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5 Typical Misconceptions When Buying New HVAC Equipment

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#1 The Equipment is the Most Important Component of My Purchasing Decision – FALSE

Energy Star logoWhen conducting research on brands, you will find organizations like Consumer Reports and Consumer Digest that make comparisons between individual equipment brands and customers’ experiences with them. These surveys are valid to a certain degree. But the reality is that many brands of furnaces, air conditioners, and heat pumps are manufactured by the same companies. When you choose from reputable, first-tier brands, the major difference in performance will come from who conducts the installation. In fact, based on research from ENERGY STAR, improper installation can reduce performance by as much as 30%. The company you chose to install and retrofit your equipment is the most important variable in your decision.

#2 When it Comes to Equipment, Bigger is Better – FALSE

ACCA LogoSize matters. Some homeowners believe that bigger is better, but that is not necessarily true. A system actually operates best when each component is properly sized and tailored for your home. Oversized equipment may cycle on and off more frequently, which can make the home less comfortable and dramatically shorten the equipment's life. In some cases, when equipment shuts down several times, it might temporarily stop working to prevent any unnecessary malfunctioning. When buying new heating and cooling equipment, you need someone who will take measurements of your home and do calculations to determine the appropriate size for your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump using the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual J or equivalent (ACCA).

#3 My Old Equipment is Not Powerful Enough – FALSE

Ducts circulate air from the furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump throughout the house. Often ducts have damaged or poor connections that leak hot or cold air and waste a lot of energy. Sealing ducts can greatly improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. You need someone who will consider duct leakage and make necessary repairs to minimize losses. In most cases, it is recommended that total duct leakage be no more than 20% per ENERGY STAR guidelines. Your equipment may be powerful enough, but you might be losing performance due to ductwork leakage. Have a professional take a look at it.

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#4 I Have Uneven Temperatures In The Home Because My Furnace is Old – FALSE

To operate well, a heating or cooling system needs to have the proper volume of airflow. If the airflow is too high or too low, the system may not heat or cool each room evenly. Airflow and ductwork design need to be considered at the time of replacing equipment, especially if the performance of the old equipment was not optimum. This is the reason why no one can quote this kind of work over the phone, or without taking all the necessary evaluative steps. In short, you need a real expert to evaluate the actual airflow of your home before determining the solution to the problem.

#5 My A/C is Not Cooling Properly; I need More Refrigerant (Central A/C and Heat Pump Only– FALSE

EPA LogoIt is important for an air conditioner or heat pump to have the correct amount of refrigerant, or correct refrigerant charge. An improperly charged system may consume more energy and provide less dehumidification. To check the level of refrigerant, the equipment must first run for several minutes (never in extremely cold conditions) and then be adjusted, if necessary, to make your home comfortable and avoid waste on your utility bills. Note: Once the refrigerant level is corrected, properly working A/Cs do not need to be recharged every year. If you continue to need to add refrigerant, there is most likely a leak that must be repaired.

Moreover, when working with refrigerants, don’t forget that they are harmful to the ozone layer, and proper handling is necessary to prevent any damage to the environment. Since there is no control mechanism from the EPA, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to hire a contractor that has the training and the equipment necessary for the safe handling of the refrigerant. Read more about the HCFC-22 face-out and how to handle it professionally here.

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