What to Ask When Replacing an Air Conditioner

Replacing an Air Conditioner can be a pretty large expense, so it is important to know what you are getting.  When you receive an estimate from an HVAC company, there are a number of things to consider. If you are trying to compare estimates from different companies, you’ll need to get the same details from everyone. Not everything will be in the paperwork. Considerations, like financing and installation timing might have a big impact on your decision.

Here are some questions that you should keep in mind when asking for an estimate for a replacement Air Conditioner.

what should you ask when you need a new air conditioner

How reputable is the contractor that is going to install the air conditioner?

Check licenses and learn as much about the company as possible. We’ve identified the most important things to know in “How to Choose a Contractor”.

What is the estimated size or capacity necessary to cool my home comfortably?

There are some standard load capacity charts based on square footage, but the contractor should look at other factors as well. Things like ceiling height and the number of windows you have will also factor into how much cooling you’ll need. It is also important to make sure that all estimates quote the same cooling capacity. Too small of a capacity will be cheaper, but will not cool well enough. An oversized AC unit will cost more, but will be less efficient because it won’t remove moisture very well.

Do changes need to be made to the ductwork?

If you are having trouble with some rooms being too hot or cold, or you are concerned about leaky or old ductwork, then make sure you ask the contractor to inspect the ductwork and determine if any changes need to be made during the installation process. Improper ductwork can remove all the efficiency gained by installing a new AC unit, so this is an important step to making sure your new system keeps you comfortable and saves you money.

Should I consider a more efficient unit?

Some contractors will give you the price for the least efficient unit hoping to win your business based on price. You’ll want to take a look at the SEER rating on the estimate. We have more information about SEER and energy efficiency available in the information center, but the higher the number the more efficient the unit. More efficient units cost more, but you’ll want to talk with your contractor to determine whether paying for a more efficient unit is worth the investment.

You may also want to investigate Geothermal heat pumps, which are significantly more efficient than conventional systems. While the cost of these systems is higher, there are federal tax credits available (at least until the end of 2016) and state tax credits available in South Carolina.

What are the possible payment terms?

Replacing HVAC systems costs a lot compared to everyday purchases. Most heating and cooling companies have access to financing plans for their customers. You’ll want to ask about the various financing options available to you. This might include some shorter-term plans where you there is no interest as long as you pay the balance off on time. There are also usually longer-term options available that will let you pay a smaller monthly payment and spread the cost (with some interest) over multiple years. Just like with cars, sometimes manufacturers provide special financing deals that dealers can get for you. We usually post our special financing options on our specials page, but even if we aren’t running a special, financing is still available for qualified customers.

What is the warranty?

New installs should always carry a manufacturers warranty. The length of the warranty will vary depending on the system you are installing, but it is not uncommon for them to be 5 years or more on the main operating systems in the unit. Trane (and possibly other manufacturers) gives you an extended warranty on many products if you register your system. You’ll want to ask about the steps you need to take to complete any registration.

How soon can it be installed?

Installation time is important. When you are sitting in a hot house waiting on a new air conditioning unit, it becomes even more important. We install most new HVAC systems in a day. However, it won’t be the day you purchase. Make sure you know how soon installation will be completed before signing the contract.

Learn more about our Air Conditioner Replacement Service