5 Things To Know When Buying a New AC Unit
The top 5 things you need to know about replacing your central air conditioning and heating system.
Replacing a central air conditioning and heating system is something most homeowners will only have to think about two or three times in their lives in most cases, but knowing what to do can be overwhelming to most.
Buying a new home or car can be a fun and exciting process, but let’s face it, not too many people would say purchasing a HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) System is their idea of a good time.
When you think about purchasing a car, most of us care about color, cup holders and where we plug our iPod in…not how the fuel injection system works. Yet when you call out a professional A/C & Heating Contractor and he or she begins to get into the specifications of the equipment available it can get downright confusing…because you don’t care “HOW” it works, just that it works!
As a well-respected Air Conditioning and Heating Contractor in the Phoenix, AZ area, I thought it would be nice to write an article from an insiders point of view to help homeowners in areas we do not service on things they should know about replacing an HVAC System.
Here’s what I consider to be the top five things you should know about a central air conditioning unit replacement:
1) Brand is on the bottom of the importance list.
Brand matters, but not as much as you might think. More than likely you’ve at one point or another heard the names of “the big 3” air conditioner manufacturers; Lennox, Carrier, and Trane (American Standard). There are literally dozens of others and some are good while others…not so much. The big three, while all having their flaws with certain models over the years, for the most part have proven dependable with low failure rates, but only under one condition…that they were sized and installed properly.
Remember this; you are far better off with the least feature rich, entry-level equipment, sized and installed properly by a great company than the top-of the line model from a name brand manufacturer installed poorly by a fly-by-night company.
Bottom line: Choose the right company, they will know which brand is best for you based on the application and relationship they have with their manufacturer. A great company will stand behind their work so they will work with a manufacturer that stands behind them and their customers.
2) REALLY research the air conditioner install company BEFORE getting a quote.
It stands to reason that since the quality of the installation is the most important factor in your happiness with the HVAC System that you spend your research time looking at which companies to consider instead of which brand to consider. I’m constantly baffled by how many people tell me they made a huge mistake in choosing a contractor; only to find out they never even did any research on the company first.
DO NOT BASE YOUR DECISION ON LOWEST PRICE! You get what you pay for right? There is absolutely a reason that company is so much cheaper than the next company…they have to sell on low price because their reputation stinks! Their reputation stinks because they do a poor job, hire poor employees and will not stand behind their work as promised.
Bottom line: We live in the information age, get online and CHECK!!! Check with the BBB, check AngiesList.com, check Kudzu.com, check into their claims of awards. Do your research on the company and everything else will fall into place. As we at Magic Touch Mechanical tell people in the Phoenix area all the time, “We have the reputation we do for a reason”
3) Find a contractor that employs BPI (Building Performance Institute) Certified and/or HERs (Home Energy Rater’s) Certified estimators and energy auditors.
Your happiness with the performance, efficiency, sound and comfort provided by your central heating and air conditioning system depends on a lot of other variables. Factors like; insulation, air ducts (design and leakage), doors and windows, air infiltration, and more all play into the installation of a “system”.
Without factoring in all the variables using quantifiable data you will more than likely not be satisfied with the outcome, performance, or efficiency of your new unit.
Bottom line: Hire a company that also does home energy audits also referred to as “building or home performance contractors”.
4) Find out about manufacturer and utility rebates available.
Usually if a company is telling you they will “give you the rebates upfront”, they are not qualified or allowed to offer certain rebates from manufacturers or power company programs.
You may have to wait between 4-6 weeks to get a check from the manufacturer or utility company, but now you have an additional assurance that your job was sized, selected and installed properly because of the red-tape documentation required from the factory or power company in order to qualify for the rebate.
Bottom line: A legitimate air conditioning company is going to eagerly participate in any rebate program available because although it may require more work on their end, the more money they can save a homeowner the more equipment they are going to sell.
5) Trust your instincts and get it in writing!
There’s a lot of truth in the old saying; “If it sounds to good to be true it probably is”.
Let’s look at a tale of two estimators:
One estimator comes to your home and spends several hours asking you questions about your home, your budget, and your goals. He walks around measuring, taking pictures, inspecting the attic and ducting, looking at the insulation, doing a load calculation, etc. He/she then proposes multiple equipment options and accessories and explains how they provide a solution to the things you discussed and the application.
Another estimator comes in and pulls out a “brag book” with pretty pictures of their trucks, their insurance certificates, a few awards they’ve received, etc. He/she is friendly and personable and tells you about how great the product they carry is and offers the same size you already have because “it’s worked this long – it must be right”. He/she then writes out a few “options” as well; “Complete 13 Seer Brand A, Complete 13 Seer Brand B, and Complete 18 Seer Brand A or B” each one with a lump sum next to it and no details.
You can tell a lot about what to expect going forward from the level of detail and how much your estimator pays attention to what’s important to you up front. You want to purchase a solution…not be sold a product. Your gut will tell you who cares about the end results and who’s just there to earn a commission.
Get it in writing. The contract should spell out the product, accessories, warranty, guarantees, discounts, etc. If it just says “14 Seer Carrier / 10 year Warranty $4900 plus $200 tax”…shred it!
If you’re in the Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale or surrounding areas of Arizona and are considering replacing your central air conditioning and heating system, give Magic Touch Mechanical a call at (480) 855-8789 and schedule a free in-home (detailed) estimate today!