During a recent service call, an Arlington air conditioning service and repair tech said something telling: “For most of us,” he said, “the days of just selling boxes is over.”
Go on. Elaborate.
“Homeowners are looking for more than just air conditioners,” said the tech, who has more than 20 years experience at an Arlington air conditioning contractor.
“They want to money. They want to save energy. They want improved comfort and convenience. They’re curious about the Internet and apps that control their air condoners from a smart phone.
“If I am not providing these solutions, I am leaving the door open for my competitors.”
In this post we look at different HVAC topics like understanding air flow, new energy efficiency opportunities, the importance of ventilation, and evolving rules of thumb.
Understanding Air Flow
HVAC contractors focus on the “box” and the proper installation of equipment — a very good thing, indeed.
But these contractors may not pay much attention to air flow and how cooled or heated air moves throughout the home. Bunching a series of ducts together, creating what is known as a “ductopus,” isn’t quality work or air-flow efficient.
If you’re having a new system installed, make sure the Arlington air conditioning contractor you use gives more than “lip service” to existing airflow in the home. How’s the conditioned air moving throughout the home? Through a series of messy, twisty, inefficient ducts? Or through a series of well-routed, carefully planned ducts that move air efficiently?
For most homeowners, the cost involved in replacing an entire duct system is prohibitive and out of the question. It is, however, possible to remedy the problems with Aeroseal, a new technology that works from the inside of ducts to seal leaks without having to tear into walls or rip up insulation.
New Energy Efficiency Opportunities
In the residential market, HVAC contractors go into people’s homes every day on service and repair calls. They inspect the outside unit(s) and look over the furnace(s). They may glance over the ducts and check out the insulation in the attic, but are they really considering the home’s entire “energy envelope?”
Chances are, no.
It’s a fine line for HVAC professionals to walk. If the service tech says something to the homeowner, he may feel like the company hired is trying to push additional, costlier services that he may or may not want to spend money on at the time.
The service tech, and the company he works for, is more than just heating, ventilation, and air conditioning experts. They are becoming energy efficiency consultants who advise homeowners on what can be done to improve overall performance, save wear and tear on heating and cooling equipment, and save money.
Arlington-area air conditioning consultants are becoming experts to turn to for energy-saving assistance and advice, even if they are not the ones you choose to do the air duct or insulation work.
Remembering the V in HVAC
New homes are “tighter” than ever before due to energy codes that require improved levels of air sealing and, in some cases, even blower door tests to verify air tightness.
These new homes, and ones recently built in the Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas area, need mechanical ventilation, including spot ventilation in kitchen and bathrooms.
Your service tech should understand the three strategies for providing mechanical ventilation, including positive pressure, negative pressure, and balanced pressure.
New Rules of Thumb
HVAC contractors often favor what’s known as rules of thumb.
It’s worked this way in the past.
Or You have X number of square feet, you will need an air conditioner with this amount of tonnage.
Yeah, anybody that says something like, This is the way we’ve always done it and we’ve been in business for all these years, you might want to look elsewhere for a company to handle your service and repair needs.
Heating and cooling systems aren’t the same as they were 25 years ago, or even 10. Nor are the homes. The old rules of thumb don’t apply because every house and every environment and circumstance is different. Yes, there are similarities and probabilities, but that doesn’t mean a contractor shouldn’t check the math and think out of the HVAC box.
HVAC systems are complex. If your Arlington air conditioning contractor is relying on the old rules of thumb then not servicing your needs well at all.
Whole House Approach
This is akin to rules of thumb. In the past HVAC equipment was installed into a home and it was largely forgotten unless service or repair was needed.
Today, all sorts of advances in technology demand a “whole house” or “house-as-a-system” thinking — from improvements in HVAC equipment, to understanding building science and indoor air quality, to the integration of the Internet into everything.
Smart Arlington air conditioning contractors know what’s happening beyond metal boxes outside the house and in the attic.
Understanding Combustion Safety
An HVAC contractor may get a call from an Arlington, Fort Worth, or Dallas homeowner regarding carbon monoxide. The service tech often heads to the furnace and looks for cracks in the heat exchanger. So far, so good.
When the service tech finds that the heat exchanger isn’t cracked, he may assume that it was a false alarm and changes the batteries in the carbon monoxide alarm.
Be aware that many HVAC contractors do not know much about backdrafting of combustion appliances and they don’t often test for flue gases and worst-case depressurization.
During the service call, ask about backdrafting and testing for flue gasses, depressurization, and other possibilities.
Beware the Low Bidder
It’s not that we want you to overspend when installing a new HVAC system or when paying for service and repair. The most expensive isn’t always the best, but neither is the least expensive.
The race to the low bidder results in everyone being a loser. The ones who don’t get the contract lose. The one who gets the contract can’t do the work properly because he has to scrimp on labor and materials due to his low bid. The homeowner loses because, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
When contractors low-bid work, they have to keep their costs as low as possible. They hire poorly trained service techs and then don’t do enough to get them trained properly and keep them updated. They use equipment that won’t last. They do the least work possible on the distribution system.
Make sure you hire a smart Arlington air conditioning contractor who comes in and does things right, for a fair price, and is aware of the changing HVAC landscape. The days of being the low bidder, the days of selling and servicing boxes, is over.
The times are definitely changing.
What worked before may not work now.
Specification and building codes are becoming more stringent, new technologies are providing improved solutions, and homeowners are demanding higher performance, higher energy efficiency solutions, at a reasonable cost.