And Despite Thoughtful Planning…
The compressor finally went on one of the hottest and most humid days of the year.
This was bad enough, but it was made worse by the fact we had a new puppy in the house, and my mother was visiting, who simply does not tolerate heat very well at all.
We were miserable, and we had to get a solution as quickly as possible, making options like the installation of a geothermal unit less appealing as we needed comfort now, not weeks later when a geothermal unit could be installed.
Despite the fact that we’d already done our homework and made a decision to go with a geothermal system, I needed to make the best decision I could, as fast as possible, and circumstances had changed. Geothermal was not in the cards.
We needed to make a good choice that would affect our comfort and our bank account not only now, but for the foreseeable future.
In a short period of time, I had to learn everything I could about SEER, Tonnage and other conventional HVAC terms to make sure I was getting a system that would keep our home comfortable, even on the third floor, and the bonus room over the garage.
Needing a system this quickly means there’s not a lot of time for getting competitive bids and cross comparing several contractors, all of whom see a big payday with the replacement of a whole system. And, of course, I worried they might take advantage of us because we were desperate for relief.
I discussed the replacement with our HVAC contractor, and we cross-checked their recommendations and pricing with a friend who is also an HVAC guy in another part of the State. He told us about what we would need, and a ballpark of the cost, so we knew our local guy was not taking advantage of us, which helped us feel more secure in our emergency decision.
We did our research both online, looking at different brands and what they promised, and what our friend and contractor recommended. Despite the articles online that say you can get a new furnace for $4,000 and new air conditioning for about the same price, they never tell you you often need both at once, and you need extra things to go along with it- altering the ductwork, changing the chimney and exhaust system to accommodate the new system, a humidity control system, and maybe even a new thermostat, because some newer systems require a different sort of thermostat to work properly! And there’s the permit costs required by local governments to make sure work is done up to code and they are putting the proper system in each home. We needed the help of professionals who could give it to us straight, let us know the full costs we were looking at, and help us make a good choice, now that we needed to make one in a hurry!
Our contractor and our friend both liked American Standard systems, manufactured by Trane Corporation.
They were well built and meant to last.
The company didn’t spend the same sort of money on advertising as other companies did, so they weren’t as big a brand name, but all their ratings across the board were solid and reliable. In fact, in this year’s ratings, Consumer Reports found that American Standard units had the fewest number of breakage by the 5th year of ownership than any other brand.
You can check it out here: https://www.consumerreports.org/products/central-air-conditioner/brand-reliability-only/
It was a heat wave, and our contractor was really busy.
We weren’t the only people in trouble, but our contractor expedited our replacement with a great new complete American Standard gas furnace and central air conditioning system.
Our contractor told us we could just replace the air conditioning, but there was a high chance once the opened up our heating system, it was likely that the heat exchanger had cracked. They couldn’t tell for sure until they opened the system up (which has high labor costs), so they recommended replacing the whole system at once, and once we considered the overall costs and timing, we agreed this was likely the best decision.
And our contractor was right — the heat exchanger for the furnace was cracked, so replacement was an important safety decision as well.
This is when you really appreciate the experience a good HVAC contractor brings to a job.
We scheduled the installation and prepared to let a bunch of strangers into our home — never a fun thing — during the heat wave, with my mother and the kids and the new puppy all sweating profusely and asking me when the air conditioner would be fixed.
They know I have a job too, right?