If you need to install a new AC system or replace and existing system, you need to prepare yourself and consider what you need. The most obvious and, in most cases, the only question that a homeowner may ask is, “what will this cost?” but this is a mistake. Instead, consider what you are trying to achieve, what you actually need, and how you can make that happen at an affordable cost. The best way to get the ideal HVAC system for your home is to ask plenty of relevant questions to reach the ideal solution to meet all your needs. Let’s take a look at five questions that you need to ask your local HVAC specialist before you make your final decision.
- Will I Need a New Thermostat Unit?
The thermostat is the ” brain” of your entire system, and a good unit can last a long time. This is why many people have the same thermostat in daily use many years after it was initially installed. But, the air conditioning industry moves at a rapid pace, and in recent years, we have seen major improvements in thermostat designs. If you have a thermostat that is operated via a simple dial or slider, you are missing out in terms of energy efficiency. A programmable digital thermostat allows the user to set their own schedules for cooling and heating. But, if you want the ultimate in control, the next step up is a smart thermostat that can be controlled remotely via an app. This allows the user to monitor their HVAC system and make changes from anywhere that has a WiFi connection on their favorite mobile device. When you consider a new HVAC system, think about how you will control it and ask an HVAC specialist about your options.
- Will I Need New Ductwork?
Many homes have ductwork that is old, and it may not have seen any cleaning or maintenance for quite some time. Because ducts are hidden out of sight, many people forget that they are there until something goes wrong. Over time ducts can become very dirty, vermin can invade these spaces, and the resulting dirty and debris will be distributed in the air. This material will degrade the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). This is why regular cleaning is so important. But, another key issue is the degradation of the ducts, even a tiny hole can allow treated air to escape. This leads to a lack of performance, and the energy efficiency is lowered. It is possible to seal, patch, and repair ductwork, but in many cases, this is not a cost effective solution. It’s usually cheaper to install new ductwork in your home to make the most out of your new HVAC system.
- Can I Improve My Indoor Air Quality?
We’ve touched on this earlier, but recent studies have shown that the air in our homes is often more polluted than the air outdoors. We cannot do much about the outdoor air quality, but we can control the IAQ in our homes. If anyone in your home is an allergy sufferer or they have a respiratory condition, they will benefit from an improvement in IAQ. Installing a new HVAC system will not solve these issues on its own because there are many other factors, such as fire retardant chemicals, mold growth, pet dander, dust, dirt, and others. But, if you install an electronic air cleaner, a UV light system, or a mechanical air filter with a higher SEER rating, this can help. Preventing the circulation of these contaminants throughout your home will make a dramatic difference. Talk to a local certified HVAC technician and ask them about ways to improve your IAQ by adding these types of systems.
- What System Capacity Do I Need?
Many homeowners simply pick the largest system that they can afford and hope for the best. But, this is not a very scientific approach, and it can lead to a number of serious problems. If you choose an HVAC system that is too large, it will change the temperature too quickly and confuse the thermostat leading to “short cycling.” This is when the HVAC system turns on and off quickly, and it can damage your heating and cooling equipment. If the HVAC system is too small, it will be forced to run constantly as it tries to heat or cool the space. This will drive up the energy bills, overwork the equipment, and lead to repair bills and early system replacement.
Sizing an HVAC system is tricky. Many people believe that it’s purely based on the size of the home, but this incorrect. In order to get an accurate HVAC system size, a “Manual J Load Calculation” is required. A load calculation is a complex formula that takes into account factors other than the size of your home, such as home orientation, windows, insulation levels, and others. There are free load calculation tools available online, but they are only based on the size of the home, and they do not take these other factors into account. A load calculation should be carried out by a local HVAC technician to ensure that it is as accurate as possible. This is the only way to get the ideal system size for optimal performance, reliability, and energy savings.
- Are You Bonded, Licensed, and Insured?
Many homeowners attempt to save money by hiring a local “handyman” to work on their HVAC systems. This is a bad idea, an HVAC system represents a significant investment, and you want a professional to work on it. If someone tries to work on an HVAC system without formal training and experience, they can easily damage sensitive components. A poor installation can mitigate many of the performance and energy savings that prompted you to invest in a new system in the first place. Plus, if anything does go wrong with the installation, you need to be sure that you’re covered. If your chosen HVAC contractor is bonded, licensed, and insured, it shows that they are professional, and this will give you extra peace of mind.