5 Biggest Mistakes HVAC Contractors Make

Hey – we make mistakes, we’re human, right? Well, the HVAC industry is no exception. Comprised of humans like us, sometimes HVAC contractors tend to have a few hiccups, but there are some major ones you should look out for when hiring an HVAC contractor.

5 Mistakes Made by HVAC Contractors

In the article written by Energy Vanguard’s Allison Bailes, they cover some of the top snafus made by heating and air conditioning techs and we’re going to go through the top five today. While not all HVAC contractors make these mistakes (ahem – KCS Heating and Air), a lot do so it’s important to keep a homeowner lookout on these common mistakes.

Combustion Safety

A lot of the time when HVAC contractors get calls about carbon monoxide, they immediately check the furnace for cracks and if nothing is found, chock it up to a false alarm, replace the carbon monoxide detector batteries and go on their merry way; however, this has the propensity to leave the homeowners in a dangerous situation if it truly wasn’t a false alarm. “The problem is that most HVAC contractors don’t know much about backdrafting of combustion appliances. Nor do they test for it.”

As an HVAC contractor, they should be testing for gases and depressurization when it comes to responding to carbon monoxide calls. HVAC professionals should take these precautions lest they are met with a phone call the next day at the homeowners are in the hospital suffering from CO2 poisoning.

Ignoring Air Flow

When it comes to HVAC, airflow is everything but it’s also really not understood well by most HVAC contractors. Ductwork is often the wrong size for the home leaving inefficiencies and leaks. If HVAC contractors truly understood airflow, most ductwork systems would be much larger than they are.

“Mike MacFarland of Energy Docs, an HVAC contractor in California, told me last year at Building Science Summer Camp that he pretty much never does a system changeout without also doing a duct changeout. Why? Because he knows that the existing ductwork, even if it’s relatively new, probably wasn’t sized right, is too leaky, and would lead to more trouble and expense than just starting over.“

Ignoring Home Performance

HVAC contractors find themselves in crevasses, crawl spaces, and attics of homes yet fail to advise the homeowner on possible performance upgrades like insulation and air sealing, yet often it’s never mentioned to the homeowner. In the world of “home comfort,” it seems like a lot of heating and air conditioning contractors forget the latter word, even though it would benefit not only their business but the living conditions of those in the home.

HAC – Forget the V

Often in the wild world of home comfort, we focus on heating and air conditioning, but ventilation finds a backseat to furnaces and AC units. With new construction codes requiring homes to be built tighter than ever, ventilation is nearly a requirement of all HVAC professionals in order to correctly move air throughout the space. From measuring air flow to negative and positive pressure, and pressure balance, if your HVAC contractor doesn’t understand ventilation, you need a new contractor stat.

HVAC Math Problems cause Problems

Not understanding HVAC math can equal big problems for homeowners. With the constantly changing technology in the HVAC world, “the way things were” mentality has got to go. HVAC systems are so different now and as such, the math and mentality towards them must also change. Calculating heat loss and gain vary depending on the system, the home size, and other things. “HVAC systems are complex technology. If you’re relying on rules of thumb or doing things the way you’ve always done them, then you’re not serving your customers well.”

When it comes to the world of HVAC, mistakes can happen, but the ones listed above are more than just simple mistakes, their incorrectly understanding the HVAC world as it is today. When selecting your HVAC contractor, it’s important to keep an eye out for these common mistakes and choose a contractor who you feel comfortable in making your home comfortable.

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