Don't let your contractor do a bad install. Many customers unknowingly pay for a bad install. They often choose to go with the low estimate, or an estimate that seems to give them more for their money. Customers often get duped into purchasing from a company that deals with high volume, low quality "cookie cutter" installs. Meaning, in order to keep their prices down, they ignore the fact that every home is different, and systems are not one size fits all. They also forego practices which are needed to meet the highest industry engineering standards. Or they start out with good intentions, but realize they under-bid the job and start cutting corners.
They may sell you a furnace with an "aluminized" heat exchanger, instead of a stainless steel heat exchanger. An aluminized heat exchanger is still made out of inexpensive steel and it can still rust.
They may install a cheap single stage thermostat on a 2 stage furnace. This causes your furnace to default its second stage operation to a timer and not operate by air temperature. This results in efficiency and comfort loss.
They may sell you an AC unit with a 14 or 15 SEER energy efficiency rating, but install a cheap "Piston" refrigerant metering device, when the manufacturer requires a separately purchased TXV metering device to reach those efficiency ratings. Installing a piston will often derate the manufacturers efficiency rating.
They may install an unmatched evaporator coil that was never laboratory tested with the condenser in order to certify its efficiency rating. The EPA requires matched systems to get your Energy Star tax rebates. NIPSCO also requires matched systems for their rebate program.
They may ignore your duct-work and airflow requirements of your system. For example, they may sell you a 3 ton AC unit because its "bigger and cooler", but your duct-work is only capable of flowing 2- 2.5 tons. Also, even if the duct-work is adequate, sometimes a system is over-sized. This causes the system to cool so rapidly, it doesn't have enough time to remove moisture. Your home will be cool, but damp.
They may ignore installing something as simple as a trap on your AC drain. Without a drain trap, the water may be sucked back into the drain pan during operation, which doesn't allow for proper dehumidification.
They may ignore air-flow requirements for your furnace. Not enough air-flow will cause your furnace burners to turn on and off during the heating cycle. This is happening because the furnace is going out on high limit due to overheating. This can cause your heat exchanger to crack. Your furnace burners should never turn on and off during a heating cycle. All furnaces have a temperature rise range information sticker on the inside of the furnace. We have seen popular companies in our area bypass the high limit safety after they realized the furnace they installed was overheating. This is very dangerous.
They may install a new 410-A AC unit on old R-22 refrigerant lines. This causes oil contamination and also modern higher efficiency units often require bigger refrigerant lines to achieve their efficiency ratings and proper oil return to the compressor.
The may cheaply solder your new AC refrigerant lines instead of brazing them. They may tell you its not needed and soldering is just as good. Its not, brazing is much stronger. New units use POE oil which acts like a solvent. This oil will lift solder flux and it will be pumped through the system where it will create clogs. For this reason brazing is required by the manufacturers.
They may braze your AC lines, but not pre-purge them with nitrogen to keep burning scale caused by oxygen out of your system. Burning scale will clog your system.
They may not properly evacuate your system for moisture, air and other non-condensables. This can only be done with a micron gauge, often not even carried on a competitors truck. Your system should be evacuated down to at least 300-500 microns. This cant be done by guesswork.
They may charge a system just until it feels cold, and not by the proper Superheat or Subcooling charging scale method. This method is based on proper temperatures and pressures specific to the refrigerant chemical in your system. This also can't be done by guesswork. Not doing this properly causes efficiency loss and or system damage.
They may want to sell you an expensive ECM (Electronically Commutated Motor) equipped furnace, but fail to tell you how costly they are to own. Recent studies have shown that most of the ECM energy savings comes from customers who choose to leave their blower on to run constantly. Much like a light bulb, most of us don't do this. Laboratory tests have also shown that common high static pressure in the ducts can cause a ECM furnace to use almost as much energy as a standard PSC motor (Split capacitor Motor) furnace. Most people will get very upset when it comes to cost of repairs on these ECM furnaces. ECM motor replacement can cost 3-4 times as much as a standard PSC motor replacement. When this happens, you have lost all your money savings. 95% efficiency, PSC, single stage furnaces are readily available on the market. There is no need to purchase an ECM equipped furnace for potential energy savings. These ECM furnace problems are so well known, it has prompted manufactures to develop conversion kits to change costly ECM blower motor furnaces into standard PSC motor furnaces.
Wow, I got a maintenance agreement with the install! Don't be fooled. These maintenance agreements are designed to hide bad installs and generate future sales. They will not find anything wrong, or band-aide a problem with your system as long as their installation warranty is in effect. After the installation warranty is over, they magically find problems. Now you're locked into 2 years of repairs and services. The warranty may offer reduced pricing on parts, but they will just increase cost elsewhere. They lock you into having to call them for repairs and they will insist on unneeded parts replacement, or you will lose the agreement coverage. You are better off forfeiting the agreement, rather than have someone take advantage of you. Also remember equipment "checks" can not, and will not guarantee no immediate future breakdowns.
There are many ways to do a bad install or ruin your expensive system. Customers often go unaware of these problems, until a qualified technician finds them. At Valtech, we never take short-cuts. We often turn down jobs, if we are unable to perform them to the highest industry standards. We are not in the practice of just telling a customer what they want to hear to get the job. We tell them what they need to hear. Sometimes we have to tell them bad news, and why we can't perform a job other companies told them they can do. These other companies are quick to take your money, but hard to get a hold of when the deficiencies in the install start causing you problems. We feel that even though a proper install cost more, the customer will never have to second guess what kind of quality they received. They will always get the highest of industry standards, and a system that will last for years to come. We have often seen companies with popular names in the Porter County area do horrible substandard work. Years ago these companies often started out doing great installs, but now rely on their name, cheap labor and substandard practices to stay competitive. High volume, low quality installs are a short-sided business model. Valtech will never adopt this business strategy. We feel our integrity holds more value, and our customers will benefit from this.