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Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Posted by hamconsulting (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 5, 12 at 20:49

I was wondering how common it is to hire an ac installer to inspect ur new split system install?

Many people point out that a good installation is key in ensuring that ur system runs good and ur equipment lasts a long time.

Who else can I hire to inspect my new install? And is there a checklist on what to inspect?

I wouldn't mind paying a couple of hundred bucks to have an independent person come and perform such an inspection. It would give me a good way to quickly find out of the install is good or not.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Assuming you insured the proper permits were pulled, the Inspector you are seeking performs that independent inspection on your behalf and on the behalf of the populace in general. I have made it a point to be present and during these inspections and always was able to discuss my installation with the inspector and got all of my concerns answered or otherwise addressed.

This is one time "Big Brother" is very much welcomed.

YMMV


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

The city inspectors are mainly concerned with adhering to city codes and not with the quality of the a/c installation.

For example, the city inspector will make sure that your new outside a/c unit meets a minimum of SEER 13, your new gas furnace meets a minimum of 78% AFUE, your new duct work has proper insulation, your equipment is far enough from the property line, your equipment is not on the roof, etc.

I'm more interested if the welds were done correctly, or the variable speed two stage gas furnace was configured correctly, or the two-stage thermostat was wired right, or the proper amount of refrigerant is in the system, or the fan variable speed is operating right when the a/c is on, etc.

Or am I missing the point with the city inspectors?


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

true code inspectors inspect to see
if install does no harm and meets
minimum standards.

some home inspectors are trained
in hvac. but you'd need to shop for
one and ask questions as to what type
of inspection/testing they would do.

other than that..
having known really good hvac installers
I could recommend to give unbiased
information to my clients has left
me at a loss as to how to advise
homeowners in other locations.

best of luck.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I think your time is better spent finding a competent HVAC contractor you're comfortable with, rather than looking for someone to give you a second opinion. If the work is done well, there's nothing to inspect. Plan for success rather than planning for failure.

Many install "wrongs", especially those involving design and equipment choices, may not be correctable or easily fixed after the fact. As Energy says, building inspectors look for minimum code compliance and (in my experience) normally care about little else.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Re: Find a competent HVAC contractor

I've interviewed 7 HVAC contractors/dealers. Some are really good at talking and I feel that they would do a great job, but I won't know how good the install is going to be until they install it. That's the truth.

Since I'm not an expert, I need to hire an independent expert to verify the install. I can look at the weld points and check the ducts, but I have no tools nor expertise in verifying the install. I figure that paying $200 to get an expert's opinion is worth the cost.

In fact, I've noticed that HVAC contractors were quick at pointing out problems like the upright gas furnace in my attic, the evap coil being 5 feet away from the gas furnace, the existing ducts being crushed in some areas, a hole in a duct, missing secondary condensate line, missing cover on the lineset, etc.

These HVAC contractors are quick at noticing problems when giving out quotes. So, I figure I would use their expertise to validate my install.

So, I already spent a few months looking for a competent contractor. Now I need to verify that this contractor is going to do a good job and $200 sounds like a reasonable fee to get a second opinion.

Re: Many install "wrongs", especially those involving design

I have a small 1430 sqft single-story home in a mild Los Angeles weather. Winters get super cold when the temperature falls to the mid 30s which is two days out of the year. We need a/c about 20 days out of the year and only in the late afternoon to early evening.

Re: Bad equipment selection

The best installer that I came across recommends and installs Goodman equipment. The worst HVAC contractor was the American Standard. The Trane guy was a talking salesman who didn't actually do the installs himself.

So, I avoided entry-level equipment and I picked the best installer that I interviewed. I'm still going to get a second opinion from an expert HVAC contractor once the install is complete.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I live in coastal Cal too, though not in LA. Not sure why you think it matters, heat is heat and AC is AC. Pasadena Ca is the same as Pasadena Texas in that regard.

After you pay $200 to find out you have problems, are you going to pay to have someone else do the fixes? Some things won't be fixable. Why not hire that someone else in the first place.

Do what you like, but between Yelp, Angie's List, friends and neighbors, you ought to be able to get good recommendations. I lived in LA once, there were loads of good service providers.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

and...La. is louisiana
L.A. is california.

just saying that clarification of
location is important.

best of luck.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Oh my, Energy, you're right. I glossed over that, though I see in hindsight he did spell it out, so I had it right.

It's probably a regional thing. I've never heard anyone say or use the letters L A for anything other than Los Angeles, and you may say the opposite as to your state in return.

You're in Louise eee anna?


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

My point is about having someone verify the ac install. Many in the know on this board preach the importance of a good install, but everyone assumes that their highly recommended and well trained installer will do a great install.

Yet, no one dares hire an independent ac contractor to verify the install. This is not a new concet. Anyone who tries to qualify for a rebate has to pay fees to test out the ducts or to perform a blow test to see how leaky your house is.

I'm just trying to do it with no rebates.

If verification comes out fine, then I'll have peace of mind. If it discovers problems, then I'll go back to get them fixed under warranty. If original installer doesn't stad by his work, then I'll pay extra to have someone else fix it. In either case, I end up with a better install and everyone says a good install can prolong the life of equpment.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

OP the rub is that different hvac companies
will create issues. so it is a crap shoot.
original installer should test install, or
new company.

you may want to hire RESNET enegy rate or Bpi
inspectpor with experience in hvac area.

and snidley...born in La. lived in Tennesse for
a while & came home.
I'm a Louisiana girl..through & through!


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Energy,
I've been all over the US (just like the Hank Snow/Johnny Cash song), incl La, and it's always been interesting to me to see the wide variety and diversity of places that people call home. But no matter where, as Dorothy said, there's no place like home.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Thanks for tip on resnet.

It's interesting that in order to qualify for rebates, there are some specific things that must be tested by independent company. I suppose Rebate issuer does not trust installers. I'm not going for rebates, but just want to verify install.

I suppose a duct test for air leaks is one. Appropriate refrigerant on lines is another.

I can check lineset is correct size. I can check equipment models match the ahri ref number I asked for. I have ahri certificate from web site and those models are on order form for install.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

"Assuming you insured the proper permits were pulled, the Inspector you are seeking performs that independent inspection on your behalf and on the behalf of the populace in general. I have made it a point to be present and during these inspections and always was able to discuss my installation with the inspector and got all of my concerns answered or otherwise addressed.

This is one time "Big Brother" is very much welcomed. "

"Big Brother" is not going to slap gauges on the system and determine if it is charged correctly or sized correctly.
The AHJ is going to do a visual check for obvious code violations, maybe look a little harder for electrical violations, and owes you NOTHING if they miss something.

They are NOT QC for your installer.

Since residential AC systems rarely present a public hazard they are pretty low on the inspectors priority list.

The permit is more a way of taxing than anything else.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

brickeyee,

Thank you for your keen insight.

Have you EVER heard of anyone EVER hiring an independent inspector to check the installation of a home HVAC system?

This post was edited by saltidawg on Mon, Dec 10, 12 at 14:08


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

"The permit is more a way of taxing than anything else."

No, permits (and inspections) enforce compliance with applicable building codes. Why have building codes? For safety reasons. Building inspectors are to building codes what traffic cops are to traffic laws.

When listing a house for sale, a standard required disclosure in my area is to answer the question "To the best of the sellers' knowledge, were appropriate building permits obtained for any construction or remodeling work that was performed that required permits." Answering "No" to that question becomes very problematic. This particular practice is to protect buyers from work done by half-a$$ DIY'ers.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I'm leaning in energy raters suggestion. When I stared this process and spoke to several contractors/dealers/installers, I also got a free energy review from my electric company.

During these conversations, there were several times they mentioned testing companies and energy rating companies. I going to see if I can find one that will test my ducts for air leaks and check my install for possible problems.

I think I used the wrong word when saying I needed an inspector. I really meant to say I need a testing agency to test my hvac system. It sounds less controversial.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I want my install tested. I feel that this will give me peace of mind that the i's are dotted and the t's were crossed.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

good for you.
the saying you get what you pay for
should be you get what is inspected.

code inspection is minimimum.

best of luck.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

'No, permits (and inspections) enforce compliance with applicable building codes. Why have building codes? For safety reasons. Building inspectors are to building codes what traffic cops are to traffic laws. '

Many jurisdictions use permits as an excuse to re-assess taxes, and collect fees for the permit.

I have lived in a number of places that require permits for roofing.

I have yet to see more than a drive by inspection.

One place demanded a permit for replacement gutters.
Another drive by.

A jurisdiction I used to live in required a permit to hang drywall.

ANY drywall.

No inspector ever set foot in the house.

Like the police who barely know the laws they are charged with enforcing, the inspectors are hardly better in many places.

they freak out if you do anything better than code.

I had a friend finish his basement and put duplex receptacles on 6 foot centers instead of the minimum required 12 foot spacing.

The inspector freaked.
He spent an hour on the phone with his boss before understanding that closer spacing met the requirement for larger spacing.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

brickeyee,

You may have missed it, but I earlier asked you the following:

"Have you EVER heard of anyone EVER hiring an independent inspector to check the installation of a home HVAC system?"


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Brickeye, I think your understanding is incomplete.

Jurisdictions don't need an "excuse" to re-assess. When taxes are based on property value, doing improvements usually raises the value. If you don't like that system, you can work to get your law changed. In the meantime, you should be happy they bird dog people who don't follow the rules - if they didn't get them to pay their fair share, your own tax bill would be higher.

I'm not a code expert, but where I live there is a code for roofs. A few years after buying a house, what had been thought to be a fairly new roof failed and I had to pay for a complete replacement. Why? Because no permit had been pulled by the previous owner, code hadn't been followed, and there were 3 roofs under the new one (the code limit was one or two). The shingles were attached to a weak substructure and blew off in a wind storm.

I love building code enforcement and also when people get reassessed for making improvements. Just like I like cops. You should too.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

snidely,

brickeyee chose not to answer either my polite inquiry nor yours earlier... I suspect he'll not reply now. c'est la vie.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I have a friend who is an ashi inspector.
he has been hired to oversee slab pours
for new constuction homes.
he tells about sending concrete trucks back
because slump of concrete was off.

I do independent inspections of hvac, insulation
& residential construction new & existing homes.

sometimes a second pair of eyes on a project
is a good thing. people building who don't live
near the build often hire someone to keep an
eye on things.

so yeah..people hire independent inspectors.
it isn't as uncommon as you'd think apparently.

peace of mind for the homeowner who admits
they have no expertiese in an area is worth
something to them.

do what makes you comfortable hamconsulting,
its your project.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I'm still kinda shocked at the reaction on this board to hire a second pair of eyes on behalf of a homeowner who is not an expert on hvac systems. I'm shocked because a good install is stressed all over this board as a key factor in having a reliable long lasting system.

Yet, almost everyone assumes that my interviewing skills are so good that I was able to hire an honest, hard working, hvac installer. I hired who I thought would do the best work. Unfortunately, I cannot verify his work.

In fact, I recently downloaded a document that list the top mistakes in installing a new hvac system. There are things in this report that I cannot validate as true.

I'll try to post that document to see if it's valid information.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I tried attaching the PDF on the most common mistakes when installing a new a/c system, but PDFs don't work here. Here's what it says:

1. Wrong Refrigeration Piping Sizes and Connections.

My line set is over 30 feet, but under 50 feet. According to this document, I should be at 3/8 liquid line and 7/8 suction line for my 3-ton condenser.

Document mentions an inverted loop for suction line (see image in document). Top of the loop has to be higher than the top of the coil. Is this right? I need to ask installer about this inverted loop.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

2. Equipment Mismatching.

I got AHRI Certificate and verified equipment (variable gas furnace, evap coil, and condenser) matches certificate, so I should be at 15-SEER with my new equipment. I think I can check this item off.

3. Inadequate Air Flow.

The variable speed gas furnace needs to be set/configured correctly at 1200 CFM to blow enough air for my 3-ton condenser. I'm not sure how to check this, but I'll ask installer.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

4. Improper Condensation Drainage.

Drains must have a p-trap. Secondary drain must exist. This installer said he was going to install a secondary drain because I only have a primary drain. Need to ask about the p-trap.

5. Improper Electrical.

I hope the city will check the electrical. I'm replacing an existing system, so the electrical was already there. Disconnect was already there.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I spoke with installer about the size of the suction line. He says that 3/4 is fine with my 3-ton system (AHRI Ref #4922045).

The common mistakes document says that I should be at 7/8 suction line due to the length being over 25 feet, but under 50 feet. I estimate my lineset will be around 35 to 40 feet.

Aspen Evap Coil CE36A34+TDR comes with a pre-installed TXV. Aspen manual says 7/8 suction line.

Goodman SSX14036 condenser's manual says to use 3/4 suction line, but doesn't mention the length of the lineset.

So, I'm already stuck on common mistake #1. This is harder than I thought.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

There is nothing wrong with the idea of hiring an unbiased HVAC professional to review the installation. It is unfortunate that you have to do this, but it is far better to go on with a bad installation.

The question is what HVAC expert can you hire for $200? What you are describing is a very detailed review of the installation. This probably means someone who is familiar with the installation specifications of Goodman equipment. Which company are you going to hire? Are you going to call one of the HVAC contractors who gave you a bid you rejected? How confident are you about the inspection company and can you trust their opinion?

I am not trying to discourage you on this idea. I am just questioning on how practical it is. Please keep us up to date on how this goes.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

I have seen folks call out another HVAC company to 'look over' a new install.

Guess what?

They ALWAYS find problems.

I have enough licenses and knowledge to inspect work (and often sign off on commercial work).

While no place needs a real reason to change an appraisal, many use the opportunity to a permit for just that purpose outside of their usual re-appraisal process.

It is doubtful that replacing an old system actually addsa any value.
If a house has central air the buyers expect it to work.
Plumbing is expected to work.

A new electrical service panel is unlikely to recover its cost.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

Brickeye, a simple example-

Two 40 year old tract houses side by side, identical in all respects. HVAC in both houses was replaced 20 years ago and both function fine. This year, the house on the right has the following work done:

Galvanized water pipes (nearing end of life) replaced by copper (or Pex)

20 year old Furnace replaced by a 90% efficient one, also an efficiency upgrade to AC

New roof.

You get the picture. Both houses have exactly the same functions, nothing's changed. But the house on the right will be worth considerably more because of the work that was done. Dollar for dollar, probably not exactly. But the nature of this work, I'd guess probably close to that. And maybe more, it'll give the house on the right the aura of being in better condition and better maintained, not a fixer upper. And because value increased, the assessed value for prop tax should be increased.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

interesting the replies this question
has gotten isn't it?

I see units with disconnect directly
behind the unit (condensing units).
code says disconnect has to be to the side.
when I asked why..its because if unit
catches on fire..you don't want to reach
over the unit to turn off power.
who knew? (well you know what I mean!)


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

My new hvac install doesn't include a 5" media air filter nor fixing the hole to the crawl space inside my return vent. This is the hole that I patched with duct tape and plywood.

My plan is to look for another installer (not any of the ones that previously bid on my system) and get a quote to do this:
1. Add a 5" media air filter
2. Correctly fix the inside of the return vent
3. Inspect the areas listed in the common mistakes document:
(a) check the lineset for size, pressure, refrigerant -- I posted earlier that my installer says to use 3/4 suction line which is consistent with my condenser's manual.
(b) check the airflow through the evap coils -- this is to make sure that the blower on the heater is at 1200 CFMs.
(c) check the primary and secondary condensate drains -- installer already said he needs to install secondary drain since it's currently missing.
(d) check the electrical including disconnects outside and in attic -- I already have a disconnect on the outside condenser that's slightly above and to the side of the unit.

It might cost me more than $200, but I'm getting a new air filter, fixing the hole to the crawl space, and getting a checklist of items to consider fixing.

Prior to getting a quote, I'm going up in the attic to review the install myself with my current installer.

I'm going to check the seal of every duct to the register boots to make sure there are no air leaks that I can feel with my hand while the air is on.

I'm going to check that all the new ducts are not obstructed in any run.

I'm going to ask for the location of the disconnect in the attic for the gas furnace.

I'm going to check the lineset for visual leaks.

I'm going to inspect the lineset connections to my outside unit.

I'm going to check the amount of air coming out of each supply register.


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RE: Hiring inspector to inspect new install

here is the best way to seal supply grills.
see attached picture.
use Hardcast brand 1402 mastic tape.
remove supply grill.
apply hardcast tape, I use 3" wide
tape & split the lenghts of tape in half
for 1 1/2" wide lengths.
this is wide enough to stick to the sheetrock
of the ceiling, and fold into the metal lip
inside the supply box.
keep tape on sheetrock within area covered
by supply grill. once tape adheres to sheetrock
it will take off paint & paper of sheetrock.
press well to seal tape to both sheetrock
& metal lip. use small piece to reinforce corners.
reinstall supply grills.

mark which way the supply grill faces when
you remove it. you'll want it directing the
air in the original direction.

you can feel around the duct take offs on the
plenum & plenum connections when the unit is
running to get an idea of where duct leakage
needs to be sealed.

make sure that only mastics are used. no duct tape
no foil tape. be aware that duct caulks have strong
smells. if you want a good seal, stick to the mastic.
caulk looks easy..but doesn't seal like mastic tape
or mastic applied with a brush.

post some pics of your plenum ducts & return.
we will advise you as much as possible.

good for you that you are being proactive
in getting it done correctly.

if the hvac company has a flow hood (balometer)
they can check air flow & measure both supply
& return leakage.

best of luck.


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