Home Heating and Cooling Equipment: Proper HVAC Installation Matters

Why HVAC installation matters

What do fence posts and batteries have in common?  They must be installed correctly, or they won’t work as intended. Proper installation matters and there are 1000’s of possible examples! This is especially true of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (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

 

A proper installation of your heating or cooling equipment will 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% 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!


Choosing an Experienced HVAC Dealer

 

HVAC installation is not a home “DIY” project. Creating a comfortable indoor temperature is a delicate balancing act between equipment, air flow, and mechanics. Finding a qualified, licensed and professional 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 may be difficult. How can you check the expertise of an HVAC technician?

A homeowner should spend some time researching and selecting the right local HVAC dealer. A quality HVAC installation can pay off for years to come. Homeowners should consider researching their dealer’s:

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

Although residential HVAC licensing requirements vary by state, licensing can provide proof of professional training. However, licensing may not reflect expertise. If you have driven with a 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.  Homeowner Tips for Selecting a Heating & 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.


Ongoing HVAC Training and Certifications

 

Home comfort equipment, like your heating and cooling system, is continually advancing. HVAC technicians should have training and experience with the latest technology and high-efficiency products. Technicians can earn independent and manufacturer-based certifications as a way to increase their HVAC installation knowledge and confirm their understanding of these advancing systems. Homeowners may have a greater peace of mind during installation if their technician has received advanced industry training or earned a specific certification.

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

According to a 2016 NATE press release, NATE Certification Affirms Contracting Competency, “certification offers a seal of approval that the individual doing the work is qualified, educated, and knowledgeable.”

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