Well-maintained heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or HVAC system, can last up to 15 years or more, so most homeowners do not make more than a couple of these purchases in a lifetime. During those fifteen years, technology changes so much that the criteria used for making one purchase will certainly have changed before the next purchase. Unless you work in this field, pulling together all of the relevant information can be time-consuming and confusing.
Here are seven frequently asked questions that should help prepare for the next steps in purchasing a new HVAC system:
1. Can someone give me the basics?
A central HVAC system will use several components to move heat. A refrigerant gas will move heat from inside the house to the outside during the cooling season. The same gas will move heat from outside the house to the inside of the house during the heating season. These two processes use a number of major components:
2. How can I determine the right sized system for my home?
If you are replacing an existing HVAC system, you might be tempted to buy the same sized system installed in your home more than 15 years ago. That is not necessarily the proper decision. Nor should you purchase whatever is in stock in the local HVAC warehouse.
3. Am I required to replace the entire system at once?
Replacing the air conditioning and heating system at once is the best practice. Combining 15-year-old technology with cutting-edge components is a roll of the dice at best. New, eco-friendly refrigerant gases may not function in old system components. The new system will have sensors, detecting variations that were not considered in the past. So overall, the answer is, “yes, you should replace the entire system together.”
However, in emergency situations—such as a furnace failure in extremely cold winter—talk to your HVAC professional about emergency alternatives.
4. Is it necessary to replace the ductwork at the same time?
Ductwork was built into the very walls of your home before the walls were enclosed. Replacing ductwork would be very expensive and require a major disruption of your family life during replacement. Therefore, duct replacement would be rare and limited, except in the most extreme cases. Circumstances that might require duct replacement include:
These problems would most likely present themselves before decision time; evidence of an airflow problem might figure into the decision to replace the HVAC system. If the ductwork is intact and functioning properly, it will not need to be replaced. Getting the ducts cleaned before the new system is a proper decision.
5. What should I know about filters?
The “V” in HVAC stands for ventilation. Ventilation refers to moving fresh, clean air throughout the house. Air filters and air purifiers remove airborne contaminants. Filter options include disposable filters, washable filters, and hospital-grade filters that provide very good indoor air quality. In-line air purifiers can also neutralize organic material, including mold, mildew, bacteria, and viruses. Talk with your HVAC professional about specific needs and preferences.
6. What should I know about thermostats?
Thermostat technology has provided remarkable flexibility, allowing homeowners to customize comfort and savings. It is now possible to program daily heating and cooling cycles that match your family’s schedule precisely. Keeping your home at the same temperature 24/7 does not make sense and it wastes energy and money. You can now schedule your furnace to:
Most new thermostats are programmable, while Smart thermostats include a phone or mobile device app. A Smart thermostat adds many features, including the ability to change the temperature on the fly, should your schedule change. Check with your HVAC professional about thermostat options for your new system.
7. With so many HVAC companies, how can I choose the right contractor?
Many people CAN do the work but deciding who enters your home to help you make such an important decision is vitally important. Hopefully, you have been developing a relationship with an HVAC firm, someone you trusted to maintain your existing system. If not, here are some key criteria for choosing an HVAC professional: