This is a computerized process of finding out exactly how much heat has to be removed from your home. While most contractors are ready to do this calculation for you, avoid those contractors who use a rule of thumb or makes their choice based on the size of the existing unit.
If you don’t need a new unit immediately, you can buy some basic home upgrades that will reduce the unit size to buy. Your contractor will teach you how to do this by conducting an energy conservation analysis of your home.
You next have to decide how much you can spend as it helps determine the efficiency and features of the unit you buy. Generally, its better buying the highest efficiency unit within your budget as its operating costs help you save money.
Deciding on the special features you want is the next thing to consider. Seer or efficiency and two speed units are usually considered. Be careful of ‘upselling’ by your contractor where they give you a bargain price for a basic model, and then make profits through added extras. Quotes usually have three categories usually referred to as good, better and best. Be careful as you can easily get pressured into wasting money on unnecessary add-ons.
Once you have decided on the features you want, you need to choose your brand. You can use a contractor’s brand rankings page to compare the quality of different units.
It’s essential you collect at least three written quotes including parts, materials, labor, taxes and installation costs from the local contractors. Ensure the quotes are for similar size, seer, refrigerant type, etc. of equipment.
The dealers shouldn’t add anything like indoor air quality products to the quote since if you desire any extras like improved filtration, clearly specify that it has to be listed separately on the quote so that you can compare its’ costs too. All quotes should include a standard manufacturer’s warranty.
Most states require that extended warranties be listed separately on the quote with its cost and name of the company administering the warranty. Ensure you realize which maintenance has to be carried out by a dealer before buying an extended warranty.
Dealers should provide a one-year basic labor warranty unless the manufacturers’ warranty is longer. No job should be paid for before completion and you need not pay more than half the total job cost upfront.
The last thing the dealer/installer has to do is walk around the job with you wherein you need to check everything listed below and ask for the warranty papers and owner’s manual. Check if you need to register any equipment with the manufacturer and write the final check only if you are satisfied.
1. The system should consist of a refrigerant filter/drier.
2. A level outdoor unit.
3. The electrical disconnect should be within 3 feet of the outdoor unit.
4. Your house and the outdoor unit should have a 12-inch space for proper airflow.
5. Sit the outdoor unit on a concrete or hardened plastic pad.
6. Insulated copper lines from the indoor to outdoor unit.
7. No scraps or trash lying around the installation areas.
8. Copper lines need support every four feet, and be as short as possible.
9. The main and emergency drain evaporator connections should run to a common drain.
10. Installed digital thermostat.
11. Verify proper operation by running the system through a complete cooling cycle.
12. Ask the installer how they determine the line sizes to use if the copper lines are not the same size as the unit connections. This should be shown in the manufacturers’’ installation instructions.
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