Unfortunately, many homeowners rush through the process of choosing or replacing their home cooling system – and as a result they make mistakes for which they could be paying for years to come.
The best way to avoid these problems? We recommend a two step process: first, educate yourself by learning from other people’s mistakes – and second, work with experienced A/C professionals to make sure the work is done right the first time!
Choosing an un-bonded company. The bonding process provides insurance for you as a customer; it guarantees that your contractor will operate in an ethical manner and in compliance with all relevant rules and regulations. If your contractor fails to meet these standards, you could be entitled to financial benefits. If your A/C contractor isn’t bonded, find another candidate.
Choosing a company with under-qualified technicians. Today’s air conditioners are complex mechanical and electronic devices; if you want to get the most out of them, you need them to be installed by HVAC experts. When you choose a company with NATE-certified technicians, you can rest assured that you are getting A/C installations and service that will maximize your comfort and efficiency – not to mention the lifespan of your cooling equipment.
Waiting too long for an A/C upgrade. A 12- to 15-year-old air conditioner may still work, but it could be operating at 70 percent efficiency or less. By replacing it with a new cooling system that operates at well over 90 percent efficiency, you could save hundreds of dollars in energy bills every summer – enough to pay for the upgrade in just a few years.
Rushing your installation. Once you decide to replace your cooling system, take your time and do it right. An error in judgment or a rushed purchasing decision could cost you a ton of money – both now and for years to come.
Not replacing your whole system when the time comes. Your indoor air conditioning components (blowers, fans, and coils) are designed to work with your system’s outdoor A/C component (the condenser unit). Replacing one component at a time results in a patchwork system that won’t operate as well or as efficiently.
Purchasing the least expensive system. If the price of your air conditioner installation seems too good to be true, it probably is. A bargain-priced system often includes cheaply made parts installed by poorly paid people who work for companies that routinely cut corners to save a buck. When you see a low-priced system, consider it a red flag – you’ll pay more for that installation one way or another, either now (in the form of higher bills) or down the road (in the form of avoidable repairs and replacement parts). Often both.
Requesting too many bids. Comparison-shopping is a good practice – but resist the urge to go overboard. Whittle your bids down to a small handful of providers; if you have a contractor you trust, give them the opportunity to match your best (again, not the cheapest) bid. Remember, loyalty can help you and your contractor.
Not getting a written estimate on installation work. Avoid phone estimates and handshakes; a contractor can easily renege on their agreement, leaving you with little recourse other than time consuming, costly, and difficult legal remedies.
Not having a contract in place before work begins. As the adage goes, “get it in writing” – including a detailed accounting of schedule, fees, labor needs, and equipment costs, plus future expenses for upkeep, potential upgrade paths, and more.
Not getting a written warranty on installation work. A reputable HVAC contractor stands by their work – and they’ll do it in writing with a no-hassle, no-questions asked, 100 percent guarantee that will protect you and your family from any unforeseen breakdowns and other problems. Look for a guarantee that lasts at least a year, especially if you have your cooling system installed in the cooling offseason.
We’ll continue with 11 more common mistakes for cooling system installations in Part Two of this post– stay tuned!