If your home is cool in the summer, toasty in the winter, and your cooling and heating bills are not astronomical, chances are your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor has your system well cared for and calibrated just right.
There are, however, a minority of fly-by-night contractors in business for a quick buck, thinking that most people pay little attention to their equipment once installed, unless it stops working.
In this post we present common mistakes poorly trained HVAC service and repair technicians make when replacing or repairing aging equipment.
Common Mistakes Made By Inexperienced Contractors
Poorly Designed Airflow Systems
It’s understandable that in older Arlington, Fort Worth, or Dallas homes there may be decades of ductwork modifications and messy add-ons that have, over the years, reduced efficiency and cost you more money on monthly utility bills.
Unfortunately, even newer homes can display inadequate air distribution systems with ductwork that is too restrictive or is not properly balanced throughout the home.
Inadequate air distribution systems and restrictive ductwork is a common mistake made by inexperienced contractors and installation or service techs.
If you are considering buying a new home in the North Texas area, have your Arlington air conditioning contractor — if you have one — inspect the home’s HVAC infrastructure to make sure make sure it is properly sized and delivers conditioned air efficiently. You don’t want to turn around and drop 10 grand for new equipment two years after moving in.
Know What Kind of Equipment You Need
If you are considering installing a new HVAC system, make sure the Arlington air conditioning contractor or service and repair tech you use actually takes time to understand your specific needs.
Some contractors have been known to base equipment needs on similar installations, even ordering a system without taking the time to review the detailed needs of your home or, in the case of businesses, the needs of the commercial building and occupants.
Make sure the salesman, installation, or service representative spends time assessing ceilings, outer walls, windows and doors, insulation, fans, and the home’s energy envelope before recommending equipment and quoting a price. Don’t accept an “all looks good” response and press for details you understand.
Get at least three bids from Arlington air conditioning contractors, representing low, middle, and high options. Apple to apple consistency, when possible, is important when trying to understand the best options to fit your budget and circumstances. Apples-to-oranges doesn’t do you any good.
Bidding a Job Too Low
Experienced contractors in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas know that everybody loses if he bids too low on a project. The company is stuck trying to do a job for less, which forces it to use low cost labor, skimp on materials, and take shortcuts.
You, the customer, lose because you get a second-rate installation. When problems inevitably arise, the contractor or service and repair techs are going to be reluctant to respond in a quick, supportive manner because they simply can’t afford to spend any more time and money on the installation.
Reputable contractors will lose a job before they “race to the bottom” with a lowball bid. Inexperienced HVAC companies may be desperate for work and will submit bids that seem too good to be true.
When choosing an Arlington air conditioning contractor, it’s good to go with a known name. That doesn’t mean, however, you can’t use a lesser-known, up-and-coming company.
If you are interested in a smaller company’s bid, make sure you check references. If the owner is reluctant to give you more than one or two names, find somebody else to do business with.
Make Sure You Have Appropriate Ductwork
In purchasing new HVAC equipment, it’s best — and cheaper — to use existing ductwork. However, when considering what company to use, make sure it thoroughly examines the ductwork for any potential problems or issues.
Not having the right duct size for the system you’re considering can cause air leaks, resulting in higher energy bills to make up for the loss.
Inefficient ductwork causes the system to be overworked, which can lead to increased condensation (and therefore a mold risk) and early equipment failure.
An experienced Arlington air conditioning installation or service technician will explain how a properly sized and placed duct system works. And while looking over the existing ductwork, he should keep an eye out for any possible water damage (from plumbing leaks or exterior damage), along with any gaps that pests can enter the system.
If there are issues with existing ductwork, make sure the installation or service rep informs you immediately how it impacts his bid. Obviously, new ductwork will add cost to the overall project.
Install an Emergency Overflow Pan
This should be a no-brainer. The homeowner either doesn’t know an emergency overflow pan exists or is needed. Inexperienced HVAC installers have been known to leave an overflow pan out of the system or install one quickly and poorly, often with misaligned condensation pipes.
If a clog was ever to happen, and you didn’t have a properly set overflow pan, water may leak onto a ceiling or seep into walls, resulting in significant water damage and additional cost.
It happens more than you think, especially in slightly older homes — the 20-year-old range.
A reputable HVAC contractor will hire experienced service and repair technicians, who will look for refrigerant leaks during semi-annual checkups and inspections.
Air conditioners work extremely hard in Arlington and North Texas summers and refrigerant can leak. It’s hazardous to handle and can wear out a cooling system more rapidly if it’s leaking. An Arlington air conditioning company, as well as others in North Texas, are trained to handle refrigerant, homeowners are not.
Always request that your Arlington air conditioning contractor check for low refrigerant levels, particularly on equipment more than 10 years old.
Shop Around for the Best Service Tech
Often when buying new HVAC equipment you will deal with sales representatives, not the actual installation and service techs. Be aware of a company’s reputation and check references yourself, don’t just rely on online comments.
There are plenty of contractors who have no problem taking shortcuts when installing inferior equipment, which will cause you more harm in the long run.
Knowing the system you plan to have installed, knowing something about the Arlington air conditioning company you plan to use, will help you better understand what’s being done. You don’t want to pull out your wallet to pay for unnecessary, avoidable mistakes by a lesser experienced contractor.
Safety Related Mistakes
You assume your furnace is operating safely, but how do you know? Many new homes in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas have carbon monoxide alarms installed that provide a level of safety that hasn’t always been available.
Safety issues can pop up when a carbon monoxide alarm goes off and the root cause isn’t properly diagnosed. An inexperienced or poorly trained service tech will probably check the combustion chamber of the furnace for cracks and, if none are evident, will assume the battery on the tester is low and needs replacement.
What an inexperienced tech may not understand is that there are other causes of excess carbon monoxide such as backdrafts. Even worse, they probably don’t have the equipment or training to test for escaping flue gases.
Safety is too important to leave to amateurs. Make sure the Arlington air conditioning contractor and service and repair techs you use are trained and licensed in all facets of the trade.