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My AC is Dead – Now What?

I think the title of this blog post is one of the scariest things that a homeowner can have the displeasure of hearing, especially here in South Florida on an 87-degree day. The first thing I believe that happens after the unit is pronounced deceased is the typical person starts seeing dollar signs going up in smoke. Outside of possibly your roof or a major remodeling project, the air conditioner is one of the most expensive investments we are all faced with. So, today I want to spend a little time on what you, my intrepid homeowner, should consider when faced with the daunting task of purchasing a new HVAC system.

First and foremost, the brand name of the unit does not really matter that much, we are long past the days where the quality of the different brands vary greatly. I have had the pleasure of doing factory tours with many of the major manufacturers and the old phrase, “you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all”, is the first thing that comes to mind. The manufacturing processes are all pretty much the same as are the quality controls each manufacturer utilizes.

Ok, the first things to look for are the features the new system comes with. The SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) is one of the biggest features when considering your new system. Ratings range from a minimum of 14, depending on the size of the unit, to as high as 25. The higher the SEER rating the less electricity the unit will use, and each SEER point increase equates to around $150 per year in electrical savings.

Next up, is the type of indoor fan motor that will be installed with your new system. In your lower rated SEER equipment you will have a constant torque fan motor, which means it has one speed which is “on”. The higher rated equipment will have a variable speed fan motor, which not only saves money but does a better job dehumidifying the space as the air is moving just a little bit slower. The outdoor unit can also be single speed, dual speed, and in some manufacturers all the way up to 700 speeds, which in my humble opinion, is a bit on the side of overkill. The company you are working with to choose your new system should spend time explaining these options to you. Beware the company that comes in and gives you one price in about a 10-minute period of time without explaining options to you.

Also, when considering which unit you are going with, make sure the contractor checks the condition of the ductwork and the insulation levels in your attic. Ductwork and insulation are to an air conditioner what tires are to a car. Even the best air conditioner on the planet won’t properly cool your castle if there are issues with the ducts.

What is the labor warranty is the next question to ask before signing up. Again, the manufacturer’s warranties are all the same at 10 years on the major components and the labor warranty is what matters. If your compressor happens to go bad when the system is 2.6 years old and you had a one year labor warranty you are looking at several hundred dollars in labor to replace that compressor.

I am in no way covering every detail that you need to consider when you need that new system in today’s diatribe, but merely hitting briefly on the big ones. Again, a true HVAC professional will go over all this and more, so you can make the best possible decision for your new HVAC system. Remember, the choice you make is going to impact the next 15 or so years of your life, so choose wisely.

Until we meet again my friends, I wonder how spies know when they run out of invisible ink?

House Whisperer out!!

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