If you suspect it’s time to replace your HVAC system, or if you’ve been planning for this expense, you want to be able to trust the HVAC contractor who installs it for you. And there are three questions to ask your HVAC company that most people don’t know to ask.
The answers to these questions reveal the quality of work you can expect from the HVAC company you choose, which is just as important as the brand of HVAC equipment you go with. You can buy the best equipment available, but if it’s poorly installed, it will fail you.
We covered these three questions in a previous post on when to replace your air conditioner. But that post covers a lot of other information too. And we wanted to give more attention to these questions. The answers will help you narrow your HVAC contractor choices to those at the top of their game.
So let’s get to it! Besides the basic questions about prices and warranties and the like, here are three additional questions you need to ask when replacing your HVAC system:
- How will you connect my new HVAC system to my existing ductwork?
- Will you replace my refrigerant lines?
- How do you connect the new line set?
Now let’s discuss the answers you should expect from a top-quality HVAC pro.
How will you connect my new HVAC system to my existing ductwork?
In many, if not most, HVAC system replacements, the new installation will connect to your existing ductwork. These connection points are called transitions.
Solid and secure transitions are essential for proper airflow throughout your home. And proper airflow is essential for your comfort and for the longevity of your furnace and air conditioner.
Here’s the biggest thing to know: high-quality transitions are not merely joined. They are built.
Ideally, your HVAC contractor will custom-build transitions for your specific ductwork.
This is because the shape, number, and position of connection points from one home to the next, and from one HVAC system to the next, are never uniform.
During your HVAC replacement project, a company with expertise and attention to detail will:
- Take detailed measurements of your current ductwork.
- Build strong transitions for you using sheet metal and other durable materials.
- Fit your new transitions precisely to your existing ductwork, and to the new HVAC equipment you’ve purchased.
If an HVAC company proposes using only adhesives for transitions at the point of installation, you shouldn’t expect quality replacement work from them.
Will you replace my refrigerant lines?
First, let’s talk about refrigerant lines. There are two of them, and they connect the indoor component of your HVAC system (the A/C evaporator) to the outdoor component (the A/C condenser or your heat pump). These two lines are called the line set.
Made of insulated copper, the line set is responsible for displacing heat from your home and transporting it outside. One of the lines carries refrigerant in gaseous form. The other carries refrigerant in liquid form.
Obviously, “will you replace my refrigerant lines” is a yes or no question. You’re looking for a yes from your HVAC company because any thorough HVAC replacement includes replacing the line set as well.
There are two reasons why an HVAC system replacement should include a line set replacement:
- Replacing the line set prevents any contaminants or debris from your old HVAC system from entering the new HVAC system.
- Replacing the line set outfits your new HVAC system with properly sized, fully insulated refrigerant lines. This is critical for preventing refrigerant leaks.
Some HVAC companies propose simply flushing the existing refrigerant lines when replacing an HVAC system.
Sometimes flushing is your only option, such as when the line set is buried in walls or floors. But if it’s possible to access the refrigerant lines at all, the best practice is to replace them.
How do you connect the new line set?
So, we’ve established that your HVAC company should replace the line set when they replace your HVAC system. But how exactly will they do it?
Homeowners rarely ask how the lines between their HVAC system components will be connected, but the technique used here determines whether you get a superior HVAC replacement job or an average (or inferior) one.
A common practice for joining HVAC lines of various metals – typically copper – is soldering them. But a quality HVAC company will braze rather than solder these lines. Brazing is similar to soldering, but brazing is done at a higher temperature.
A brazed line set installation is more durable and secure than a soldered one. This is because brazing does the following:
- Creates a stronger bond between joints, even those of different materials and thicknesses.
- More thoroughly bridges gaps between loose joints.
- Delivers cleaner, more corrosion-resistant joints.
Further, your HVAC company should ensure the integrity of your HVAC installation by vacuum testing it. This is the process of keeping the copper lines completely clean as they’re brazed. Vacuum testing requires pushing nitrogen through the system to prevent oxidation in any lines or joints and to ensure an entirely airtight and leak-proof HVAC system.
A quality HVAC company will be skilled and experienced with brazing and vacuum testing – and happy to describe their work to you.
And a final word on qualifying your HVAC company
As you’re doing your research on HVAC contractors and asking them the questions we’ve discussed today, here are two additional tips for you:
- Get three estimates. That way, you can gather enough information for a meaningful comparison among HVAC companies.
Depending on how each HVAC company conducts its estimates, the answers to your questions may be documented for you, or you may get answers simply in conversation. Take note of which companies willingly provide answers and friendly explanations and which don’t.
- If you own an older home – as many of our customers in Pittsburgh do – have a look at our recent post on replacing furnaces in older homes. When your home is older, a successful HVAC replacement depends on several factors besides the company you choose and the equipment you buy. Our post covers all these factors. Not only should you be aware of them, but any reputable HVAC company should be too.
At Kowalski Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing, we’re happy to be one of the three estimates that you gather for your HVAC system replacement. Our estimates are free and custom to your home. Give us a call at 724-745-7404, or text us at 412-952-5923. You can also contact us via our website at any time. We’ll come to you, and we’re excited to answer all your questions. We look forward to serving you!