home in an effort to reduce pressure, then money is lost as well. Thankfully, there are a few options you can try to address the problem yourself before contacting your HVAC company:

  • Remove the door.
  • Cut the bottom of the door off so there is a larger air passage between the door and the floor.
  • Install a pass through vent by cutting a rectangular hole through the wall over the door and installing a heating register over the hole on both sides of the wall.
  • Install an additional return air duct and register in the ceiling of the room and connect it to the return air plenum.

3. Check the furnace filter

When a good HVAC contractor is working with your heating and cooling system, they will go above and beyond by checking your furnace filter. The furnace filter can also hinder the regulation of energy if it begins to limit the flow of air and thereby makes the furnace work harder to produce the desired results. A quality contractor’s main goal is to ensure your heating and cooling systems are functioning as best as possible.

4. Check the air conditioner heat exchanger

The air conditioner heat exchanger can leave you in a situation similar to that of the furnace filter: if the heat exchanger gets clogged, the efficiency of the unit decreases as the output increases. Therefore, it is just as important to check on the heat exchanger when you are considering the process of replacing your air conditioner.

You will need an HVAC contractor to check the heat exchanger because it can be difficult to access. Even though it should be monitored like the furnace filter, the heat exchanger is often barricaded by sheet metal, thus requiring professional help to access it. If your heating system is more than a few years old, your heat exchanger will most certainly need cleaning.

Assess the Results

After completing this checklist, you may realize that you do not need a new unit. On the other hand, the results of this inspection may confirm it is indeed time for a new one. Not having to buy a new air conditioning unit could save your family or business a bit of money now, but if an experienced HVAC contractor recommends a new air conditioning unit for your home, it is best to heed this advice. A new unit would greatly increase overall efficiency and decrease your utility bills.

When you are ready to move forward with the upgrade of a new air conditioning unit, contact Stellar Services! Our team is here to help make this process easy from start to finish!