Have you been thinking of having central air conditioning installed, but just haven’t known where to start, or what to look for? You’re not alone. I hear it from customers all the time, phrases like “sorry if this is a dumb question,” or “this may sound stupid, but…”
It’s not a dumb question, and no, it doesn’t sound stupid. I don’t expect people to know the ins and outs of their heating and cooling system, EVEN THOUGH IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THEIR HOME! I kid, but no really, it is a very vital part of the home, so it is important to have a basic understanding of what to look for in a heating and cooling system, and the steps that a good heating and air conditioning contractor will follow in the design and installation of your new system.
The Consultation and Design Process
This is where the size and type of the system to be installed is determined. When a comfort consultant comes to your home, they should be performing several tasks to ensure the proper system is selected.
The first step is to assess the existing system. It needs to be determined that the existing ductwork can handle the output of the heating and/or air conditioning system that is to be installed. An assessment of the supply (air blowing into the home) and return (air being pulled back through the system) ducts in the home will tell us how much air the ductwork can handle, and if any improvements such as duct sealing, insulation, or adding a duct run or two should be made. Often the return in the home is undersized which can have a very negative impact on system performance, and drastically reduce the life of your system.
The next step is to do a Manual J load calculation on the home. Manual J is the HVAC industry standard for load calculations. The process includes measuring the total cubic footage of the home, and inputting factors such as insulation values, (floor, ceiling, walls) window and door sizes, and the direction that each exterior wall and window faces. The Manual J program has weather data for different cities built in, so when you select a city near the home you are calculating, it calculates the size of the system needed based on all the factors you input, and the local weather data. For example, if we are sizing a central air conditioner in Salem, OR. the design temperature is 88°. This is the only way to be accurate when determining the proper size of your new heating and/or air conditioning system. If the contractor you invite into your home simply asks the square footage of the home, and when you tell him he says “looks like you need a 3 ton air conditioner,” then you can decide at that point if you would like to leave your comfort for the next 15 to 20 years to chance.
Now that the size of the system has been determined, we are down to choosing the right system. I usually like to give a homeowner three options to choose from. We now know what the needs of the home are, so letting the customer decide what system fits their needs and wants becomes the priority. I will give the pros and cons of each option, so that the customer can make an educated decision. There are many different features available in heating and air conditioning systems, so it’s important to do a little bit of research. Clicking on any of our installation photos from this link, https://cleanenergycomfort.com/job-site-photos/ will take you to an information page about that product, and you can learn some of the features and benefits there. Once you have the options laid out in front of you, the choice is yours to make.
Installation and Follow Up
The installation of your new heating and/or air conditioning system is the most important part of the process. I am frequently asked which brands of equipment are the best, and while Rheem, which is our brand of choice, was ranked #1 in reliability by Consumer Reports, if the system is not installed properly, then you will have issues no matter what brand of system you choose. When a new central air conditioner is being installed, the installer should be purging the refrigerant lines with nitrogen while welding. Once the lines are welded the system is put under a deep vacuum to remove any internal air and moisture which will allow the system to operate properly. After the vacuum stage is complete, the system is started and tested to determine if it has the proper refrigerant charge. Refrigerant is either added or removed from the system, or left alone if it’s right on, and whala, you have a finished air conditioning system that will keep you comfortable all Summer long. After your system is operating properly, we like to do a post installation walk through to make sure that everything went as planned, and that you understand how to operate your new system. At this time, any rebate paperwork that needs to be signed is taken care of, and we will discuss the importance of maintaining your new heating and cooling system to keep it operating efficiently for years to come. In the office we register the warranty for your new system, and send off any applicable rebate applications.
The purchase of a new heating and air conditioning system for your home should not be taken lightly. It is probably going to be one of the biggest investments you will make in your biggest investment (your home). I hope that this information will help you if and when you decide it’s time to have that new system installed. If you have any further questions, or would like more information on the subject, please feel free to contact us.