novice seeking advice about what to ask regarding new A/C installation

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  #1  
Old 12-04-13, 10:42 PM
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novice seeking advice about what to ask regarding new A/C installation

Ive lived in this house since 04 but have no knowledge regarding the age of my current ac unit.
A couple of years ago, repair guy loaded me up with freon. Recently I had to call them back again and this time he searched for leaks, claimed there wasnt one then filled me up again. Ive run the AC maybe a total of two weeks or so since then and its already out (assuming that is the problem, but whatever it is, its back)
At the time of the last visit, I was told if they have to come back fairly soon, that would indicate Id likely need an entire new setup, inside and out because if theres no leaks then the equipment is just old and needs to be replaced. That isnt verbatim, but thats the gist of the conversation, at least how I interpreted it.
Prices were tossed around 5k to 8k and what Ive been told upon asking around is that it shouldnt be quite that much. Maybe 4-5k.
From the brief investigating Ive done, it appears it is a very complex process in figuring out what size unit you need, hence the cost flexibility.
Aside from that, are there any basic tips I can get that might help me notice red flags and avoid being taken advantage of in this situation?

My first question, which I know if I ask the repair man he will say yes, but will I have to replace both the inside and outside components no matter what? And I realize Ive given vague information as to the problem, but its the best I can do.
Secondly, Is there any thing I can check myself to confirm what I am being told?
If there's any helpful info out there, Id appreciate it.
Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 12-05-13, 05:37 AM
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You need to get competitive bids from at least three different HVAC contractors. Talk to your neighbors as to who they have used and how happy they have been. The best advertizing is word of mouth.

When the contractors come out to look at the house, walk with them and ask all kinds of question. If the guy seems annoyed or non-commutative then stay away from them as a source. If they all tend to agree that you need a new system, don't be over sold in terms of size or complexity. If they say they are an exclusive (only supplier in the area) they're lying. Any contractor should be able to sell any brand.

They should measure all "living" room space in square footage. They should look and inspect the integrity of the existing duct work. Advise them if you have future plans for additions or remodeling. Do you plan on utilizing the basement as living space and need to heat or cool it.

Depending of the contractor, time of year and other market conditions any one of the major brand names will have specials in terms of price. Generally speaking all major brands (Lennox, Rheem, Bryant, etc..) are about equal if sized properly for the size house. However, at any given time a particular brand might be better priced for a particular size unit than another. Also according my contractor all condenser units are made in the same factory regardless of brand. He sold me a Rheem unit but was willing to sell me any brand I wanted but assured me the condenser would be the same no matter what. Along the same lines, its not unusual to have the contractor to mix brands on some accessories. For instance, April-air humidifies are made by Lennox, but most installers use them on any brand unit.

Also all of them should make it clear that if its a two story house, the upper floors will not be cooled as well as the first floor. If they say otherwise then they are lying.

One last note. It might be more economical if you buy a package deal of new furnace and A/C unit, depending on the age of existing furnace.
 

Last edited by Norm201; 12-05-13 at 06:14 AM. Reason: Fixing fat finger typing and spelling along with mind not in sync with fingers.
  #3  
Old 12-05-13, 10:15 AM
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Great input, I appreciate you taking the time to reply.
Thank you
 
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Old 12-05-13, 10:46 AM
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I agree with Norm201, and I'd like to add one item. I think the quality of the installation is the most important part of any job. Much of the equipment is pretty much alike, but the installation itself can make or break the performance of ANY system.
Andy
 
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Old 12-05-13, 11:33 AM
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Much of the equipment is pretty much alike, but the installation itself can make or break the performance of ANY system.
Andrew makes a good point. When my unit was being installed I stayed at watched the two techs. They did not get nervous and did not resented my being there. They answered all my questions as the did their work. When the electrical connection was to be made at the box, they had to stop and buy additional items because my box was not equipped properly. The materials they bought was over and above the quote but they did not charge me. I later mentioned this to the salesman who made a post install inspection. He said he put his best crew on the job. I mention this because most of my neighbors had their units installed by these guys and all reports were good.
 
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Old 12-05-13, 09:38 PM
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thanks for the continued input
 
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Old 12-10-13, 06:33 AM
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Regarding New A/C Installation

Read all the instructions & do your own calc a number of times in an attempt to get it in the ballpark.

HVAC Load Calculation - Whole House Loadcalc

Ask each one of the contractors if they will do a "BTU/HR Delivered Performance test of the installed system."

Take the Supply Air & Return Air wet bulb temperatures & interpose them on the enthalpy chart linked below; print the chart.
CFM X* 4.5 @sea-level, or could use X* 4.35 if 1000' above sea-level, X* change in enthalpy = BTUH (Ballpark) Operating Performance.

"U Must Right Click Link & open in New Tab," look-up wet bulb enthalpy figures on enthalpy chart," & figure enthalpy change times the result of the CFM X* the factor.

On "split-systems on ductwork" if it delivers 90% of its mfg'ers Ratings it passes, as that is considered doing okay...

Wet Bulb Enthalpy Chart Print chart

There are other ballpark methods using Expanded Data, etc.
 
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