Advice on buying HVAC system

Page 1 of 2  
We will be building a new house in the next 3 months or so and I need to pick out an HVAC system for heating, cooling, and humidity control.
I would like some direction as to the best places to read-up and get educated on what to look for and what to look out for in choosing system type, brand, contractor, etc.
Many thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 29 Jan 2005 17:15:00 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Do so carefully. There are a lot of HVAC systems installed improperly. Established companies are a plus. Installers with 10+ years of experience are a plus. Payment only after the job is done is good. Bonded and insured is important. Proper sizing. Some contractors leave in the middle of a job, skip town. Make a list, interview possible contractors, use the Yellow Pages, talk with neighbors.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
do not get ductwork with the insulation inside. Impossible to clean. A mold trap.
wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Do a google : 'Buying heating/cooling systems' . Talk with your neighbors on who theyre happy with. When you get proposals, be sure and get them to provide addresses and phone numbers of customers that have had an installation performed then take a look at the job . Check with your local BBB to be sure they havent had any complaints filed against them. Go to your local courthouse and see if they have been a Defendant in a Law Suit ; the clerk will give you the books to look thru at no charge (in alphabetical order) . Dont give them anymore than 50% deposit. Go to Consumer Reports Oct. of 1998 for a 4 page article on different efficiency residental systems , how brands stack up, and how to choose a Contractor. Go to your local Village Building Dept. and ask if there are any hvac Contractors which they have banned from working in your town. Take out a Permit for the installation so the job can be properly inspected by a Village Inspector who will act on your best behalf ; the Permit fee will be worth it to give you peace of mind.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
DANGER DANGER WILL ROBINSON.. HACK ALERT..dave's giving out advice again
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I would stay away from Carrier. My neighbor got one last summer and has had nothing but trouble.
Check out Better Business Bureau site-there seemed to be a lot of negatives about Carrier.
Too bad. They used to be a really good unit.
I think Trane is a pretty good unit, but I'm sure there are others just as good, or maybe better.
We will be building a new house in the next 3 months or so and I need to pick out an HVAC system for heating, cooling, and humidity control.
I would like some direction as to the best places to read-up and get educated on what to look for and what to look out for in choosing system type, brand, contractor, etc.
Many thanks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

My advice is simple. Find a good local contractor and let them make the decisions. A good contractor will not provide second rate equipment, will not undersize or over size, but they will choose the right type of equipment for your specific needs. They will measure and compute all the needed information to design the distribution system and offer you choices to tailor the job to you. They have lots of knowledge and experience that you are not going to have. You only need to convey what you want to them.
Check with your friends and neighbors and ask if they have any recommendations or experiences they care to share.
--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Isn't that like asking the fox to recommend a type of lock to use for the hen house doors?
I only ask because I too will be making a choice this summer. I have no central heating system in my house and after the winter is over and I can think clearly, I will have a system installed in my house. No way can I see letting the guy who is going to earn money from the job make the decisions about what I should or shouldn't have. That is just a blatant conflict of interest! The original poster asked the same question I'm asking now--isn't there some industry standard information sources that a person can read to learn about each choice and make their own decision--at least about what TYPE of system to put in (i.e., baseboard, radiant, forced air, etc.).??
Lesley
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lesley wrote:

I can only say that it is going to be very difficult to equal the skill of at good professional. A good professional will give you what you want and need. On the other hand, even if you pick some very nice equipment out, maybe even the right equipment for your needs, you are going to end up with a second rate un-reliable system if it is not properly installed.
As I said a good pro will only sell you good equipment.
The trick, and it is a trick, is to find that good professional. They are there. I have one I trust, I only hope he is still around in a few more years when it is time to replace my current system. I found him on a small issue that I called him in, when my AC will killed by lightning. His knowledge and his response, saving me money without costing me in quality proved him to me.
--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The difficult part is to find a good HVAC contractor. When we asked contractors about setting central cooling in my house, we got many different advices, and we were not in the position to know which one was the right one. The same thing happened when we ask contractors to fix the roof in my house. We got confused. Hopefully, there is a good trick to tell which one is good.
There must be a good way to tell. I believe each trade has a way to locate a good contractor. For example, if someone wants to look for a doctor, one good way is to ask the nurse. Nurses know _exactly_ which doctors are good and which ones to avoid. I assume that there must be a similar trick in HVAC industry to locate a good contractor. I really doubt that asking our friends or neighbors will be any help because they probably know even less. This is just like this is not a good idea to ask a patient to recommend a doctor. A patient will rate how the doctor "talks" more than anything; hence, he will always give a good rating to a doctor who is probably more like a salesman than a doctor.
Jay Chan
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ask your neighbors, friends, and relatives. They'd give you advice on who to choose, and NOT to choose. What their experience has been, etc. Besides, people love to give recommendations, good or bad.
--
Zyp

< snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com> wrote in message
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Some have suggested asking the parts counter people at the local supply store..
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 10:47:53 -0800, "Zyp"

Good question ... Both my sons are HVAC "pros" ...Both are employees...not owners.. and both have about 10 years experience not alot but enough. to know how to be dangerious...
Ask ...LOCAL frineds, for sure...BUT also ask some local business people...like your Physiciam, your lawyer, your Gas Station owner...etc... these people need HVAC service ... No way your Doctor is going to have office visits if his A/C is shut down for a week in August..
That said... The boys have told me many many times that the Brand of the installed unit is not really the important thing... IT is the installer...and the guy who comes out to your house and does the calculations (Manuel J)... PLUS how they actually do the installation...
The failure rate of brand "A" is at best, only slightly better then Brand "B" at best.... They do not like Trane however and I can not remember exactly why...
Anyway they each have quit jobs because they had to do fast, and dirty, installations not given enough time to do it right so corners HAD and were cut..Took them a few years to find an employer who paid well and insisted on good solid work...most paid well but lost all interest in the customer even before the installation was done..before they got paid...
Duct Tape is a wonderful tool...yea sure....
Bob Griffiths
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not for ducts however.
I hear superglue is the tool of choice for gas furnace sensors though.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Learn, learn, learn.
If you want to increase your odds, you need to become knowledgable THEN trust the guys to do their job. Use the knowledge to filter out the hacks. Talk to friends and neighbors and check out their installations.
I've not seen centralized references that summarize everything in a tidy format for you. There are numerous options, each with their relative benefits, costs, etc. You need to know enough to have a starting point and find the right specialist. Do you want radiant heat, hot water baseboard, forced air, ...? Do you want oil, gas, solar, electric, geothermal...?
There aren't many shortcuts. You will have to invest many, many hours studying the pros/cons of each system type. It's analagous to buying a vehicle. If you knew nothing about modes of transportation, then walked into a Hummer dealer, they'd sell you on the virtues of a Hummer. First, you have to know the options. Do you want an SUV, pick-up, sedan, sports car, Motorcycle, bicycle, 2 seater, 2WD, 4WD, etc.??? Would you find a website that could tell you the relative merits of all these different vehicles?
I'm not trying to be a wise-a**. But the onus is on the consumers to educate themselves. It takes time, but it's worth it.
The options narrow down quickly once you study them. Your home or budget may not support certain choices. Soon, you're left with a few choices and have enough education to ask the pros specific questions. Then, you can get the contractors to come out and give you their opinions and get quotations. Without the up-front footwork on your part, you'll be wasting their time or just blindly trusting them to tell you what's best.
As other posters have suggested, you'll not be as knowledgable as the pros. But you'll have a starting point and you will be able to see who is blowing smoke, giving you a better chance of avoiding the obvious attempts to rip you off.
Warning - do not post questions to alt.hvac. That's a "pro's only" forum. Stick to groups like this one where there are plenty of other consumers and pros who are willing to help. But always, spend some time with Google before asking questions or you're likely to get snarky replies.
Good luck.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I highly recommend perusing some of those message to get an idea how "pros" really behave.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

As a long established HVAC contractor I can tell you that you need to find a "good" company and then trust them. Personally, I think most all of the equipment out there is crap. All the manufacturers suffer the same problem. Get a product out there and build it as inexpensively as you can. Sometimes, quality of that product suffers. Like I say, find a good company. Check with friends, neighbors, co workers and anyone you come in contact with. Even call the local Bryant, American Standard, etc warehouses and talk to the guys at the counter. They are the ones that know most of us and they are also the ones that know which companies to use and which ones to steer clear of. Id have to recommend getting a 10 yr parts and labor warranty too because no matter what you get installed it will break over the next ten years and it WILL pay for itself. Note: Personally, I dont have much faith in the Better Business Bureau. Companies like myself can pay them to be a "Preferred Vendor" with them. I think that is bullshit. I worked for a company for a couple years that did just that. They were the worst pack of thieves and the BBB rated them highly. Utter nonsense. Good Luck, Bubba
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bubba wrote:

Yeah. How could an HVAC professional (who deals with heating systems every day) possibly know more than the customer(who deals with heating systems once every 5 to 20 years)?

Most customers don't want quality. They want cheap. Seems people would rather pay $500.00 every 5 years on a throw away system made from beer cans, than $1000.00 every 20 years on a well engineered, well built system. Cheap is what keeps bad companies and hacks in business. The original poster has the right idea. Learn as much as you can buuuuuuut, never discount the knowledge of an experienced professional. Cheaper is NOT always better. Choose the wrong system in your house and you WILL pay for it in other ways. And Bubba is right. The BBB is not a reliable tool.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Bubba,
The problem is finding that "good" company. Part of doing that is knowing enough about the subject so that when I am talking to the incompetent or the crook, I can recognize him for what he is.
I like to buy quality. Many years ago, I got 3 prices on a major HVAC job and selected the highest price because that contractor was able to convince me that he knew what he was doing and that I needed the more costly duct design that he proposed. I was never sorry about that choice. Of course, I want to save as much money as I sensibly can, but buying junk equipment or hiring a "junk" contractor is not sensible.

In a later post you talked about Lennox equipment. Are there others you think I should steer clear of or consider favorably because of quality, serviceability/cost, performance, etc?
I live in Southeastern VA (near the bay) and desire year around humidity control, expecially during those months when little to no heat or airconditioning is required.

contacts.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 31 Jan 2005 00:28:10 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Just the same as finding a good doctor, teacher, car mechanic and painter. We arent all crooks.

Equipment selection can be a personal choice. Dealers may get spiffs or trip points for selling only Carrier or Bryant (or whatever) equipment. I dont like Lennox because of their attitude and how all there parts seem to cost double of everyone else's. That can be just an opinion though. Try to steer away from equipment that seems to get put in mobile homes. It belongs there..........not in houses. Bubba

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.