A hot summers day without AC - that's an Emergency!
Most companies can install equipment for you in your time of need. But do all companies install equipment the same? The answer is no. All for-profit companies are in business for one reason - to make profit. Some make more profit than others and some make profit differently than others.
An easy way to make extra profit is to cut corners. An easy place to cut corners is new system installs. Installing your new system properly is more than just the inside and outside equipment. It includes the work done at connections, new parts that are associated with the equipment and the little things that make the system perform better and last longer.
When these corners are cut for saving money and increasing profit - you are the one that losses in the long run.
Our standard installation is the same for everyone and factored into our estimates. If we are a little higher than the next guy, there is a reason why and you should ask to ensure you are getting a proper installation. Replacing an HVAC system is not a cheap endeavor and should be considered an investment. As with any investment you should take your time and make a sound choice - price should not be the only reason. Does this mean the most expensive estimate is the best? Is the least expensive the worst? No. We have been both. It means you should ask questions and look for signs of cutting corners.
Here is some of what our standard installations include and why:
1. We connect to existing refrigerant lines. Most companies do this but it should be done properly. When connecting to existing lines, they should be flushed to remove old oil from previous refrigerant. Most likely your system has R-22 (freon) refrigerant which uses mineral oil and your new system will use R-410a (Puron) which uses synthetic oil. These two oils will not mix causing your new refrigerant to not perform properly. This process should be performed with new system installations and can only be performed when system is disconnected. Manufacturers require this step when equipment is being installed to preserve the integrity of the equipment but a lot of HVAC companies skip this step since it is time consuming.
There are few reasons to replace all of your refrigerant lines when new equipment is needed. Some reasons are when lines are sized wrong for the new equipment, lines are in poor condition, there is a known leak in the lines or the old system was contaminated. We will assess these to determine if you need new lines but most system failures will not require this additional service.
2. We usually connect to existing electrical - most companies do this. Sometimes an electrician is need to change a breaker due to the new equipment needs. This is the proper way to install new equipment and is required by county code and is checked during permitting inspection. This is one reason why some companies do not pull permits in an effort to save money by not changing breakers. This can cause your system to fail or worse if breakers are not properly sized.
3. We may be connecting to your existing duct system- if you are changing out failed equipment then there may be no reason to replace your duct system. We will evaluate your system for you to ensure it is in good shape to ensure efficient working conditions. We will replace plenums and/or transitions if needed when installing your new equipment. This is often needed to connect your current duct system to the new equipment. To cut corners some companies will use the existing even though they clearly should be replaced. Or they will charge extra to entice you with a low price in the beginning.
4. New leveled 4" hurricane rated condensing pad (if not installed on slab). Often a new pad is needed to fit the new equipment. A cost cutting measure is to reuse the pad when it should be replaced. An unleveled pad can cause the condenser to not work properly. Remember there is a fan in there and it needs to be level to work correctly and prevent premature bearing failure.
5. New air handler (AH) stand (closet/garage installs). This stand holds your AH in place. Often the AH is a different shape or size. Therefor the stand should be sized to fit the AH properly to ensure it stays in place. When air handlers are in the attic sometimes tehy need to be placed on plywood to ensure it has a proper platform to sit on. This is also included. Some companies will reuse improperly sized stands and "cap it off". Some will reuse wooden stands which is code standards. Generally, this will be done by companies not pulling permits.
6. Permit and Scheduling of Inspection. This is required and should not be considered an add on. RED FLAG if a company is charging you extra for pulling a permit or scheduling an inspection. If a permit is not being pulled, in counties that require them, the company is most likely cutting corners and not providing you with the installation you believe you are paying for and deserve.
7. Drain pan - when possible. A drain pan is placed under an air handler. The pan is to catch any water that drains improperly from the system such as when a drain line or air filter is clogged, the system freezes. These should be installed whenever possible to protect your floor or ceiling. A drain pan can save thousands of dollars in unwanted repairs from a clogged drain line or air filter. It should not be an add on for a properly installed system.
8. THREE safety float switches - some would say this is over kill but we say it is the safest way to perform an installation. Safety switches are installed where water may collect from a clogged drain line. When possible there are three areas these can be installed. When water hits these switches we wire them to shut off your system. There are other ways to wire them but what better way to know there is a problem than your system not running. By stopping your system, it does not have the opportunity to continue producing water and causing damage to your home. A simple call to have a technician come to your home will allow us to perform an inexpensive service of clearing drain line then resetting switch rather than flooding your attic or ruining your floors while you are away.
9. New Bi-flow liquid filter drier - this should be done at every install and often is not.
10. The process of recovery and evacuation is important. This process goes like this:
11. We do a lot of other little things too: add vibration pads to the condensing unit, remove old equipment, clean up afterwards, caulk or foam all holes and seams.
Some of these items are required by code for all new system installs. Some are just part of a proper installation. All of these we gladly do at no extra charge. If they are not part of your estimate you should ask why. If a company does not want to pull a permit or does not offer to provide one - you should disqualify them from your consideration. Ask yourself - or them - why do they not want to pull a permit: the cost? the requirement to install to code? Are they a licensed contractor? Whatever the reason - it is a big - huge- red flag.