For those of you who read this feature regularly or have attended one of our workshops, you know that one of my primary concerns is the lack of quality heating and air conditioning work currently being done in our community. My goal is to educate homeowners so they can make an informed choice before they sign a contract for this type of work.

Finding a heating and air conditioning contractor who will follow the rules can be a difficult task. Many homeowners don’t know that a permit is required whenever a licensed contractor does any work that will cost more than $500. The permit ensures that your local Building and Safety Department will inspect the installation to make certain that the work has been performed to code.

Unfortunately for homeowners, there are many areas over which the inspectors have no jurisdiction.

One such area is duct sizing. Each room in your home requires a particular amount of air to cool or heat it properly. In addition, every duct size delivers a specific amount of air. If the ducts that deliver the air to your home are not sized properly, the system will not perform as designed. The system could be noisy, may not deliver the rated capacity, will cost more to operate, and probably won’t last as long.

How can homeowners be expected to know if the ducts are sized correctly? Well, there is an industry accepted formula know as a Manual J Load Calculation, which determines the exact size of the equipment needed and the correct duct sizing. A reputable contractor will conduct this calculation. Make sure you see a copy of this report. It is the key to proper duct sizing.

So my suggestion, as always, is to hire reputable contractors whose goal is to do a quality job. Check their standing with the California State Contractors License Board. Make sure they have Workers’ Compensation and Liability Insurance, and that their policies are in effect. Check some of their current jobs. Is the jobsite neat and clean? Is the customer pleased with how their job is going? This is a good indication of how the company will perform at your home.

It may be challenging to choose a contractor whose price is higher than others. However, quality work will usually cost more initially, but will pay big dividends on a system that should be around for 20 years or more.

We will be discussing new heating and cooling products at our next Homeowners Workshop on February 18, 2006. All questions will be addressed, so bring your list. There is no cost, so bring your friends, neighbors and relatives. If you are interested in attending, call Alex at (818) 886-2600 to make a reservation. Join us for a couple of hours and you’ll take home some useful information.

Jim Berry was a heating and air conditioning service technician prior to becoming a Sales Consultant for Kahn Air Conditioning. Kahn hosts free monthly workshops to help homeowners learn more about heating and cooling systems. For questions regarding heating or air conditioning, send an e-mail to Jim at

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