Property Evaluation Steps for a Full Home HVAC Estimate

When you're requesting an HVAC estimate from a professional, there are many points to consider to ensure you are getting an accurate picture of what what type of system will be best for your home.

Some trust on your part is definitely involved when engaging a contractor to guide you through the evaluation process. 

A reputable and thorough contractor will not just sell you on any heating and/or air conditioning system, he/she will ensure the systems that are recommended will provide long-term comfort and efficiency for your unique living space.

Property Evaluation Steps


An initial property evaluation should be conducted by the contractor before any paperwork is signed or any decisions are made about your possible purchase. Below, we discuss the important steps that should be included for a full-home HVAC estimate.

Manual J Load Calculation


To begin the estimate process, a contractor should perform an ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors of America) Manual J Load Calculation. This calculation is meant to determine the proper sized furnace and air conditioning systems for your particular home. It looks at your existing furnace and air conditioning systems and takes into consideration a wide range of details about your home, including the quality of your current insulation, the number of windows, the home's configuration (one-, two- or three-story) and the direction your home faces.

The calculation can also reveal the total heating/cooling loss that is occurring through your exterior walls in both the warm and cold times of the year.The contractor uses all of this collected information to calculate the load, or the correct capacity, he/she will recommend for your new system(s). 

Assess Ductwork 


The size and efficiency of your home's ductwork is a main consideration when determining the right new HVAC system for your home. The recommendation of your contractor will be based on the home analysis, including the configuration of your home's existing ductwork (if any). 

Ductwork should be inspected for loose joints, holes or other damage that could compromise the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. If your ductwork needs repair or replacement, the contractor will include this suggestion in the complete estimate. In addition, if the size of your ductwork will not be compatible with the newer HVAC technology that will be recommended, this will be reflected in your estimate as well. 

Inspect Sealing and Insulation


The contractor will inspect the effectiveness of your home's window and door sealing and insulation. Insufficient sealing and insulation allows air to escape — the same air that you intended to cool or heat your home. Your estimator will determine whether your home is leaking air and make recommendations on how to remedy the situation before a new heating or air conditioning system is installed.

Adequate sealing and insulation will ensure that your newly installed systems can work at their maximum efficiency and you'll enjoy the energy and money savings they promise.

Present New Technology Options 


The estimator should be knowledgeable about new technologies available in heating and cooling systems. He/she should be able to make recommendations about new technologies you should consider and give you the reasons why. For example, if your home is heated with a boiler system, you now have effective options for adding central air conditioning. Air cleaners and energy efficient windows and doors can also help to upgrade your home with new technology. You can learn about air conditioning options for homes with a boiler system (little or no ductwork) in a related blog post.

Making Your Decision


You want your new system to operate as efficiently as possible and provide consistent comfort. Your contractor will need to measure your home and do a full home analysis to determine the proper unit and installation process needed for your home.

By taking the time to have a property evaluation completed as part of your HVAC estimate, you will most certainly learn a great deal about your home's features and systems. You will also save time, money and energy by getting a full and accurate picture of your heating and cooling needs so you can choose the best systems for your home.

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