I hope that 2004 was a good year for all of you, and I wish you good luck, and good health, throughout the upcoming year. During this past year, I have analyzed several hundred heating and cooling systems. I truly don’t enjoy telling a homeowner that their old heating or cooling system needs to be replaced. It’s even less enjoyable when the equipment hasn’t lasted as long as it should have. This may be due to a poor installation, an inferior product, or even a quality brand that had been installed without regard for proper installation techniques.

There are a variety of brands on the market. Certainly some are constructed better than others. However, a quality brand should last longer than an inexpensive product, although generally speaking, if each installation were done in exactly the same way, each system would last about the same amount of time.

Ah, but there’s the rub. All systems are not installed in the same way. Some “contractors” cut corners. Some may install bargain brands without regard for accepted industry practices. Some installers will never crack open the installation manual to look at the manufacturers’ requirements regarding the proper way to install their equipment. Some contractors may not advise you about replacing other components whenever another part of your system is replaced. Why do they do business this way? The simple answer is so that they can give you the cheapest bid, and have you spend your money with them, instead of with a reputable contractor whose price may have been a little higher, but who would have done the work correctly, as the manufacturer suggested.

This concerns me as a salesperson, and as a homeowner. In today’s world, it can be difficult to find people who live up to their word. It can be tough to find reputable contractors who will actually do what they said that they would, and also do all of the things that they were supposed to. There are a handful (this may be an exaggeration) of contractors in our area who do work the “right” way. They are the ones whose price may be a little higher than the “cheap bid”. But, they are also the ones who will advise you, and give you their best recommendations about replacing your heating and cooling system. They’re out there, if you know what to look for.

As always, choose a licensed contractor, and make sure permits are obtained. Check with The California State Contractors License Board to verify the information of any contractor that you are thinking of using. Due to the Holiday Season, our next Homeowners Workshop will be held on January 29, 2005. Happy Holidays!

Jim Berry was a heating and air conditioning service technician, and is now a Sales Consultant for Kahn Air Conditioning, and a member of the Chambers’ Home Improvement Cluster. Kahn hosts free monthly workshops to help homeowners learn about their heating and cooling systems.
Any questions call (818) 886-2600, or e-mail; jberry@kahnair.com.

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