Are you facing issues with your air conditioner that require professional intervention? If so, you might be ready to call a contractor to set up an appointment.
Once that appointment is set up, there are a few ways to prepare for your appointment with an HVAC provider.
Take Note of Any Issues for Your Technician
As your technician enters your home for the diagnostic appointment, there are certain items you can have prepared for your technician.
- Have you experienced any odd sounds or smells?
- What is the issue with your air conditioner?
- How long has the problem been occurring?
This will ensure that you don’t forget any of your concerns when your HVAC technician arrives. On that day, your AC might not make that strange whirring sound, or the smell may not be as noticeable, so prepare to take note and share those concerns. In addition, making a note will ensure that your technician is aware of any problem that may be facing your unit, further ensuring that they address each of your concerns.
Make Sure the Area Around Your AC Unit is Clear
If you can, clear the surrounding area. This doesn’t mean the room has to be spotless, but taking the time to move boxes or storage out of the way will ensure as quick of a procedure as possible!
Remember Your Appointment Time
Make a note of the day and time of your service appointment. There’s nothing worse than getting a call from the technician while you’re in the middle of running your errands. Remember the exact day and time your technician is expected to arrive.
Even before you have a technician out to your home, there are specific questions you should ask before your service.
Before Your Appointment, Ask Your HVAC Contractor Questions
Before your service appointment, there are particular questions you should ask your contractor to make sure you’ve hired the right person for the job. You should make sure they have the following before setting foot inside your home:
- A state HVAC license
- Continuing education for employees
- Digital gauges and testing
- Proper certifications
- Proper Permits
State HVAC License
Pulling a permit is the phrase used to describe the process of obtaining local or state permits that authorize work on an HVAC project. A state license means that a company member has met all requirements in experience and training levels within that state to pull permits and provide HVAC services for a cost to customers.
The process of earning a State HVAC license is selective and lengthy. A minimum of 5 years of experience with a licensed company is required before you can even apply for the 10-hour state test.
To pass the state test, you are required to know:
- All local and state building/mechanical codes
- Fuel codes (natural gas, liquid petroleum, fuel oil)
- Manual J heat gain/loss load calculations for a building
- Service and installation methods
- Electrical wiring and circuits
- Safety in all areas related to HVAC
After the test, the license holder must do at least 10 hours of continuing education training every year. When renewing, they must also keep a good citizen standing with no felonies or criminal records annually.
In most states, a permit must be pulled when any HVAC work is being performed. This is a requirement. A company that installs based on industry standards, local codes, and manufacturer specifications will always pull a permit. The permit ensures the equipment is installed safely according to all codes and manufacturer specifications. This is a protection for the customer as well as the installation company.
You are taking a massive risk if you hire any company unwilling to pull a permit or even suggest that not pulling a permit is okay. This could indicate poor installation practices, unsafe procedures, and untrustworthiness.
Continuing Education For Employees
Considering the information above, hiring a company that keeps educating employees is incredibly important and can make sure they understand current standards.
The evolution of HVAC equipment by all manufacturers industry-wide is ever-changing. With the constant advancements in technology and efficiencies of newer equipment, you will be lost without a training program to keep up. Certifications can help, but there are a lot of differences between equipment types. A mentality of ongoing education is important.
Each year there are technological advancements in HVAC as a whole. A system installed 15 years ago would have had a very different installation process than one going in today. Recent innovations include increased units' efficiency, the ability to communicate or “talk” between your air conditioner, furnace, and thermostat, enhanced options for variable-speed compressors and motors, and digital technology that links your system to your phone or tablet.
Digital Gauges and Equipment
Air conditioning and furnace installation and servicing are very technical and specific. You can expect to get 20 years out of your home’s system when you have proper maintenance. However, when this maintenance is completed incorrectly, you may not get that much of a lifespan out of your system. You deserve to get over 20 years out of your system.
Air conditioning is a process of moving a chemical (refrigerant) to a coil inside the home, then back to a coil outside the home.
Along the way, it must change forms a few times. It changes states from a liquid to a gas, then back again. At different stages, it has pressures that range from about 100 pounds per square inch (PSI) to 500 PSI.
While this is happening, a fan on the inside (the furnace blower) and a fan on the outside pull or blow air across a coil that the refrigerant is traveling through.
The quantity of the air that is forced across these coils helps the refrigerant in the coils to change state and pressure. Ultimately, the movement of air and changing state of refrigerant allows the “heat” from the inside to be transferred outside, leaving the remaining air delivered inside the home to be “cool.”
At the time of installation, the copper lines the refrigerant flows through must be prepared before any refrigerant can be introduced. This requires brazing with nitrogen flowing through the system to keep the system free of contaminants caused by brazing.
Once welded, the lines must be tested at 150 PSI for leaks. Using test pressures exceeding 150 PSI will damage the compressor.
Once there are no leaks, the lines must be vacuumed down to 500 microns with a special pump and a digital micron gauge. Failure to pull a vacuum on the lines before introducing refrigerant will cause failure in the compressor. For your air conditioning system to operate over 600,000 times in the expected lifespan of the air conditioner, these processes must be followed.
Having the correct testing, setup, and installation equipment will make installation near perfect. Accuracy is key.
Do Not Let Someone in Your Home Without Certifications
Certifications in HVAC are of the utmost importance. You wouldn’t hire someone for a job without proper qualifications, and you should think of your HVAC repair in a similar way. One of the best certifications for HVAC is N.A.T.E. which stands for North American Training Excellence. This is the ONLY accepted individual certification for HVAC technicians and installers.
The certification is broken up into four categories for service and installation. In addition to service and installation techniques for equipment, it includes “core” topics such as customer etiquette, electrical circuits, and safety procedures that must be learned before you can pass the service and installation portions of the test.
The certification program also requires 16 credit hours of continuing education every two years.
Ensuring that your HVAC installation technician is N.A.T.E. certified is essential.
All of the above are essential concepts to keep in mind, but you can also use our contractor checklist to help you narrow down HVAC providers.
Proper Permits are Essential to Any HVAC Job
Lastly, the company you hire should always pull the proper permits for the job they are completing in your home. Do not hire any company or contractor who suggests otherwise or says that these are not needed. Without these, do not allow a contractor to complete a job inside your home. If they do, they might not be willing to face inspection or are not licensed and are afraid of getting caught. This can have major legal repercussions for you and your family and compromise your safety.
Don’t be afraid to ask any prospective contractor whether they pull permits and whether or not the permit cost is included in your overall installation cost. If they cannot provide a clear answer, do not hire them.
Next Steps to Ensuring Your Air Conditioner’s Longevity
At Fire & Ice, we understand having a contractor inside your home can be complicated. If you’re ready to take the next step with your air conditioner and live in the Columbus, Ohio, area, check to see if you’re in our service area by using the zip code map below.
For a free estimate with one of our sales representatives, use the button below.