In our modern homes, we tend to rely on our heating and cooling systems to maintain a comfortable indoor environment throughout the year. This has been drawn into sharper focus in recent years due to the Covid-19 pandemic when many people were forced to work from home. Even under normal societal conditions, we spend most of our daily hours at home, eating, relaxing, sleeping, and carrying out other essential tasks. For these reasons, an HVAC system that’s performing at optimal efficiency is essential. But, an HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair can be expensive and many people try to save money with a DIY approach. Is this a good idea? Read on and find out.
A Brief HVAC System Primer
HVAC is an acronym for Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning. As the name suggests, these systems heat and remove heat from your home and draw fresh air in from outdoors. To carry out these functions, an HVAC system has a large number of electrical, electronic, and mechanical components. These parts must work in harmony or the performance and energy efficiency will be diminished significantly. Poorly installed or badly maintained systems tend to lose efficiency quickly and they are more prone to failure. The useful lifespan of these systems may also suffer and they may be reduced by a number of years leading to an earlier than expected replacement. In short, HVAC systems are very complex, it’s easy to damage them if you don’t know what you’re doing and the consequences can be severe.
What’s Wrong with DIY?
Nothing. A DIY ethos is a great mindset and many people would benefit from the development of new skills. Having your own tools and knowing how to use them is fantastic when you want to carry out basic tasks and you can save a lot of money. But, there are certain tasks that are best left to professionals, and working on HVAC systems falls into this category. As we’ve already seen, HVAC systems are complicated and it’s all too easy to damage them or hurt yourself when you’re working on them. An HVAC technician undergoes years of training to work on a system safely. It’s easy to follow an online DIY video, but in practice, this can make the situation worse and they are no replacement for years of practical experience.
The Importance of Complex Load Calculations
What is a complex load calculation? This is a process where the heating and cooling requirements of a home or business are matched to the correct HVAC systems. When many people choose HVAC equipment, they go with the tried and test approach of getting the largest system they can comfortably afford. Others may attempt to “save money” by purchasing and installing less powerful HVAC systems. Both of these are flawed approaches because the system must be carefully matched to the building. Underpowered systems consume too much energy because they need to work harder and this causes them to fail frequently. Oversized systems cool or heat the areas too fast leading to short-cycling issues which drive up energy bills and damage key components.
Online Complex Load Calculators are Inaccurate
So, we’ve learned that complex load calculations are important, but why do you need an HVAC technician to perform this calculation for you. After all, there are many free online load calculation tools available online to choose the right sized systems. Unfortunately, these tools are based purely on the square footage of your home or business. This is insufficient to get a truly accurate result and professional help is advisable. To make an accurate complex load calculation there are many factors to consider including size, insulation levels, airflow patterns, the room layout, the building orientation, the number of windows, and many more. For these reasons, it makes better sense to hire a local heating and cooling professional to get the best systems to meet your needs.
Avoiding Legal Problems
Performing certain DIY HVAC tasks may even be illegal due to strict laws implemented by the EPA in recent years. Handling, installing, and maintaining heating and cooling equipment can represent a significant risk to the environment. There are also health risks to consider and you may be breaking the law if you adopt a DIY approach.
Protecting Your Warranty
When you purchase your new HVAC equipment you will receive a warranty. If you have a newer system there may still be a few years left on the warranty you got when you purchased the equipment. A good warranty can add a great deal of value to your system and the protection that they offer should not be underestimated. But, many warranties have strict requirements that must be followed carefully if they are to remain valid. Aside from the set servicing times, most modern warranties are not copacetic with DIY fixes. This is understandable, the company is protecting itself against damages that may be caused by a botched installation or repair. If you are set on a DIY fix, check your warranty first and you may be surprised to learn that it will not be valid if you proceed.
We mentioned safety concerns earlier, but the primary consideration should always be safety. After all, equipment can be replaced, but people can seriously hurt if they don’t know what they’re doing and other people can be affected too. An HVAC technician will always wear safety gear when they work on your system and they are trained to work safely. There are significant risks of electrocution and cuts are common when people are unaccustomed to working on these types of systems. It’s also important to consider the natural gas supply if your home uses a gas furnace. An interruption in the gas line can cause gas leaks, house fires, and even explosions. Make safety a priority and hire a local heating and cooling specialist to work on your HVAC system.
If you need a new HVAC system, essential maintenance or an urgent repair, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.