Thinking about replacing your HVAC unit might be overwhelming. Even if it’s not your first time replacing a major appliance, you might not know what to expect. To ease the process for you, we pulled together the key topics to consider as you plan and prepare.
Getting Your Cost Estimate
Whether you’re replacing your air conditioner, your furnace, or your entire HVAC unit, you’ll need to get one or more estimates from reputable HVAC companies with certified technicians. When you request an estimate from us, we come to your house at the scheduled time and begin by measuring the square footage of your house, as well as assess its structure and layout. This allows us to match the best HVAC options to your home. When the assessment is complete, we provide you with recommendations with respect to the type and size of HVAC system you need for optimal heating and cooling efficiency.
In addition, we will let you know about repairs we’d recommend to other features of your system. For example, repairs to ductwork, upgrades to insulation, or improving seals around windows and doors might be needed to prevent conditioned air from escaping.
Finding an HVAC Company and Obtaining a Written Estimate
Ensure that you contact licensed, insured, and bonded HVAC companies such as Arendosh Heating and Cooling. We can also provide you with documents to show we’re licensed and insured. We’ll provide you with a dated and signed estimate that includes every aspect of your HVAC replacement, such as:
- The amount of time required to complete the installation and repairs required
- The cost of the new system itself
- Itemized list of tasks required to complete the job with a cost for each task
- Details about the warranty of your new HVAC unit
- Any other costs for materials and clean-up
- Removal of old HVAC unit costs
Replacing One Part of the System or Both
It may be that only your air conditioner or your furnace needs replacing at this time. However, there are benefits to replacing both systems at the same time. Yes, it costs a bit more upfront – although it is cheaper to replace them simultaneously than to replace them at different times – but you’ll make up for it in efficiency. When your complete system is designed and installed to work together, you’ll maintain maximum energy efficiency and save on your utility costs.
How We Calculate the Appropriate HVAC System Size
The cooling capacity of an air conditioner is measured in tons or tonnage, which is a measure of “British Thermal Units” (BTUs). One BTU is equal to the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water 1°F at sea level. In air conditioning capacity, one tone of A/C removes 12,000 BTUs of heat every hour.
There are other factors involved in determining how much tonnage you need to cool your home (e.g., amount of insulation in your home), but square footage is the biggest component in the calculation. The simple calculation is to multiply your square footage by 25. This gives you the number of BTUs you’ll need to keep your home cool. To calculate the tonnage, divide the number of BTUs by 12,000.
For example, cooling a 1500 square foot home, which is the median size of a Western Pennsylvania house, requires 2.5 to 3 tons. A qualified technician will factor in additional details about your home to give you the precise tonnage required. For instance, a ranch-style home may require less tonnage than a two-story, as it’s more difficult to keep a second floor cool because heat rises.
These calculations prevent you from either buying a system that’s too large (i.e., too expensive for your needs) or too small (i.e., too little to keep you cool), either of which will result in inflated energy costs.
In addition to capacity, different makes and models of systems vary in their energy efficiency. Be sure to select products that are certified by Energy Star and to check the energy efficiency ratings for those systems. The more efficient the systems, the more you’ll save on utility bills. All of the systems we install are from highly respected and reputable brands. We can offer you options from these top brands to suit your house, your budget, and the efficiency ratings that work best for you and your family.
Heating efficiency is measured in HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor). A minimum rating of 7.7 HSPF is the current standard for new systems.
Cooling efficiency is expressed in SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The current minimum SEER rating is set at no less than a 13 for all new systems.
NOTE that you can opt to go with options with higher ratings than these minimums to get a higher turn on your investment in terms of energy savings. Due to the seasonal climate in the Pittsburgh area, we need both efficient heating and cooling options. However, we experience a limited amount of extreme heat or extreme cold as compared to some other regions. Therefore, we find that the minimum efficiency ratings are more than adequate in most cases.
Preparing for Your HVAC Replacement
Once you’ve decided what system(s) you’re having installed and received an agreeable estimate, you’ll be ready to move ahead and get those systems installed. For the most seamless installation, we recommend doing a few things before we show up to begin the work.
Clear space around the areas where our certified technicians will be working. This ensures they are able to work efficiently and that your belongings are safely out of the way. Pay particular attention to moving any valuables – expensive items, sentimental possessions, etc. – to safer locations during the installation. Also, make sure pets are secured away from the work area for both the safety of the animals and the contractors.
Completing the Installation – Timing and More
A single day is all that’s needed for the vast majority of HVAC system replacements. However, installations may extend into a second day if there’s anything complicated or advanced about your replacement. Anything that could prolong your installation beyond one day would likely be identified in your estimate, so you should know what to expect ahead of time. When we arrive to install the system, our crew will set up their work area and provide you with updates along the way.
Setting Up Our Work Area
We take great effort to ensure we don’t damage your property or make a mess while we’re working on your installation. For example, we will lay down protective materials to cover your floors before we begin. If any household items such as furniture remain in the work area, they may be moved out of the way or covered with plastic to protect them from dust and other debris that’s inevitable during an installation. Only after preparing the area will our technicians bring in their materials and tools and get to work on the project.
First Things First: Replacing Old HVAC Systems
“Out with the old” comes before “in with the new.” Our crew will cut the power to the HVAC systems, remove refrigerant from the existing A/C system, and then disassemble and remove the old units before bringing in and installing your new system.
Setting Up Your New Replacement HVAC
Once the old system has been removed from within and around your home, the new installation will begin. Depending upon your home and the system you selected, our crew will likely be working both inside and outside your home. For example, inside the air handler or evaporator is indoors, whereas the compressor or condensing unit is outside your home.
Testing Your New Systems
When the HVAC systems have been fully installed, our technicians test to ensure they’re working properly. We perform pressure and vacuum tests and then charge the A/C system with new refrigerant. A final, complete inspection is then performed, and any additional refrigerant that’s needed is added and the system. Then we activate the system and ensure all components are working properly.
Once we’re confident that everything is in tip-top working order, our certified technicians will explain to you how to properly operate the new system, ensure you understand the details of the warranty, and answer questions you may have.
If you’re ready to enjoy the benefits of a more comfortable home and save money on your utility bills by upgrading to more efficient systems, give us a call today to set up an appointment for a free estimate.