Buyers Guide: HVAC Virginia Beach
Purchasing a new HVAC “Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning” system for your home is a major home improvement project that should not be taken lightly so we have prepared an HVAC Virginia Beach Buyers Guide to help you make informed decisions.
Some of the issues we will address are crucial to the purchasing process like choosing the right contractor, the type of system and negotiating a price. This is a comprehensive guide that will cover many of the key factors that go into buying a new or replacement system for your HVAC Virginia Beach home. Our hope is that you will feel more educated and confident when entering the purchasing process, and if you need any help you can always contact us at Dimare’s Heating and Cooling Services.
Since you will probably won’t be the one installing, repairing or even maintaining your home HVAC system, this guide in focused mainly on helping you with the buying process so you get the best price and correct services for your situation.
Types of HVAC Systems
The list below represents the most common types of HVAC systems and the basic principles of how they work.
Central Air Conditioners
Central air conditioning systems distribute cool air throughout your home using a circuit or series of connected ducts. Split systems, both an inside and outside component, are the most common types. Refrigerant circulates between the condensing and evaporator coils and the air is cooled as it passes through the evaporator coil. A blower assembly, fan and motor, provides the necessary circulation to distribute air.
Heat pumps are capable of delivering both heated and cool air. They work by transferring the inside heat to the outside during the summer months to cool the home, and extracting heat from the outside air or ground to the inside during the winter months to warm it. Heat pump systems are one of the most energy-efficient systems available today. Although a heat pump will cost you more up front, the energy savings realized over the first few years of its operation usually pay for the additional costs.
A furnace is part of the forced air family as well. There are various types of furnaces with the most common using gas combustion or electric resistance heat strips to produce the necessary heat. Most are equipped with a blower assembly to distribute the heated air throughout the home. Since a furnace is only capable of producing heat it is sometimes retrofitted with a central air conditioner to provide cool air during the summer months.
The Proper Approach
Don’t make the mistake of approaching a new HVAC purchase like any other home appliance, this is not like a refrigerator where all the necessary components are tested and fine-tuned prior to reaching your home and all you have to do is plug it in. The components of an HVAC system may be created in a factory like a fridge but they must be assembled, connected, charged with refrigerant, tested and fine-tuned by your contractor, who is basically the last man on the assembly line. Finding a qualified contractor will ensure against a poorly installed system prone to failure, lowered life expectancy, land-poor energy efficiency and poor-performance.
What all this means is that when it comes to purchasing a new HVAC system, your system is only as good as the technician or contractor installing it, which is one of the major points to take away from our HVAC Virginia Beach buying guide.
How to Choose an HVAC Virginia Beach Contractor
Now that we have determined how important it is to choose a qualified contractor in, its time to learn how to find the right one for your installation. Familiarize yourself with the basic principles of HVAC. Compile a list of local HVAC contractors and read their references and reviews. Check with the BBB “Better Business Bureau” for listed complaints or lawsuits, check with your state and local building departments to verify they have the proper licenses and insurance required for your area.
Schedule estimates and interviews at a time when all decision makers are present.
Ask the contractor about the necessary building permits and who is responsible for obtaining them as the contractor should do it for you even though you can do it yourself.
During the bidding process, contractors should calculate the required cooling and heating capacity of your home using a recognized method such as the ACCA’s residential load calculation for ductwork. This allows them to assess the necessary cooling and heating requirements on a room-by-room basis.
The HVAC Virginia Beach contractor should verify any existing ductwork is adequate for the new installation. If he/she finds that it falls below industry standards or is incorrect, they should point out the problem and discuss avenues to correct it.
After receiving the estimates, confer with your trusted allies and go over each one with a magnifying glass. Take into consideration the contractor’s appearance, personality and the level of experience and knowledge he/she conveys during the interview process.
Replacing an HVAC System
Many homeowners assume that they can replace their old system with a new one of the same size. Although it is a possibility, it should not be assumed. Many variables are involved when sizing a unit. These variables could have changed since the old equipment was installed. Window and door replacement, deteriorating or inadequate insulation, landscaping and room additions can all affect the heating and cooling requirements. It could be that the last HVAC contractor miscalculated when they installed the old equipment. A quality HVAC technician will make their own determination with new calculations.
Today’s HVAC systems require a minimum SEER “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating” of 13 and higher. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the system will be. In addition, more efficiency means more savings for you as the system will consume less energy.
Maintaining your new HVAC system should be calculated in your budget. It is in your best interest to protect your investment by scheduling annual maintenance with your HVAC contractor. Some HVAC companies offer discounted labor rates for customers who sign up with their yearly maintenance programs. Periodic maintenance keeps your unit running at peak efficiency and prevents unexpected breakdowns that can lead to costly repairs.
HVAC systems have many parts and components. A poorly installed system will never meet its efficiency standards or reach its expected lifespan. So, the question remains, how do you buy the right HVAC system for your home? The answer is simple, choose the right HVAC contractor. In the end, it does not matter which brand you buy or how much you spent, your new system is only going to be as good as the contractor who installed it.