Most homeowners don’t relish the thought of replacing their HVAC systems, but there’s a bright side when the time finally arrives. By the time an HVAC system has lived a full life, there are even more energy efficient models on the market, making it possible to achieve huge efficiency gains through replacement. But if a unit isn’t installed properly, many of those gains may go right out the window.

Installing a new HVAC system is not a DIY project. It takes a thorough understanding of safety, equipment operation and even local building codes to get the job done right. And if the job is done really poorly, lost energy efficiency is the least of your problems. Improperly installed systems can pose deadly risks of fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and other dangers.

Here are three of the most serious ways in which shoddy installation work can rob you of the benefits of a new HVAC system:

Mismatched System Size

HVAC systems come in all shapes and sizes, and a complex formula must be applied to determine the system capacity that is just right for your unique home. If an installer misapplies this formula (or worse, simply guesses at the correct size) it can result in both an uncomfortable home and a spiraling energy bill. 

When a unit is too small, it will run constantly without ever conditioning your home to the desired temperature. And when it’s too big, it will condition the space too quickly, causing the unit to cycle on and off frequently. This can dramatically shorten the lifespan of the unit and result in high indoor humidity in the summer, leaving your home feeling clammy.

Improper Refrigerant Charging

Air conditioners must be charged with refrigerant to exact specifications. When undercharged, an AC unit may develop frost or ice on its cooling coils and will fail to effectively cool your home. It can also lead to an overheating of the compressor motor, which can cause major damage to the unit. 

On the other hand, an overcharged system may cool effectively but inefficiently. You might not realize the problem until that first energy bill arrives. But it could be worse -- high refrigerant pressure could force coolant into the compressor motor, causing irreversible damage.

Leaky Air Ducts

Any thorough and professional HVAC installation should include an inspection of the duct system, and repairs or replacement should be conducted as needed. Leaky air ducts are a primary cause of HVAC efficiency loss, and there’s just no point in upgrading to an energy efficient system if you’re going to let all your treated air leak into your basement, attic and the spaces between your walls. 

In some cases, this inspection can lead a qualified installer to design a vastly more efficient ductwork system, resulting in an HVAC upgrade that saves even more energy than the homeowner initially bargained for.

Installation is not an afterthought -- it’s what will keep your family safe, your home comfortable and your utility bills low. If you’re planning for a system upgrade or replacement and want to talk to an installer you can trust, reach out to your local home comfort experts for a no-obligation consultation.

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