HVAC Installation Experience Matters



HVAC Installation Experience Matters

How Important is Installation?

 

Your TV remote control won’t work if the batteries are not aligned correctly, and your fence may fall over if the posts aren’t deep enough. Proper installation matters!

 

There are 1000’s of possible examples! If something isn’t installed correctly, it won’t work as it should. This is especially true of heating, ventilation, and air condition (HVAC) equipment. HVAC installation is much more complicated than installing batteries or digging a hole.  So, it’s important to make sure your local HVAC technician is experienced, qualified, and backs their work.

 

Energy-Efficient HVAC


If you install a high-efficiency system, the installation can help deliver the efficiency rating you expect. A National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) study says that if your high-efficiency equipment is installed improperly, it may not be running as efficient as you think!1  “Without proper installation, air conditioning and heating equipment will perform significantly below rated energy-efficiency levels,” says Piotr Domanski, who leads NIST research on the performance of HVAC and refrigeration equipment.  “Our measurements indicate that improper installation could increase household energy use for space heating and cooling on the order of 30 percent over what it should be."2  Homeowners must be sure they hire trained, qualified, and installation-experienced HVAC technicians.  But this isn’t always as easy as it sounds!

Dealers, Technicians and Contractors, Oh My!


For most homeowners, HVAC installation is not a “DIY” project. Creating comfortable indoor temperatures is a balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Therefore, finding a qualified HVAC installer is crucial to a quality installation. But with so many companies, technicians, and contractors to choose from, finding the right person for the job can be difficult. How can you check high-efficiency equipment expertise of an HVAC technician?

Spending time choosing the right dealer can pay off in the end. Homeowners should consider researching their dealer’s:

  • Qualifications
  • Technical certifications and training
  • Industry associations
  • Availability - What days/times are they available?
  • Labor limited warranty options

You may find the most qualified technician in your area, but what happens if they don’t work weekends.  This can cause problems if a repair or maintenance is needed after installation!  If you can’t get in touch with your technician, you may be forced to wait for repairs. Hiring the wrong technician for installation can cost you time or more fees.

Although residential HVAC licensing requirements vary by state, licensing can provide proof of professional training.  However, a license may not reflect actual installation expertise. If you have been or know a new teenage driver, you may understand the value of experience!

You may want to consider getting HVAC technician recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors.  Be sure these recommendations are for the same type of HVAC work that you need to be completed.  “How to Select a Heating and Cooling Contractor” highlights some suggested evaluation tactics.

There is a better chance that a dealer understands the high-efficiency installation process, manufacturer’s products, proven best-practices and possible site-specific challenges if they have both training and real-world experience.

HVAC Certifications


Bad reviews, excessive return trips, and unhappy customers are not good HVAC business practices! Dealers’ technicians must continually learn about the latest technology and high-efficiency products. Technicians can earn independent and manufacturer-based certifications as a way to increase their HVAC knowledge and confirm their understanding.  Homeowners may have a greater peace of mind during installation if their technician has been approved or recognized in the process.
Some HVAC industry certifications include:

  • NATE: The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for HVAC technicians. The organization develops and tests real world industry knowledge. Candidates can earn installation and service certifications in multiple specialty areas.3
  • HVAC Excellence Certification:  The mission of the HVAC Excellence certification program is to improve skills by testing the technical education process. The Esco Group provides many types of certifications for technicians at all levels in their career, from Employment Ready Certifications to Professional Technician and Master Specialist Certifications.
  • EPA Certification:  All technicians who maintain, service, repair or dispose of appliances that contain regulated refrigerants, including air condition coolants such as R-22 or R-410A, must be certified in proper refrigerant handling techniques. HVAC technicians cannot buy refrigerants without the appropriate EPA Certification.

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1, 2 Domanski, P. A., Henderson, H. I., & Payne, W. V. (October 2014). Sensitivity Analysis of Installation Faults on Heat Pump Performance. Retrieved from http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/TechnicalNotes/NIST.TN.1848.pdf
3 NATE. (n.d.). Retrieved from North American Technician Excellence: http://www.natex.org/site/1/Home