Blog

7 Things You Should Ask Before Buying an Air Conditioner (Your Salesman Won’t Like These Questions)

Is it time to replace your air conditioner? Power bills high? Home starting to feel hot and sticky? Repair bills starting to add up? 

What do you do next? Call an air conditioning company and ask for a “free” estimate to replace it. How do you know who to trust? Aren’t all companies and all salespeople the same? 

In the Air Conditioning Business, the answer is a Great… Big …. NO

This is a list of things that will empower YOU to get the best possible installation on your air conditioner NOT necessarily the best price upfront. I know everyone tries to sell their own brand of special snake oil but in the air conditioning business it’s not just one thing that matters, it’s all the little things that add up to great comfort, healthy air, low bills and a system that lasts a long time. 

Before you go on you may ask, “why should I trust you and your little article” and the answer to that is that you definitely shouldn’t… Yet.

I could try to convince you by telling you that I have dedicated my career to improving the air conditioning industry. I could tell you that I created the premier online resource for training air conditioning technicians all over the world at HVACRSchool.com or that I write training articles for the largest air conditioning trade magazine in the USA.

While those things may be true, as an owner of Kalos Services I’m certainly not a neutral observer. So don’t take my word for this list.

Do your own research and see if it lines up, ask tough questions and I bet you are surprised at what you find. Truth be told, even at Kalos, even after 12 years of hard work, we don’t always get it perfect. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes personally over the years and I’m not going to pretend otherwise but we are COMMITTED to this list of items and doing them all to the best of our human ability every day. 

So here they are…

Ask About Proper System Sizing

Your air conditioner isn’t too small. It isn’t good business to tell you that, but it happens to be the truth.

There is no “rule of thumb” for sizing an air conditioner based on the square footage or the number of rooms. An air conditioner (and heater) is sized based on the internal and external heat losses and gains of the home. This is everything from walls, to windows, to doors and ceilings to how many people live in the house and how many showers you take. All of these things factor into how much heat enters and leaves the home for a given amount of time and calculating that amount of heat entering an leaving is required to size an air conditioner properly.

The heat is contained in the air and in the moisture in the air and we measure that heat using a unit of energy called a BTU (British Thermal Unit), 12,000 of these BTUs make up 1-ton of cooling per hour. The more BTUs of heat we let in the house the more them we need to pull out again with an air conditioner. The trouble is when we pull out BTUs we need to use energy to do that, it’s better when we can find ways to keep them out of the house in the first place through proper sealing, insulation, bath and kitchen ventilation, high-efficiency lighting etc…  

You may say “But Bryan, my unit just runs and runs all Summer and never get’s to the temperature I set so I need a bigger one” and I understand the sentiment. The first thing there is to understand that a unit SHOULD run and run on the hottest Summer days, that is actually how it is sized and is totally appropriate. An air conditioner is at it’s most efficient when it runs all day during the hottest days of the Summer and only starts to cycle off at night. Going on and off is a big energy waste for an air conditioner and also negatively impacts humidity removal from the home. 

There is something that can be done to get the house down to a more comfortable condition and that is to REDUCE the amount of heat coming into the home from outside and reduce the amount of heat and moisture being generated or trapped inside. These are things like replacing door sweeps, sealing attic penetrations, replacing unsealed can lights with sealed LED trims and increasing attic insulation as well as a lot of other little things. 

It also makes a big difference if the air conditioner is charged properly, properly maintained and commisioned with proper air flow and properly installed and sealed ductwork. Many homes are losing 20%+ of the cooling capacity due to damaged, poorly installed and leaky ducts. 

Once all of this is factored in VERY FEW homes need a larger A/C system but it all must be considered by a professional who looks over your entire home, performs a manual J heat load calculation and inspects your ducting as best as possible. 

Let the company who quotes you look over your home. Do they look at the windows? measure walls? look at attic insulation? check ducts? inspect lighting? if not, they probably aren’t REALLY confirming that your air conditioner is the correct size. 

Ask About Refrigerant Recovery 

Depending on your political and/or scientific views you may or may not care much about this one but the fact is that MANY technicians and air conditioning installers vent refrigerant (Freon) to the atmosphere when they replace systems or later on when they get them back to the shop. 

The EPA requires that all refrigerants be recovered and not vented into the atmosphere, because of this EVERY technician will tell you they do it whether they do or don’t. In order to properly recover then need to have an expensive recovery machine and tank that look something like the one shown above. If they don’t have them / use them they are almost certainly venting it to the environment.

 

Ask About Flowing Nitrogen

In air conditioning, the copper connecting lines are brazed (high-temperature soldering) together using torches. When copper is heated to the very high temperature required to make a proper joint any oxygen inside the tubing or fittings creates a black oxide scale that can (and does) contaminate an air conditioning system. In order to prevent these technicians need to use a special regulator to “flow” nitrogen at very low pressure and volume during brazing. In the past, many techs got away without doing this because older units used a type of oil that wouldn’t scrub this black scale off of the lines. Modern R410a units use a new oil that will scavenge this oxide off of the pipes resulting in damage to valves and even the compressor over time.  

If you want a good install ask them how they flow nitrogen while brazing.. (Hint: it should be just a whisper of flow, about 3-5 scfm) 

Ask About Evacuation 

Micron vacuum gauge and core tool

Evacuation is one of the MOST important and MOST overlooked aspects of an air conditioner install. Once the copper is joined the lines need to evacuated with a deep vacuum using a special pump called a vacuum pump and very sensitive vacuum gauge called a micron or vacuum gauge. This setup will take 10 minutes to 1 hr depending on the quality of their hose and adapter setup and is ESSENTIAL for removing air and moisture from inside the lines before the refrigerant (freon) is added

This should be done down to a level below 500 microns and then held there in a standing “decay test” for 10 – 15 minutes to confirm there are no leaks and all moisture has been extracted. To really test a salesperson or tech ask them how deep they pull a vacuum (should say 500 microns or less) and then ask them what they look for in a decay test. 

A system that isn’t evacuated properly won’t last NEARLY as long and you will never know why the compressor failed 5 years in. The contractor will just blame it on the manufacturer and may even believe what they are saying when all along it was improper evacuation. 

Ask About Ducts 

Duct installation with minimal leakage, kinks etc.. is a must and many older homes have issues that will impact comfort, efficiency and longevity if these duct issues aren’t addressed. 

It is also important that ducts are sized properly to deliver the correct amount of air to each room for proper cooling and heating. A full-service contractor will inspect ducts visually and with thermal imaging cameras, take measurements such as air flow CFM using an airflow hood and duct pressure measurements using a tool called a manometer or magnahelic gauge. If the person giving you a quote on a system doesn’t have test instruments how can know if the old ducts will work well on the new system? 

A great unit installed on bad ducts is like running a new car on bad gas, it won’t work well. 

On a side note, in Florida with the type of ducts, we have in houses I do not believe in the efficacy of duct cleaning for the reasons I give HERE. This means that ducts need to be kept clean through proper filtration and installation BEFORE they get dirty in the first place.

Ask About Commisioning

Once a unit is up and running it needs to be fully tested by a trained professional to set the refrigerant charge, test air flow, ensure that the heat and cooling is working, test the drain and check any dehumidification (humidity removal) features. It is incredible how often I see this step get missed and proper commisioning get passed over. Ask your installer to demonstrate all the features and leave you with or email you a copy of the detailed reading they took for superheat, subcooling, delta T and static pressure. The comfort and efficiency of the system depends on it.

Ask About the DETAILS of the Warranty

Many companies have long PARTS warranties but they don’t cover labor, warranty processing fees, diagnosis fees, late charges, refrigerant leakage etc.. You want to be crystal clear on what your contractor means when they say “warranty”.

In Closing

If you ask these questions and proper steps are taken to ensure a great installation, good air flow, proper load calculation with heat gains reduced etc… you will have a much better experience and should get a long life out of the system. 

While this is only the tip of the iceberg I hope this helps you get great install on a new air conditioner. If you want to know more about us, healthy indoor air, what a good air conditioning maintenance should include or anything else just call us up at 352-243-7088 or shoot us an email at office@kalosflorida.com

and if at any point we don’t live up to your standards give me a call on my cell at 352-536-5718 and I will make it right.

Stay Cool,

Bryan Orr

 

 

 

 

Fall 2017 Cool Cash Promotion

Every year our customer’s ask us “When is the best time to buy a new AC unit?”. Of course, when you’re dealing with the Central Florida heat and have a broken AC, the best time to buy is right away.

As with anything, if you’re able to think proactively and get ahead of the curve you will reap the blessings of getting that high efficiency AC system for a great deal.

It’s that time of year, and Carrier’s Fall 2017 Cool Cash Promotion is in full swing. Now through November 30th 2017, the Cool Cash Promotion can save you hundreds of dollars on a new high efficiency AC unit. These systems use the latest in variable speed technology to give you superior temperature and humidity control, and will save you lots of money on your monthly power bill.

Check out our chart below to see which units qualify for these AC Unit Rebates:

Unit Category Model Class Thermostat Rebate
Carrier Infinity Heat Pump 25VNA0 Infinity Thermostat $1,350.00
Carrier Infinity Heat Pump 25VNA8 Infinity Thermostat $1,250.00
Carrier Performance Heat Pump 25HCB6 Cor Thermostat $350.00
Carrier Comfort Heat Pump 25HBC5 Cor Thermostat $150.00

 

Give us a call or fill out the form below for a free estimate on how much one of these AC units will save you on your power bill and the installation costs for the new ac unit. (and if you’ve recently replaced your AC unit, give us a call to ask about how you can earn credit for new customer referrals!) 

  • OK to pick more than one (Hold Ctrl + Click)
  • Drop files here or
    If you want us to see any photos or previous quotes upload them here.

Ductless A/C – Heat Winter Promotion

p2-1024x768 (1)

While Kalos Marketing Director Jude may only be a few years old, he already knows the value of a Mitsubishi ductless system. Jude was overhead saying “My parents have one of those in their bedroom, and it keeps the temperatures and humidity spot on all year round” he then exclaimed “If you have a lanai or sunroom, a high efficiency ductless system is the best way to get it cool quick in the Summer and keep it comfortable even on those rare cold mornings”

So Jude had a thought…. and he came up with this great offer

relax

This is a great combination! A ductless system to keep you comfortable, a UV light to help keep the air clean, and a surge suppressor to keep mother nature from breaking your stuff!

Jude doesn’t like rules so he only settled on a few.

#1 – You must have the free estimate done by January 1, 2017
#2 – The system must be installed by March 1, 2017
#3 – This offer cannot be combined with others… but if you ask nice… we probably will anyway
#4 – You must fill out the form below to be eligible
#5 – The location of service must be within our service area

Ductless Offer

 

 

Things To Check Before Calling A Professional

After calling a Professional, You don’t want to ask Youself: “Could I have fixed that?”

There’s very few things that feel as bad as calling in a professional having them flip and switch and charge you. You’re both out money and can feel embarrassed, or in a professional situation and have a difficult time justifying this cost to whomever you report to. Usually this can be prevented in a few easy steps.

Electrical

#1 Check Your Breakers: Breakers can trip for a variety of reason some of which may be a one time instance and not a point of concern. Before calling a professional I would recommend locating and resetting any tripped breakers, bearing in mind that there will typically be an inside panel as well as one outside by the meter. If the breaker immediately or consistently trips you still may want to take one more step before contacting a professional. In the effected area unplug everything and turn all switches off then reset breaker. If they hold, try plugging in items one at a time, then flip switches back on one at a time. If the problem persists or the breaker trips with something you cannot just unplug, it’s time to call a pro.

#2 GFCI’s: A GFI’s primary function is to simply check for any voltage imbalance so it is pretty normal for these to trip intermittently. Unless they are tripping more frequently than once a week it is usually not a necessity to repair. GFCI’s will be installed for all bathroom, kitchen, garage, and outdoor outlets will be on a GFI. Keep in mind that one outlet can run up to 10 protected outlets. so if you have an outlet not working in one of these locations, check and reset all GFI’s in the house before calling an electrician.

 

Air Conditioning

#1 Frozen AC system: An AC will freeze for three reasons: low temperature, low indoor air flow, or low refrigerant. If you have a frozen AC make sure of two things before calling someone; Make sure there the filter in the unit isn’t dirty, and make sure the thermostat is not set below 72°F. If you suspect either a dirty filter or low set-point were the cause set the system to off and fan to on for 3 hours then restart the system and it may resume normal operation.

#2 Backed up drain. Your AC will condensate up to 2 gallons of water an hour. This will run from the indoor unit and drain outside usually via a 3/4″ PVC pipe. If sediment plugs up this pipe it will either back up into the house causing a mess or newer AC units will have an overflow shut off or “float” switch. If you have a blank thermostat or a system doing nothing you should first check this “float” switch for water. If this is full, empty it. Hook a shop vac to the outlet outside, pull the sediment out, refill the drain trap and reinstall the float switch and test the system.

 

#3 Tripped breaker, See above for testing a tripped breaker.

#4 Thermostat batteries, if the thermostat is blank make sure the batteries are not dead.

Water Heater

#1: Pilot light is out: On gas water heaters if there has ever been a interruption in gas service to the property, (even briefly) the pilot will need to be relit. Follow the instructions on the heater to do this.

#2: Tripped breaker: While typically a tripped breaker is a sign that one of the electric elements is shorted, it is not a bad idea to try resetting it and see if the problem still occurs.

#3: Tripped high limit: All electric water heaters will have a high temperature cutout safety on the upper thermostat. Should this trip repeatedly than there is a problem (if however you only have to occasionally reset it, it may not be worth repairing). This safety reset is a red circular button behind the upper access panel on the side of the heater.

Pool Heater

#1: Make sure the pool pump is running and that it does not have a very dirty filter.

#2: Make sure all water is flowing through the heater and that there aren’t any valves diverting water away from the heater.

#3: Check to make sure all breakers are on.

#4: If there is cold air blowing out of the top of a heat-pump heater, it is operating correctly and may just not be at optimal temperature yet. This doesn’t necessarily mean its running at full capacity but would mean it is at least somewhat heating.

#5: Make sure the gas valve is on.

 

Powered by WP Buffs. Virtual high five!