My 5 ton split system heat pump is in need of another $350 repair this
summer to replace the defrost board on the condenser. I'm willing to
spend the money, but the system is twenty years old, and the evaporator
coils on the air handler are rusty and may not last another year. On top
of that, the current system is a 10 SEER and was installed in a way that
virtually everybody thinks is stupid because the condenser is a good 50
feet from the air handler, and there's probably 75 feet of run line
So I'm thinking about replacing it with something all new that's more
efficient. I know that the skill and intelligence of the installer are
the most important qualities in determining how well an HVAC system will
work, and how reliable it'll be. I'd like some advice in choosing a
contractor that will do a good job.
That said, when my compressor blew out last summer, I stupidly paid $2500
to replace just the compressor, instead of biting the bullet then and
replacing the whole system. The contractor who did the work offered a 10%
discount on that work if I signed up for a $130 annual maintenance
agreement (including two checkups), so I signed up and saved more than the
cost of the agreement on that repair. The contractor seems okay, but I
have to confess, I don't know how to tell. It took them four trips to
finally figure out the reason my AC didn't run at night was because the
defrost board was bad.
At any rate, my contract gives me a 10% discount off new purchases, too,
so I'm thinking about using them for the new system if I can figure out if
they're any good. Yesterday, a sales guy came out to our house and ran
the numbers for some estimates. I got the fax this morning, and he's
proposing Lennox, Bryant, Goodman and Trane systems, with prices ranging
from just over $5k for a 13 SEER Bryant to just over $12k for a 15.9 SEER
Trane. I'm getting estimates from other contractors, too, but I don't
know if they're any good, either.
The guy who came out yesterday said that our current run line is too small
in diameter and needs to be replaced if we want anything more efficient
than 13 SEER. In addition, because the condenser is so far from the air
handler, he's recommending moving the condenser closer to the air handler.
So, I know I'm coming here late, given that I've already got one set of
estimates, but I have two questions:
First, how do I tell a good contractor from a yahoo? Is it possible to
get a bad installer from an otherwise good contractor? Are there any
contractors I should consider or avoid in Mesa, AZ? My wife is the one
who's meeting the estimators at our house, and I don't know if she can
tell how they're arriving at their numbers.
Second, assuming I found a good contractor and the quality of the
installation wasn't an issue, how does a Bryant 16 SEER at just under $7k
compare to the much more expensive Trane and Lennox models? Are Trane and
Lennox worth that much more? I've gotten the distinct impression from
stuff I've read here that many people here consider Goodman to be junk,
but that they'd take a well-installed Goodman over a poorly-installed
[insert name of favorite brand here] any day.
BTW: I believe the Lennox and Trane estimates involve new run line, but
I'm not sure the Bryant or Goodman quotes do.
You lookin at me?