The HVAC industry is full of vague and overused information. Unfortunately, a lot of this information is outdated, inaccurate, or just flat-out wrong to the point of being trite and irritating to other technicians in the field who are trying to do the right thing. In this blog post, we’ll dispel some of the most common myths and cliches about HVAC so that you can be better informed about your home’s heating and cooling needs. Here are 14 HVAC Clichés to Avoid from HVAC salespeople and their unoriginal myths.
“R-22 is illegal.” – No, R-22 is not illegal. Now, I will tell you this – it’s not getting any cheaper. The price of R-22 rose about 400% in the two years following COVID-19 with no end in sight. As the current supply of virgin R-22 diminishes, old, recovered R-22 from existing decommissioned units is being cleaned and recycled for future use. You have to consider that the last R-22 complete systems were installed around 2010. Systems are designed to last about 15 to 20 years. So, R-22 or a less expensive substitute refrigerant like r-458a (Bluon) will be around at least until 2030.
The only time owning R-22 could land you in legal trouble is if you use it in a way that violates other laws. For example, if you were to release R-22 into the atmosphere without a permit, you could be fined under the Clean Air Act. Or, if you were to purchase R-22 from an illegal source, such as a contraband market, you could be charged with trafficking or dealing with illegal substances.
I’m not saying a bigger system isn’t right for your house, but there are some factors I would consider when considering the move to a bigger system:
Your air ducts are sized for the sized system you have now. If you get a bigger system, you can really affect the system’s static pressure. Static pressure is like the blood pressure in your body. If your heart was too big for your body, it could cause complications with your blood pressure, right? Well, it’s the same with the static pressure of your HVAC system. The bigger air conditioner and its compressor won’t be able to operate under the same comfortable conditions as it would if it was properly sized. This will lead to early system failures of your new HVAC system.
If you’re an HVAC technician watching this video, don’t just go into the house and say, “Oh yeah, you’ve got a 2.5-ton system in your house, so that’s what we’re going to go back with.” You MIGHT BE going back with that same size system, but at least know for sure that’s what size your customer needs by doing a proper load calculation of the house and its surroundings. An HVAC system is one of the most expensive things people buy for their homes. It would be devastating to buy too small or too large a system. You want to really get it just right!
My co-worker Keith says it best. “If I tell you it’s going to break down in three months, it’ll last for three more years. If I tell you it’ll last for three more years, it’ll break down tomorrow.” In times like these, you need to consider repair vs. replacement costs. Does it make sense for you to repair it? Is it less than, say, 15 years old? Maye a repair is in order if you’re hoping to keep it going for a few more years. Is it more than 15? You may want to think about it longer and decide what’s best for you. Regardless, if a part breaks down the road, and a universal or OEM part is still available, you can repair it all day.
So…(shrug) does it still work? Outdoor parts are prone to rust. Heat exchangers in gas furnaces are prone to rust. On heat exchangers, rust is not a reason to condemn the furnace. Is there an actual breach or crack in the heat exchanger? Then replace it (if it’s available. Systems 20 years or older tend not to have replacement heat exchangers) or buy a new system. Rust on your AC coil is not a repair that needs to be made. Nor is it an indicator that your AC will fail or spring a leak any time soon.
Almost every part of the air conditioning system has a replacement part available for it. It might take a while to get it, but if the system is less than 20 years old, there’s likely a part for it. There are also “universal parts” available for a lot of systems. That may not be so if it’s an upgraded higher efficiency system. Standard one and two-stage systems have a better chance of having universal parts available, but not the variable-speed ones. I would get a second opinion if I didn’t feel sure about the technician. Most companies do that for free.
“Okay, show me.” That’s what I would say. Mold can be a big problem when it comes to HVAC systems. You run the risk of the mold spreading and causing serious health problems if it’s really there. If an HVAC technician tells you that your system has mold, ask them to show you the mold. If they can’t show you the mold, that’s a red flag. If it is in your ducts, for sure, you want to solve that issue. I just find that some technicians mistake a light film of dust inside the duct as mold. Have them take a picture of it, and you decide what you want to do about it. A second opinion, perhaps? You can either leave it, go with duct cleaning, or you can replace the duct(s).
Systems are designed to last how long? 15 to 20 years. Just because the unit is passed that age doesn’t mean you have to buy a new system. As we’ve said before, the system can be repaired as long as parts are available. When a technician tells you that your system is past its life expectancy, you may wonder if you should believe them. It can be costly to replace a system, and you may not be ready to do so. But there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the life expectancy of a system is based on normal use of 15 to 20 years. If you have been using your system excessively or have not been properly maintaining it, the unit may not last as long as expected—maybe 12 to 15 years.
Additionally, new technology is constantly emerging, and systems that are just a few years old may already be outdated. What does that mean to you? It’s just important to weigh all of these factors before making a decision. Ultimately, only you can decide whether to replace your system, but it is important to get all the information before making a decision.
This is another one where I probably would get a second opinion from a reputable company. I can’t tell you how many times another company has condemned a system and suggested a replacement. Then the customer calls us for a second opinion, and we find some minor (or major) repair that can be done to help the customer extend the life of their system.
There’s a common misconception that once a system is no longer under warranty, it’s impossible to get parts or repairs. This simply isn’t true. Just because a system is out of warranty doesn’t mean it can’t be repaired – in most cases, it just means that the company no longer has to foot the bill. Parts are almost always available for purchase, even for older models. And while the company may not o
ffer repairs themselves, there are always independent service providers who specialize in out-of-warranty repairs. So, if you’re told that your 11-year-old system can’t be fixed, don’t believe it! There’s a good chance that with a little effort, you’ll be able to find a company that will get it up and running again.
HVAC companies have a reputation for being dishonest. After all, they’re in the business of selling new systems, not repairing old ones. So, when your HVAC system breaks down, it’s only natural to suspect that the company is trying to take advantage of you. However, you shouldn’t necessarily believe everything that an HVAC company says. Just because they want to sell you a new system doesn’t mean that it’s not worth repairing the old one. In many cases, repairs are more cost-effective than replacements. So, before making any decisions, get a second opinion from another HVAC company. You might be surprised at how much money you can save by simply repairing your existing system.
Air conditioners have come a long way in recent years, and many models are now much more efficient than older units. Does that mean you have to upgrade now? Not necessarily. If you’ve gotten anything from this blog, it’s that some people aren’t ready to fork over the money for a new, more efficient system. They don’t know your budget. They don’t know your finances and where you are in life right now. They do know how much commission they’ll make off selling you a new system, though! Don’t get me wrong, my company sells equipment, and we do a great job of replacing systems in the Sacramento area. I just try to reinforce a culture of repairing if the customer wants to repair and replace if the customer wants to replace. If the customer wants to repair and discuss replacement options at the same time, great, let’s do that. Nobody should make you feel pressured into replacing it until you’re ready to replace it.
What!? Okay, we have told people who tell us that their system has iced up and is not blowing cool air anymore to go ahead and shut it off and wait for us to come to turn it back on. In that case, turn your system off and let the ice melt so that that technician can be more efficient in getting you cooling again. The technician wants to see what your refrigerant charge looks like. And your system must be ice-free to check your charge. And obviously, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t touch it, right? But saying this is just another scare tactic to make you think the system is near the end of its life. Very likely, the next conversation with the tech who says this will be one regarding buying a new system.
“Why? Can I see a picture of them so I can decide for myself?” That is probably my first question. There are a few reasons why it’s cliché for hvac companies to tell customers that they need to have their air ducts cleaned. First, it’s an easy way for the company to upsell a service that may not be necessary. Second, it’s a way to scare customers into thinking that their homes are full of dirt and dust. Finally, it’s simply not true that air ducts need to be cleaned on a regular basis. In most cases, they can be left alone and continue functioning properly. So, while it may be cliché, there’s no need to take the advice of hvac companies when it comes to air duct cleaning.
Now one thing I do feel passionately about is when people first move into a home, it’s worth getting the ducts cleaned, assuming they have even a fine liner of dust on them. I personally feel like that residual dust and dirt, skin, hair, and nails that may have been sucked into the central air conditioning system by the last family living there will now become part of your air stream for the future. So just like getting a good house cleaning when you move into a house, cleaning ducts that are in good shape is worth it.
I tell people your ductwork’s life averages about 30 to 50 years. Some people replace them every time they get a new system, but most of the people I sell equipment to don’t. That’s because, for them, at that point in their ductwork’s lifespan, it’s impractical to do so. You don’t have to replace every duct in your house to get better air to one or two rooms. Those rooms can have more airflow delivered by increasing the size of the duct leading to the room. Another way to get more air to a room is to relocate the duct on the supply plenum to a more advantageous spot. Typically, near the end of the plenum. Yes, the higher R-value of the ductwork, the better performance you’ll have. The ductwork will hold the hot or cold air it’s delivering inside it better. That translates to cooler or warmer air in your rooms, depending on the season. Yet another expense to consider regarding your air conditioning system.
14 HVAC Clichés Conclusion
There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to HVAC systems. These are them most common 14 HVAC clichés. You should just consider if they are pushing high-priced tickets on you to pad their own pockets. A lot of technicians in the HVAC industry are paid a straight commission for what they sell. And that’s how they put food on the table. Other companies (and I’m not trying to toot my own horn) pay their techs a good enough salary that they don’t push these highly used cliches to get you to buy a new system.
We hope this blog post has helped dispel some of the most common 14 HVAC clichés and myths about these systems so that you can be better informed about your home’s heating and cooling needs. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Fox Family Heating & Air!