Ineffective Installation: HVAC Performance Suffers When Poorly Handled

HVAC Performance Suffers When Poorly HandledHow efficient is your HVAC unit? According to a recent NIST study, you could spend 30 percent more heating and cooling your home or business if an HVAC system isn’t properly installed. Is it possible to avoid paying more for less?

Seven Deadly Signs

As reported by Phys.Org, common installation errors can lead to serious consequences in the long term for HVAC units. For example, stated energy efficiency ratings can be significantly compromised, and in some cases degraded equipment performance can lead to premature failure. The study lists seven common errors:

  • Improper Airflow Rate: Could be caused by leaky ducts or blockages within the system. Lowered airflow means less heating and cooling to needed areas, in turn causing the unit to run longer than necessary.
  • Refrigerant Undercharge: Not enough refrigerant means cooling won’t happen as quickly, and on extremely hot days could result in ideal temperatures not being reached.
  • Refrigerant Overcharage: Too much of a good thing. Could freeze the lines or cause excess strain on the unit.
  • Improper Liquid Line Refrigerant Subcooling: General indication of improper charging. If this happens consistently, it could lower the lifespan of your HVAC system.
  • Presence of Non-condensible Gases: Causes when lines are not properly pressure set. Worst case scenario? Line blow-out.
  • Improper Electric Line Voltlage: To little and the unit won’t perform up to spec. Too much and it could cause a short.
  • TXV Undersizing, Cooling: Too small a unit for the space and cooling becomes inefficient.

Of all the faults listed, leaky ducts were found to be the most common, and the study found that “with a few exceptions, simultaneous faults have additive effects on energy consumption.”

Getting It Right

So how do you make sure an HVAC system is properly installed the first time? The NIST report recommends following industry-standard guidelines for heating and cooling—buying bigger than you need doesn’t increase efficiency, and buying smaller than required won’t save money.

In addition, it’s important to use a licensed, well-reviewed installation service to handle any HVAC install or maintenance. And while it’s often tempting to ignore regular checkups or service call-outs when your unit is in working order, thorough cleaning and periodic inspections are key to ensuring long-term efficiency. Even a perfect install can degrade over time; violent storms, power surges, or typical wear-and-tear can cause leaky ducts or refrigerant leakage. Preventing these HVAC problems requires a proactive approach and attention to detail.

Installed improperly, HVAC units are inefficient energy hogs. Avoid the seven deadly signs of HVAC with a professional install and regularly scheduled maintenance.

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