It's bound to happen. Then again, maybe it already has. You walk into a customer's home and do everything a quality contractor should do. You listen to the homeowner's problems and show that you care about his/her comfort. You attempt to find out if any rooms are too drafty or dry during the winter, or too hot or damp during the summer. If a new system is necessary, you perform a load calculation, explain any changes which might be necessary in the duct system, and present options to help make the best decision regarding replacing the old system.

Here is where some resistance may surface, especially should you have to tell the customer this new system needs both a new outdoor unit, as well as a new indoor coil. "But that's just going to be too costly," says Thomas, the homeowner.

"Unfortunately, it may have an initial first cost, but it will be most beneficial to the system in the long run," you reply.

"You're giving me a line," snaps back the doubting Thomas, believing you are just pulling his leg.

"Not at all," you reply.

"Yeah, right," is the quick retort. "You salespeople are all alike. Why should I believe what you are telling me?"

Ahhhh. Here is where you can become the most trusted contractor on the block. You can steer that doubting Thomas to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute's (ARI's) Website.


Yep, ARI can (and should) be your biggest supporter. Not that this industry trade association ever left you in a cloud of dust. It's just now you have its official support when you inform your skeptical homeowner that he/she needs a new indoor coil to go along with that new high-efficient outdoor unit he/she just purchased/needed.

ARI recently issued a press release to the general public, pointing out that manufacturers of new 13 SEER and higher units want homeowners to be aware that proper installation of these air conditioners is more critical than ever. As every contractor knows (or should know!), in central air conditioning systems with a 13 SEER or higher rating, these two units need to be perfectly matched for the system to function properly.

"A new air conditioning or heat pump system can be expensive and homeowners are sometimes tempted to save money by just replacing the outdoor unit, but that is going to waste their money down the road," said William Sutton, president of ARI. "Homeowners will not achieve peak efficiency and comfort from their cooling system unless it is properly matched and installed. Improperly installed systems may function, but not at peak performance, and could prematurely fail."

ARI is telling homeowners that they should ask their technician to confirm that the outdoor condensing unit they have (or are to purchase) is perfectly matched with the indoor coil by providing them with an "ARI Certificate of ARI Certified-Performance." This certificate verifies that the outdoor and indoor units are perfectly matched as an ARI Performance Certifiedâ„¢ system. It is designed to assure homeowners that the product they purchased will perform as stated by the manufacturer.

Cut out this editorial, if you want. Show your customer that you are not making this up just to make a sale.

In fact, ARI noted that homeowners can check if their system is perfectly matched by using the ARI Directory of Certified Product Performance. Encourage your doubting homeowner to input the model numbers of the indoor and outdoor units to find out if it is a matched system. No hiding. The directory can be accessed online at

If you are upfront with the homeowner, you should make the sale. You can be the one that encourages the homeowner to look online for the answer he/she seeks. ARI is there to back you up.


With this added trust, look for the homeowner to change his/her opinion regarding you. Trust can do that.

It is at this time you can help determine if a consumer's home or building is prone to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems due to organic resins or vapors, poor air turnover, or high humidity. Being the trustworthy contractor, you should be able to recommend system accessories that may prevent conditions that adversely affect health and comfort.

After all, a quality contractor is up-to-date on the newest developments in equipment, technology, and design procedures in order to choose and install a system that will be the most efficient and most reliable system for the customer. If you speak the truth, there should be no doubters.

Yet, for those homeowners who are not so believing - for whatever reason - the fact you can steer them to a third-party source for the correct answer. ... well, it just makes sense to do so.

Mark Skaer, Senior Editor, 618-239-0288,

Publication date: 05/15/2006