A friend of mine is buying a new HVAC system for his home and so of course he asked me The Dreaded Question: “What brand should I buy?”

When it comes time to replace an HVAC system, I understand that most people just want a simple answer. For one thing, a new furnace and air conditioner is a big investment. In addition, it’s not something people buy often, so not many people are familiar with the product s or the process.

But I can’t give them a simple answer. The name on the equipment is not insignificant, and the industry’s leading manufacturers are always improving their equipment’s quality and features. But there’s no way to overstate the importance of the skill, craftsmanship, and thoroughness with which the equipment is sold and installed. The best piece of equipment ever built, if improperly sized and shoddily installed, will not provide the performance that it’s capable of, nor will it deliver the comfort and peace of mind the customer is seeking.

I tried to tell this friend that what really matters is choosing a good contractor who has skilled and well-trained technicians. I told him how important running a load calculation is, and how his ductwork should be examined to ensure the system has both proper return and supply air. But, as often happens when someone would like a simple answer and start getting a long-winded one, he started to glaze over after a few seconds.

 All was not lost however: by telling him about our industry’s technician certification programs (everyone understands the ASE automobile comparison) I at least managed to get across to him the importance of a well-trained installation technician. I recommended that he check out the websites for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, North American Technician Excellence, and HVAC Excellence. I told him to think more about the contractor than the brand.  So, we’ll see what comes of it.  

In the meantime, I’m sure time next time someone is looking, they’ll probably ask me The Dreaded Question. But what else can we all do except try to educate one person at a time!

Publication date: 10/31/2017