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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Williamsburg, VA
    Posts
    386
    As a homeowner with very little HVAC knowledge, how will I be able to tell a good heat pump system install from a bad one, aside from sloppy work?

    Does anyone have any links to photos of what you consider to be good "text book" residential installs, or perhaps an HVAC heat pump installation check list?

    [Edited by kcrossley on 01-28-2005 at 10:14 PM]

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,088
    Pictures will show any obvious sloppy work, but will not reveal shoddy workmanship in other areas. For example, if the installer does not do a good evacuation of the lineset after installation. Back up a sec...he doesn't flow nitrogen while brazing the lines, then he doesn't do a good evac before charging the lineset and indoor coil. If you didn't know any better, you, the homeowner, would never know these steps, once skipped, have jeopardized the performance and longivity of your system.

    Wait...there's more. Pictures won't reveal a contractor who skips doing a proper heat load calculation on your home. Oh, maybe when the coil freezes up or you're taking pictures of the tech changing out a compressor - for the second time - otherwise only your discomfort and dissatisfaction with the system's performance will be evidence.

    Inadequate ductwork will also compromise the installation. Each room of your house should be analyzed as to how many CFM's of air it needs to meet the heating or cooling loads of that room, under a wide variety of conditions.
    Leaking ductwork will rob your unit of efficiency and drive up utility costs.

    If you are purchasing a more complex heat pump, your contractor should ensure that all features of that heat pump are wired correctly and enabled. Multi-stage heating or cooling configurations are sometimes overlooked because the installer has no training, experience, or desire to trouble himself to take the extra measures to enable all features of the system. Before you sign off on the job, have the contractor walk you through every feature of the system.

    What every homeowner should aim for when getting a new system is total interior comfort. If you're dealing with a guy who goes by "rules of thumb" such as so may square feet per ton, talks a lot about SEER without factoring heat loads, humidity, etc., you may want to reconsider your choice of contractor. Find somebody who can set you up with a system that can respond to almost any comfort need you can throw at it. It'll cost you more but it'll be way worth it.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    7,680
    Shophound should get the reply of the week award.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    3,400
    Shophound should get the reply of the week award.
    I second the motion.


    One obvious thing should be noted.

    If the installation looks bad, the chances that the equipment and ductwork was sized properly are pretty slim.

    By extension, if a company employs people that do sloppy ductwork, they are likely to employ sloppy refrigeration people as well (same guy?). People with no nitrogen, no micron guage, or deep vacuum pump.

    The "Wall of Pride" should be employed for a benchmark, with a caution.

    Local codes differ.
    What's acceptable in one area may be strictly against the rules somewhere else.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Derby City
    Posts
    3,957
    Cudos to shophound. You covered virtually all the bases. I would strongly suggest references from others in your area that you can contact and even in some cases see the installs. We used to keep an up-to-date list of references and with their permission, potential customers could actually visit those homes and see for themselves the installation.

    I think it was also mentioned be sure you deal with a licensed contractor, that the proper permits are obtained, AND that a subsequent inspection is performed. Sometimes if the local code enforcement authority is not notified of a job's completion, it may not get inspected. This is for YOUR protection.

    Remember, there are probably a lot of people who though the Yugo was a great idea!

    Don't overlook the obvious. Sites like this one get you access to professionals that welcome inquiries like yours. When you can avoid references to price, and the like, you can get some good solid authoritative insight.

    The complete job should be a win - win. Good for you and good for the contractor. This should be the start of a long running relationship. If they earn your trust in order to perform this job, and do so with a high level of intergrity and professinalism, then they have earned the right to have the OPPORTUNITY to provide any subsequent work you need.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,088
    Thanks for the kind words, guys.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Crossley, it looks like his install's already got some problems (see his latest thread with pics), and the competency of the people installing it raise red flags in my mind.

    Man, David Debien (Central City Air http://www.centralcityair.com) down in Houston ought to think about opening a branch of his company in any major city he wants to. His emphasis on total system comfort design and quality of installation is a benchmark for the residential end of this industry. It's a crying shame that when a homeowner goes to get his system replaced, he has a far greater chance of running into a hack than something like Central City Air.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

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