I have to replace my air conditioning system, both the air handler and the condenser. I also may need to replace the grille registers and the duct work. I was reading a post in the forum where someone offered a poster to provide the names of reliable contractors by email and I thought that I would post to see if someone in the Boston area (I am located about 16 miles south of Boston) might be willing to offer me some contractor names that I can rely on. I have been out of work for some time due to having to take care of a sick parent so while I have the money to do what is necessary I cannot afford to make a mistake.
For some background I have a 2 floor raised ranch with about 1300 square feet of living space. In the basement only 2 of 3 rooms have registers with flex duct being fed down through upstairs closets. My current unit is 3.5 tons consisting of a 30 year old condenser and a 14 year old air handler. The duct work is fiberglass duct board installed in the 1970's.
My current problem is a leak in the air handler coil which is located in the attic. With the age of my units I need to replace both the air handler and the condenser. Two contractors that have been to my home have told me that the duct board is in bad shape and should also be replaced with galvanized steel. Also out of 10 registers 5 of them are hard to close when I try to flip the switch to close the registers so I am considering replacing the registers as well.
The reason why I am looking for contractor recommendations is because I believe that the estimates that I have been given are lacking in information to make a proper decision.
One contractor seemed like he was very knowledgeable and did a Manual J calc. His estimate is for a Trane variable volume air handler and 14 seer XLi. But he will not include the size of the unit in the estimate or provide me with his Manual J load cal info. He said that it protects himself from my going to other contractors with his information. I know that he is competing for a job but how can I then compare his estimate to others on an equal basis if I do not know what size his estimate is based on?
The second contractor's estimate is much higher than the first contractor's estimate. This estimate is for a Lenox Elite series condenser and Signature series air handler. This guy did not do a load calc, saying that he would do one once I agreed to have the work done. Again, I find this to be ridiculous and his refusal to do a load calc and his much higher estimate puts him out of the picture anyhow.
I have a couple of more contractors scheduled to do estimates. But after seeing a post where someone offered to email someone contractor names in their area I thought that I would see if that would be possible for me to get a recommendation south of Boston. Thanks and I appreciate the help that the professionals on this forum give to us clueless homeowners.