Replacing Heat Pump - What questions to ask?

grassgirlApril 15, 2009

We need to replace our heat pump (first time I've ever done this). We have 4 companies lined up to come give estimates and I understand installation is as important, if not more so, than the actual equipment.

So, what do I need to know / ask of the installation company when they come out to provide estimates? What are "good signs" of a good company and bad signs of a bad one?

My situation is perhaps slightly different. We are planning on moving in 2 years, so we are not looking top of line with all bells and whistles or paying for long term warranties. But I do want a decent system that works well and is sized appropriately.

Thanks in advance for your help!

sue

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ryanhughes

Heat loss/load calculation to determine sizing.

Thorough inspection of ductwork to ensure adequate sizing and return air.

All model numbers provided with different options/upgrades.

Clear display of professionalism and competence--which you of course already know!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 11:16PM
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garyg

If you are moving in 2 years, get a basic 13 SEER heat pump. You'll save $$ in operating costs compared to your present heat pump while minimizing your purchase price.

All HVAC manufacturers have a basic 13 SEER builders-grade model.

If you plan on staying in the house, a 14 or 15 SEER, 9 HSPF, usually offers the best combination of purchase price and operating costs.

FYI: Most mfrs offer more than 1 brand under their own ownership - Trane and American Standard are the same, Carrier and Bryant, Rheem and Ruud, Goodman and Amana.

Get a 2 year labor warranty to cover the time that you are in the home.

Get many quotes if you're not in an emergency. Make sure all work is written on the quotes. The more quotes you get, the more questions you ask, the smarter you become with HVAC.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 9:37PM
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tk03

If they do not measure the home, door, windows etc don't waste your time with them. Move on to someone else. If they are willing to cut the corner on the most important step at this stage of the process what else will be skipped?

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ about importance of heat loss

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 2:39PM
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ryanhughes

"If they do not measure the home, door, windows etc don't waste your time with them. Move on to someone else. If they are willing to cut the corner on the most important step at this stage of the process what else will be skipped?"

Not all companies are going to do that upon the first visit for an initial estimate, understandably. But, a load calc is important to determine sizing before the installation occurs.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 2:59PM
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stevenc131

"If they do not measure the home, door, windows etc don't waste your time with them. Move on to someone else. If they are willing to cut the corner on the most important step at this stage of the process what else will be skipped?"

I recently purchased a new system, and I had 8 or 9 sales reps come out. I stuck with reputable companies who had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, NATE certified techs, Comfort Care specialists, President's Awards, etc. Not a single one even mentioned doing a load calc, or any other type of measurement.

I wouldn't rule out a dealer just because they didn't offer to do a load calc, you'll probably have to insist to get one done. In the real world it's rare to have someone come in and do a load calc, at least in my experience.

As far as the heat pump, sticking with the lower end units would make most sense financially. If you look at mid-grade units, also ask about the higher end units. I found that with the 30%/$1500 Fed. tax credit that the higher end units ended up costing the same, or even less, than some of the better mid-grade units.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 3:50PM
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tigerdunes

grassgirl

these are the min specs one should look for in a new HP system.

15 SEER, 12.5+ EER, 9 HSPF
best rated matching var speed air handler
full BTUs in both cooling and heating for rated size
R-410a refrigerant
new lineset preferred
scroll compressor preferred
electronic demand defrost preferred
thermostat with "dehumidify on demand" feature
staged backup heat strips

The Fed Govt will offer up to a $1500 tax credit for qualifying systems the next two years. It would be a mistake to leave this on the table by not upgrading. see link for details.

my personal favorites are the following:

Trane XL15i or sister mdl Am Std Heritage 15
Carrier Performance 15 "H" mdl or sister mdl Bryant Preferred 15

Let me know if you have any questions.

IMO

Here is a link that might be useful: Fed Govt Tax Credit HVAC

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 4:45PM
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grassgirl

Thanks all for the information!

Just had my first estimate visit tonight. As with all things in this house it seems, the builder cut many corners and the ductwork is not at all what it should be.

The design of our house is unusual -- living area/kitchen on the second floor - vaulted ceilings with a lot of sun exposure and windows...etc. All things that were not considered. It doesn't surprise me. (The house was built 20 yrs ago, we've been here 7 yrs)

I don't have an actual estimate yet w/ equipment but time estimate is a day and 1/2 to 2 days to do the install (with correcting the duct work set up). I'm definitely afraid of what the labor alone will run...let alone the equipment.

Is it too late to just going back to being a renter?! :-)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 9:34PM
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