4 Questions to Ask Your HVAC Contractor Before Buying a New AC Unit
As the useful life of your air conditioner nears its end and the quality of cold and hot air you’re getting diminishes, the need for replacing your air conditioner becomes even greater. To tell you the truth in the simplest way possible, air conditioners don’t actually last forever. They may seem like sturdy machines that will keep rumbling on to the end of time, but the truth is that they need to be replaced every once in a while when certain signs start to show.
If you have an air conditioner that’s a lot older than you’d actually want it to be, then it’s probably a good idea to swap it out with a much newer unit simply based on it’s age — even when your denial causes you to think that it’s still okay as long as it’s working.
Other than a drastic reduction in air quality and performance, one of the telltale signs of an old air conditioner needing to be replaced is a rise in electricity bills in spite of the fact that nothing has changed in terms of your usage habits and patterns. Older air conditioners tend to use up a lot more energy due to a decrease in functionality and a need to keep up with demand. This, in turn, results in an electric bill charge that’s significantly higher than expected.
Contrary to popular belief, getting a new air conditioner will actually save you a lot more money in the long-run. Thanks to modern advances in technology such as energy-saving settings and improved product components, newer air conditioner models have been designed and engineered in a way that allows them to cut back on their energy usage. Other than energy-related concerns, newer air conditioning units can also help cut opportunity costs and other miscellaneous expenses that usually come with an older unit. This is because modern units are usually equipped with air quality enhancement technology, which helps block out allergies and other reasons for a trip to the drug store or hospital.
Convinced that you need to replace your air conditioner? Before you head to the checkout counter, here are some questions you’ll need to ask your HVAC contractor before you settle on the air conditioner model that you’re going to buy:
1. “How will you size the new air conditioner model?”
Before we jump to the right answers to this question, here are some of the wrong answers that will probably act as a sign that you need to find another HVAC contractor:
“You have a 4-ton air conditioner unit, so we’ll simply just get a newer 4-ton unit!”
“Your AC unit is a 4-ton one, but we’ll just put in a 6-ton unit so that your house is much colder.”
“So you have a 3000 square-foot house, so that means you’ll have to get a 4-ton unit!”
The first answer is wrong because a good HVAC contractor won’t base their final measurements right away on the previous contractor’s actions, the second one is a terrible one because “more is better” doesn’t work for AC units, and the third is wrong as well because square footage isn’t the best way to size a new air conditioner model. In order to see if your HVAC contractor will actually answer this question properly, they’ll need to measure the house in terms of the actual heating and cooling loads of your home, window types, R-value, orientation, and other factors in order to know the best possible sizing for your home.
2. “Will you be using a house-as-a-system approach?”
In relation to the last question, a trustworthy and skilled HVAC contractor will see the task of determining which air conditioner is best for your home as a matter of using a systemic approach rather than guesswork. To determine which air conditioner unit is the best replacement for your current one, an HVAC contractor will have to check other important factors in your home such as duct leakage, insulation, and air leakage to get a proper grasp of the answer.
3. “Are you going to test for duct leakage?”
Aside from their air conditioner itself, another important aspect of effectively cooling your home and keeping it comfortable is the distribution system, which is commonly known as the “duct system.” Before offering an air conditioner unit recommendation in the first place, an expert HVAC contractor will actually have to check for duct leakage first and see if fixing it will make a significant difference. Even when your AC unit itself is in desperate need of changing at just a glance, an HVAC contractor will still have to check for duct leakage to make sure that no cool air goes to waste by exiting the leaks in your ducts.
4. “Will you be testing for air flow in the home first?”
Along with the house-as-a-system approach, a properly-trained HVAC contractor will also check the air flow in your home with a testing procedure before they can recommend a new air conditioning system to purchase. By testing your home’s air flow, an HVAC contractor can see what else your house needs and how it works to see what specific functions and AC unit features will work best to keep you and your household comfortable.
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