For Homeowner

Questions to Ask Before Installing/Upgrading a Residential HVAC System

Aug 04, 2019
Questions to Ask Before Installing/Upgrading a Residential HVAC System

There are countless things that make you feel at home. But the temperature and humidity inside the home play a significant role in determining the comfort of the residents inside. During the peak of summer, the temperature inside your house can even be up to 20 degrees1 higher than what it is outside. The variation is also dependent on other factors like insulation.

Although the heating and cooling requirements can be different for different homes/individuals, a balanced temperature (acceptable to all) is what transforms a house into a home. A good Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning System (HVAC) can make it happen.

Whether you are upgrading an existing HVAC system or installing a new one in your home, don’t forget to ask these questions.

Is an HVAC upgrade required?

HVAC systems are robust systems that last for years. But periodic maintenance is required since they also have a lifespan like any other equipment. Usage beyond that period will result in ineffective functioning. This, in turn, will affect the safety and quality of life inside the building. An increase in energy consumption and a rise in noise level are some telling signs of an HVAC system issue. Repair, upgrade or replacement should be done at the right time; not just when major issues crop up. An HVAC engineering expert might also make suggestions to strengthen the structure for certain kinds of installations.

Thinking smart? Then a smart HVAC system would appeal to you. Imagine a system that automatically supplies more cool air to areas where more sunlight falls. You might also upgrade to a system that opens and closes smart blinds in relation to the position of the sun!

Are there legal requirements?

In some locations, modification of a living space calls for legal approvals. This is usually due to the possible impact it can have on the neighborhood or environment. Homeowners who have planned an HVAC installation need to have an understanding of the state and local requirements to avoid penalties.

Residents of California, for example, are expected to meet the energy efficiency standards of Title 24. But there are some exceptions too. Duct pressure testing is also required since leaky ducts can reduce the efficiency of your central AC system by as much as 40%.2. HVAC installations done without a permit could result in dire consequences, like cancellation of home insurance. There are scenarios where the equipment is placed on the rooftop or left hanging from the ceiling. In this case, structural calculations and building permits are required to proceed.

Where should it be installed?

The place of installation depends on the size, type, and location of the house. Usually, an HVAC system of an independent house is installed in a space that is not frequented by the family members – garage, basement/crawl space, storage room, or attic. Kids and senior citizens may not always be cautious when moving around in the area where the system is placed; this can be a cause for concern.

If the residents don’t have the luxury of extra space, the rooftop is another option. Earlier, rooftop systems were restricted to commercial buildings. Trends changed, and manufacturers started taking feedback from customers to design stylish systems that can be mounted on the rooftops of houses. But, this requires an engineer’s guidance to figure out the load-bearing capacity of the rooftop. In some cases, an extra concrete pad, with straps, would be required to accommodate the HVAC system. A rooftop unit is easier to maintain since the expert knows where to start in case of a technical glitch. That’s because the system has most of the core components packed in it.

How to choose a system?

The basic concept of heating and cooling are the same, but the requirements could vary depending on the location, size, and expectations of the residents inside the house. It is also dependent on the season. An HVAC system has multiple components – furnace, thermostat, duct, condensing unit, humidifier, air filter, and ventilator. Though some of the basic components remain the same, there are numerous types of HVAC systems – standard split systems, packaged systems, geothermal systems, etc.

It’s prudent to check out the new trends that are making inroads into the HVAC market. Zoning systems, for instance, help create different temperature zones within a single residential building. Smart HVAC systems controlled by mobile apps, ice-powered air-conditioning systems, and dual-fuel heat pumps should also pique your interest.

Of course, budget and efficiency also play a role since the cost of different systems is different. A geothermal HVAC system, for example, could be more expensive than certain other standard types. But it has its own pros and cons. An ice-powered air conditioning system that uses ice for cooling, in lieu of a traditional AC compressor, can reduce energy consumption by up to 30%3.

A certified HVAC vendor would have done all this homework, but it’s better to acquire the essential knowledge before handing over the responsibility.

Wrapping up …

Invariably, an investment in an HVAC system is huge. That doesn’t mean you need to opt for a low-cost option or count on an average HVAC system service provider. What matters is the efficiency of the system and the accuracy of installation. These aspects can be instrumental in minimizing energy consumption and keeping maintenance costs at bay.

When it comes to buying an HVAC system, it is safer to trust a bigger brand with a proven quality of service. The location, size of the system, complexity of installation and cost of maintenance are certainly some common factors that are to be considered while buying or upgrading an HVAC system. Alternatively, you can check with friends and relatives who have already upgraded their HVAC system.

Got questions related to civil, architectural, or structural engineering? Our team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services.

Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.


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