The vast majority of HVAC contractors genuinely want to do what's best for their customers. In an attempt to save customers money, some may be tempted to hook a 13-SEER unit to the existing evaporator. This mistake could lead to lawyers, courts, and business-wrecking judgments.

The Transcript

Attorney:Are you licensed to install heating and cooling equipment in this state?

Contractor: Yes.

Attorney: When did you first receive a call from Mrs. Senior informing you the new air conditioner you installed would not cool her home below 80 degrees?

Contractor: I installed the unit in April, but I didn't get any calls until mid-June.

Attorney: Did you include a new evaporator with Mrs. Senior's new 13-SEER unit?

Contractor: No. Mrs. Senior was a good customer; I wanted to save her some money. Besides, I got the new unit installed the same day her old compressor died.

Attorney: Did the equipment manufacturer and distributor both recommend the evaporator be replaced with every 13-SEER unit?

Contractor: Yes, but I've always had good luck using existing evap coils. Besides, it would have taken at least two extra days to get sheet metal made for a new evap.

Attorney: How many times did you go to Mrs. Senior's home in an attempt to get the temperature below 80 degrees?

Contractor: Five or six. We were about to get it fixed when Mrs. Senior called another contractor. I heard they charged her over $4,000 to fix some ductwork and install a furnace and evap.

Attorney: Did you do a heat gain study before installing the new air conditioning unit?

Contractor: I didn't need to; her old equipment was big enough to heat and cooled just fine.

Attorney: At any time did you inform Mrs. Senior that without the right evaporator she would not receive a full 13 SEER in energy savings?

Contractor: I'm not sure. That was a long time ago.

Attorney: Would you please read the line circled on the contract between you and Mrs. Senior?

Contractor: Install new 13-SEER high-efficiency unit.

Attorney: From what you just read, do you feel Mrs. Senior was led to believe she would receive 13 SEER worth of energy savings?

Contractor: I didn't tell her she would get 13 SEER. If she assumed she would get 13 SEER, it's not my fault. I sure didn't promise her anything.

Attorney: Are you aware fraud can be committed by false suggestions, innuendo, or silence?

Contractor: I don't know, but I'm sure my attorney can answer that.

Attorney: As a licensed contractor, you're deemed to be an expert on heating and air conditioning. As an expert, is it possible for mold to grow in a home that is not properly dehumidified?

Contractor: It could happen.

Attorney: Do you remember when Mrs. Senior first called you about the mold in her home?

Contractor: Sure, the Fourth of July. We were swamped; I told her we'd get to her soon as possible ... if that's what you're getting at.

Attorney: Did she tell you the mold was making her sick?

Contractor: Come on ... that mold had been there for years.

Attorney: Would you please explain to this court how, without doing a heat gain study to prove the correct size, you could install a new 13-SEER unit utilizing a 17-year-old evaporator and expect it to remove enough moisture so mold would not be likely to grow in Mrs. Senior's home?

The Moral

Thanks to mold, our industry has been discovered by trial attorneys. To avoid potential nightmares, install it right and sleep soundly all night.

Steve Howard is the founder of The ACT Group. He can be reached at either 602-678-1055 or

Publication date: 05/16/2005