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Various Factors That May Affect HVAC Replacement Estimates

If you’re seeking to replace your current air conditioner or upgrade your home’s furnace, obtaining estimates from reputable HVAC companies or contractors is one of the important details you need to take care of. This is an important step if you want to achieve savings during this home improvement project.



Ideally, you should get at least three or four of these estimates. By comparing them, you can carefully plan out your budget while encouraging the pros to be competitive with their pricing. The latter point is especially crucial if you take into account the fact that more than three-fourths of U.S. homes use ACs and almost all new homes are built with centralized air systems. Of course, you have to understand the unique variables that come with each estimate, as well as the reasons why they may differ from one another.


Today, local HVAC service provider Applied Air Mechanical, LLC explains the various factors that may affect HVAC replacement estimates. We also take a look at the reasons why quotes vary, as well as provide you with things to keep in mind as you make your comparisons.


Factors That May Influence an HVAC Replacement Estimate


The estimated cost of an HVAC replacement may vary depending on certain factors specific to your home and location. For a contractor to arrive at an estimate, they’ll first visit your property to make certain assessments before they advise you on the correct size and type of HVAC system to purchase and any additional services that need to be done before the actual replacement project.


These assessments, including the measurement of your home’s square footage and calculations for potential load, are based on these factors:


Local climate. The climate in your local region may change depending on the time of year and your location within the U.S. If you live down south, your home will require an air conditioning unit that’s correctly sized to provide adequate cooling during hot and humid summers. If you live up north, your home will require a unit with much greater heating capacity to ensure indoor comfort during frigid winters.


Condition of the entire duct network. Since you’re going to replace your air conditioning system, it’s surmised that your home already has ducts installed to distribute cool air to every area of your home. AC installation pros may recommend that you either have repairs performed or completely replace the ductwork, depending on its efficiency. The price pegged for this item in the estimate may vary or alter based on the level of complexity of the installation, thus affecting the total cost of the replacement project.


Your home’s age and construction. The type of HVAC replacement unit that will be installed in your home will depend on the size of your house and the level of insulation. Bigger equipment is required if you live in a larger home, and this will impact the costs indicated in your estimates. The HVAC pros will also check if you have energy-efficient windows that are well-insulated and sealed. If so, your home can make do with a heating or cooling system that requires far less capacity to maintain a comfortable temperature.


Features of the HVAC replacement unit. Trustworthy HVAC contractors won’t just provide you with estimates: they’ll also fill you in on the features your replacement unit will have. Typically, HVAC units with a high price point have higher energy efficiency levels. In heat pumps,this is expressed through HSPF, or “heating seasonal performance factor” ratings, and in air conditioners through SEER, or “seasonal energy efficiency ratio” ratings. The estimated total costs may also be affected by the unit’s size and brand. Better brands, while costing more upfront, tend to have longer lifespans, be covered by better warranties and be equipped with smarter technologies.


Two Extremes on Your Estimates


During the HVAC replacement process, you might make the assumption that the unit that will replace the old system will be the same in terms of size. You may also think that the cost of the HVAC replacement will be close to the cost of the initial installation. In both instances, it could be the other way around. The availability and quality of your new HVAC equipment might also be affected by technological advancements, market changes, manufacturer costs and new climate standards. In this regard, the estimates could fall in either one of two extremes: too high or too low.


Understanding the factors behind extremely high or low estimates allows you to avoid making costly mistakes. Here’s what you need to know about each possibility:


Extremely High Estimates


An extremely high estimate could mean that particular HVAC contractor has more equipment and overhead. In addition, some HVAC systems have far better hardware and other features than others, which will also affect the estimate. Be sure you research the heat pump, air conditioner or furnace replacement that best suits your home and needs.


An estimate could be too high because of the included warranties. Most contractors offer manufacturer warranties protecting homeowners from faulty equipment. Additional warranties may cover the installation and potential damage to the unit that may occur within a certain timeframe. Discuss this aspect of the estimate with your contractor just to be sure of what’s written in the fine print.


Another reason for an extremely high estimate could be the presence of hidden costs. These fall under incidentals, which cover other related items like the cost of securing permits and potential fines. If these don’t appear in your estimate, don’t hesitate to ask your contractor for a revision. Remember that the estimate must contain a breakdown of everything about your HVAC replacement project, including the local or federal regulations that apply to your project. After all, you don’t want a situation where the contractor gets flagged by the Department of Energy for installing a cooling system with less than the minimum standard SEER rating of 13.


Extremely Low Estimates


If, however, you encounter an extremely low estimate, watch out; the contractor might not be carrying insurance. If you work with one that doesn’t have this minimal requirement, you may be held responsible for any accidental injuries or property damage that occur during an HVAC replacement project. Avoid this situation by comparing estimates coming from licensed and insured contractors in your area.


Also, a contractor providing an estimate that’s too low is likely to lack the knowledge and awareness of prevailing local policies and applicable incentives from the local to federal level. They’ll probably leave this part to the customers just so they can skimp on paperwork, lowering their fees in turn. On the other hand, a reliable contractor will guide you through this process. Using their years of experience and expertise, they’ll make sure that the HVAC replacement unit complies with the energy regulations outlined for your area or region so you can maximize your return on investment.


Things to Keep in Mind When Comparing Estimates


An HVAC replacement estimate should be transparent, comprehensive and even lengthy. Consider how it’s presented—are the particulars itemized with the corresponding information or price? A good contractor will see to it that everything written on the estimate is placed there in a well-organized manner. If it’s not, you can always ask for a revised version.


No matter how high or low the estimates you receive, be sure to check them for any errors. Human error, although rare, can occur when noting the accompanying costs of the HVAC replacement. Every time you receive an estimate from prospective contractors, always ask questions and relay any concerns to each one if you aren’t sure about a specific detail.


For your cooling and heating installation needs, turn to Applied Air Mechanical, LLC. We offer residential and commercial HVAC services for home and business owners in the local area. Learn more about how we can help you with your repair, replacement and maintenance needs by calling (707) 689-8141.


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