Common Air Conditioning Installation Violations and How to Avoid Them
HVAC installers provide an extremely valuable service: keeping them safe from the extreme heat and extreme cold of the seasons and helping them feel comfortable in their home or office. This job is especially important to the good people here in Texas who face indescribably hot conditions during the summer.
Not many people have the skills that heating and air conditioning installers have, making them a valuable member of the community they work in. As an HVAC professional, people will depend on you and the skills and expertise you possess to get them through the season.
It is for this reason that knowing 90% of air conditioning installations are done incorrectly is such a disheartening statistic. Even with all respect and expectations customers hold for the profession, almost every installation is not completed to the high standards that HVAC professionals were trained for and should hold themselves accountable to. To be frank, it is shameful.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way. As an incoming HVAC student, a recent graduate of The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating, or just someone who is interested in the profession, you have the power to buck this trend and learn from the mistakes of those that have come before you.
Here are six of the most common air conditioning violations that occur in the field so you can learn to avoid them.
No Installation Permit
Acquiring the proper permits prior to air conditioning should be one of the very first steps in the process, yet it is often overlooked by both parties involved in the installation: the customer and the contractor. Most homeowners will know they need permits for major home renovations, but many don’t realize that they need one for air conditioning installation as well.
Permits are important for a number of reasons. They not only ensure the safety of those working on the equipment, but they also ensure that the equipment being installed is up to energy and environmental standards. Contractors can obtain the necessary permits on behalf of the homeowner and they can also be obtained by the homeowner themselves.
Installing without permits is often overlooked by homeowners who don’t know and contractors who don’t care – but both should concern themselves about it. Installing an air conditioner without the proper permits isn’t just dangerous but can result in serious fines. As a HVAC contractor, never take an air conditioning installation job without the proper documentation first.
Failure to Perform Manual J, Manual S, or Manual D
No two air conditioning system installations are the same. Each and every system requires very precise calculations and adjustments to ensure they are working properly and efficiently for the environment they are being installed in. Three calculations of particular importance that need to be done with every single installation are Manual J, Manual S, and Manual D calculations. However, these calculations are not consistently done, or done correctly, during many air conditioner installations.
Manual J is a calculation that needs to be done to properly size the system to provide optimal cooling based on the size of the home it is being installed in along with other factors. An air conditioner installed in a larger home will need to be adjusted differently than one in a smaller house in order to keep every room and every person cool.
Manual S then considers the geographical location of the system and the average temperature highs it will have to perform in. Also known as design temperature, an air conditioner needs to be calibrated to effectively and efficiently work under the conditions it will experience 99% of the season.
Manual D builds off the previous calculations by determining the proper sizing of the ducts needed to properly distribute air without underworking or overperforming.
Not performing these calculations causes air conditioners to not perform efficiently. If the system is oversized it distributes too much air during each cycle which can spike energy usage and inflate monthly energy bills for the customer in addition to ineffectively controlling humidity. Undersized air conditioners will not be able to keep the customer cool. Both instances make for unhappy customers and the need for unnecessary service calls to correct the system’s settings.
Furnace flue pipe touching combustibles
It is a shame that this needs to be said time and again, but because this is one of the most common air conditioning installation violations done here it goes: never put something very hot in contact with something flammable or combustible!
Every HVAC system has a flue pipe that vents hot exhaust air outside of the home it is installed in. Not only is this air warm, it can also contain carbon monoxide, an odorless and tasteless gas that can be deadly if it is allowed to circulate into a home’s air supply. Proper ventilation of the flue is an important part of HVAC installation, but so is the proper installation and accounting for the surrounding area.
When installed in homes, flues are often installed around wood from the subfloor or the home’s frame, which can be inflamed by the warm air and hot metal duct if the proper clearances are not accounted for. Suficit to say this isn’t just a mistake that costs money to fix, it is a potentially deadly one.
Heating equipment is the number one cause of house fires in the U.S and accounted for 19% of house fire deaths from 2014 to 2018. When installing a flue pipe or servicing a piece of equipment that may cause you to move or adjust the pipe, make sure the proper safety measures are taken before you leave.
Service access to equipment not accessible
Air conditioners need regular care, attention, and servicing to ensure they run properly for as long as possible. However, servicing the system properly can be made much more difficult (both for you and anyone else who might work on it in the future) if it has not been installed with the proper accessibility.
Here is the long and short of the situation: if it is hard to get to the system it is going to be hard to service it. This means that minor, easy-to-fix issues can get overlooked and become serious ones, cleaning is harder to do thoroughly, and the healthy lifespan of the system can be drastically shortened.
When you are installing an air conditioning system, make sure you are following the proper NEC guidelines for working space of three feet on each side of the equipment. This will allow that yourself and anyone else who needs to work on it has proper access.
Air conditioning installation isn’t always done right. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Understanding where other installers fall short is the first step in training a new generation of air conditioning installers who are hard working, thorough, and masters of the trade.
That is our mission here at the Training Center of Heating and Air Conditioning. We are based in Houston, Texas and our founder Chris Walters spent his HVAC career practicing in Texas. Through our experiences working in this industry in this state, we know exactly what our students need to know in order to have a successful career upon graduation.
If you are interested in beginning your HVAC career with the best training available, learn more about our upcoming classes and get started today!