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Not all air conditioner installation jobs are equal. With these basic tips you can feel confident about yours! It is a good idea to have the installer walk around the job with you to look at these things. It is better to check them while the company representative is there so that issues can be quickly be resolved. Most unit manufacturers require the installing company to pay for the labor for repairs within the first month after installation.
Our top twelve things to check will give you a reasonable sense of the quality of the installer's work.
If you are walking through the job with the installing technician, you can point out these things and help to make them better at their job.
1. The outdoor unit should be level. This is important for proper distribution of oil for lubricating the compressor as well as for looks.
2. The outdoor unit should have a pad under it that is made of hardened plastic or concrete. This is to provide a solid base for the unit.
3. The outdoor unit should be about 1 foot away from the house. This is to allow proper air circulation through the condensing unit. Without proper airflow, the unit will have higher operating pressures which will use more electricity and also cause more wear and tear on the unit.
4. There should be a refrigerant filter/drier in the system. This will look like a metal can surrounding the smaller refrigerant line. If you do not see one on the lines outside the unit, look on the inside of the unit as many brands now include them from the factory. This is important to ensure that there is no moisture inside the refrigerant system. Moisture, when combined with refrigerant and elevated temperatures can produce an acid. This acid can cause leaks in the system over time and costly repairs.
5. There should be an electrical disconnect within 3 feet of the outdoor unit. This is an important safety requirement for repairs, maintenance, and emergency situations. It is required by most residential and commercial building codes.
6. There should not be any scraps or trash from the installation left laying around. Someone that does not pay attention to the small things is likely to perform a sub-standard air conditioner installation.
7. The large copper line running from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit should be insulated and there should not be any tears in the foam insulation. This is important for maintaining efficiency as well as for proper compressor operation.
8. The copper lines should be supported about every 4 feet. Ensure that there are no sagging places in the lines. A sagging line can trap oil that is needed to lubricate the compressor. If the compressor does not have sufficient oil, it will fail.
9. The copper lines should be as short as possible.
10. Normally the copper lines should be the same size as the connections on the unit. If not, ask why and ensure you understand the reason.
11. Both the main and emergency drain connections on the indoor coil should be connected to a suitable drain.
12. Run the system through a complete cooling cycle to ensure it works properly. During this time, it is a good idea to check the temperature drop across the evaporator coil. This is done by measuring the temperature of the air in the main supply duct and subtracting it from the temperature of the air entering the furnace/air handler. (On a modern high efficiency unit, this should be around 12 to 14 degrees)
If the air conditioner installation passes these twelve checks, you can be confident that the system will operate efficiently and last a good long time.