How to look for a quality install?
Currently I have a 23 year old Duomatic Olsen Ultramax. I think this is 80% efficient. It's been through 3 blower motors and last year when the gas company came for the yearly maintenance the tech noted there was corrosion on the heat exchanger(but didn't detect any leaking CO)--they haven't come yet for this year's maintenance yet. If the heat exchanger is starting to go I'm thinking this year might be a good year to replace the furnace because of all the government grants, tax credits and store incentives.
So far I've gotten two ball park quotes one for a trane xv95 and the other a lennox gv61v. The two companies are coming next week to do load calculations and give me an actual quotes and model numbers. They're basically comparable and both include 10 years parts & labour. This is a 1950 sqft house in Ontario, Canada with all windows replaced with double pane low-e argon. I'll post again when I have some specifics but this is more of a general question I have right now:
In a lot of posts I see mention of a quality install being more important then brand. But I don't know how to judge one? Or how do I judge before there's even an install? Both sales people have been no-pressure; both mentioned a load calculation as part of the free estimate and both haven't trashed other brands(or even asked if I had gotten quotes elsewhere) If this is all I can go on to judge who will do it best how do you pick in the end when everything else is equal? The only people I know who have hvac work done have gone for the no-name companies that are pushing random "high efficiency" furnaces for very little money in those flyer packs that come in the mail so I don't have neighbour referrals.
Last edited by ndg; 10-04-2009 at 04:15 AM.
The load calculation is very important. It should be based on total exposure, not just floor area which is what most measure.
The contractor should check insulation levels, and then measure all windows, doors, walls, ceilings, floors. What directions windows face is also important as is the number of panes. Overhangs and shading should also be looked at. If they do this, then they are likely to do other things properly.
Also, air flow and duct leakage should be considered. Many systems have very low air flow. Air is the heat transfer medium. If the air flow is low, capacity and efficiency will be low as well. Ideally, some measurement of air flow should be part of the survey. This can be as simple as a static pressure test of the blower, which is much like a Doctor taking a blood pressure reading.
A visual inspection of the duct system will give some indication of the duct leakage. A duct blaster or blower door test will be even better. Such tests cost money, so a visual inspection is most likely all you will get, but even that is helpful.
Remember, Air Conditioning begins with AIR.
One of the first indicators is they are doing load calcs, give em both an A. Quality installs encompass a whole range of things. Beside evaluating your structure and present ducts system which are givens, how well a company presents itself is also a good indicator. Detailed proposals outlining what is included, models numbers of the equipment, what aux. controls including thermostats, literature showing the proposed equipment, efficiency ratings along with manufactures certs. Attitude of the sales person, pushy or genuinly interested in selling you what you want and explaining the benifits or disadvantages (we actually end up down selling some customers). Appearance of the sales person but even more important, the appearance of the installation people. Then there's the actual install, neatness counts both in how your home is treated and protected from undue damage and dirt as well as how the new equipment is installed. Don't forget the crew and their equipment (neat, clean and professional looking as well as polite). Equipment properly leveled, all piping secured, plumb, level without nasty drips and messes. Wiring run neatly and secured, vent lines run neatly and secures, refrigeration lines run neatly, secured and protected from undue damage. Minimum use of duct tape, foil tape,(we almost never use either) and neatly applied duct mastics and sealers. All sheetmetal work neat without gaps buckels, dents or a million screws. A written outline of operational measurements taken after installation that show the equipment was run tested and checked for refrigerant levels, temp rise and or differentials, air flows, proper control functions, etc.
There are no doubt alot of other things that I consider important to a quality install that are just second nature to myself and my company. We are a small company so I inspect all installs and as such have total control. Some companies use a punch list and supply it to the customer for review which is a great idea. Ask for customer referals from your area and ask if they have pictures of recent installs of jobs like yours. We do and will provide them when asked. Before signing a final contract, go over warranties in writing (not verbal) as well as who provides them and what happens if this company is unable to fulfil them for what ever reason. What is the schedule for the start of work and an approximate time frame for completion (in writing) and terms of payment. Our standard is 50% deposit with the balance due on completion or terms layed out in the financing paperwork. We also do followup checks after the job is completed to make sure there are no problems, issues or questions and thank you cards are sent to installation customers as well.
A good HVAC tech knows how, an educated HVAC tech knows why!
You can find the ANSI stanard for a Quality Install.
Thanks very much for the information. The ansi specification was particularly interesting. It's helping because this seems like the most complicated thing I've ever had to buy. I just wish there was more quantitative data on the actual products.