Hiring Professional Services
When you air conditioner needs more than the regular maintenance described previously, hire a professional service technician. A well-trained technician will find and fix problems in your air conditioning system. However, not all service technicians are competent. Incompetent service technicians forsake proper diagnosis and perform only minimal stop-gap measures. Insist that the technician:
- Check for correct amount of refrigerant;
- Test for refrigerant leaks using a leak detector;
- Capture any refrigerant that must be evacuated from the system, instead of illegally releasing it to the atmosphere;
- Check for and seal duct leakage in central systems;
- Measure air flow through the evaporator coil;
- Verify the correct electric control sequence and make sure that the heating system and cooling system cannot operate simultaneously;
- Inspect electric terminals, clean and tighten connections, and apply a nonconductive coating if necessary;
- Oil motors and check belts for tightness and wear; and
- Check the accuracy of the thermostat.
Choosing a Contractor
Choosing a contractor may be the most important and difficult task in buying a new central air conditioning system. Ask prospective contractors for recent references. If you are replacing your central air conditioner, tell your contractor what you liked and did not like about the old system. If the system failed, ask the contractor to find out why. The best time to fix existing problems is when a new system is being installed.
When designing your new air conditioning system, the contractor you choose should:
- Use a computer program or written calculation procedure to size the air conditioner;
- Provide a written contract listing the main points of your installation that includes the results of the cooling load calculation;
- Give you a written warranty on equipment and workmanship; and
- Allow you to hold the final payment until you are satisfied with the new system.
Avoid making your decision solely on the basis of price. The quality of the installation should be your highest priority, because quality will determine energy cost, comfort, and durability.