John Giacalone on Facebook
2 months ago
07/08/2021, 13:05 PM
I called LaCounte and iAirServices to fix a new install job by another company that went horribly wrong.
They were professional, thorough, detail oriented and fixed everything that was not right with the previous install. They were able to increase the amount of air flow, make the temperature 5 to 6 degrees cooler, make everything nice and up to code, and significantly reduce the static pressure.
If you are thinking of getting a new AC call these guys. They pay 100% attention to detail and will make sure it is done right to the specs of manufactures installation guide. There is a major difference between having a single AC technician installing your unit vs and installation crew where people are specialized. You will not have to worry about your install being done correctly.
They might be a tad bit more expensive, but I assure you that investment will go a long way in having your unit installed correctly and having ZERO corners cut.
Long Version (it’s worth the read)
After the crazy cold winter we had this year, my wife was done with our current system. That system was a Lennox that was 100% electric. Nothing wrong with Lennox, but a 100% electric heater is terribly inefficient, doesn’t heat well, and is super expensive. It also runs on 220v so there is no way to get smaller generator to run the system. Now, I am talking 2000-3000 watt generators.
Anyway, we decided to get 4 quotes from various local AC companies to 1) install a new AC system with a GAS Furnace 2) to relocate to existing system from the garage into the attic so we can regain valuable garage floor space. All the companies we had out were really within a few thousand dollars of each other.
We wanted a 16 seer, 3 ton, 2 stage ( to pull extra humidity out), 80% gas furnace system. Each AC company had their brand and we got quotes for the following systems: Carrier, Bryant, Amana, Rheem. Anyway, we choose to go with Amana because it had a good warranty and the person doing the install was “our AC guy” who had fixed our units at our current residence over the last 5 years. Each company had fantastic Yelp and Nextdoor followers.
So “our AC guy” installs the system, which is another story, but I don’t want it to distract from what LaCounte and iAirServices did. Long story short here, after a month or so, it got hot in June after or torrential rain May. Temperatures were reaching 100. Our brand-new system could not cool the house below 76 degrees on one hot Saturday and I noticed that the return / supply split was about 12 degrees. Which means that the supply air (cold air) coming out was only 12 degrees cooler than the intake (return air). Industry standard from what most folks say is 18-22 degrees. Another words, it did not work right. So, I went up into the attic and noticed that the plenum and duct work was terrible at best. It had holes, cold air escaping into the attic etc. At night when the sun went down, the split was 16-17 degrees.
So, I called 3 AC companies in the area to look and see what they noticed. 2 basically said that the duct/plenum would need to be redone as the original workmanship was absolutely appalling. However, I decided to reach out to LaCounte and iAirServices because when I posted about this on NextDoor asking for advice, he chimed in seem to have some good insight. Anyway, I ask if he could stop over and look.
When LaCounte stopped by, he did a deep dive into the system. Yes, he noticed that the plenum and duct work were terrible, but he also mentioned that the furnace and evaporator coil were not aligned and a bunch of other things that were not done right. He takes a ton of photos and give me a ballpark figure of what he’s thinking and says he will do more research and get back to me. LaCounte goes home and probably spends several hours researching this Amana system. They sell Carrier so while he understands ACs, each manufacture is different. Anyway, he reads the installation manual for the furnace and condenser and whatever else he can find and discovers that the furnace and evaporator coil isn’t even installed correctly. He sends me a text telling me that the only picture in the install instructions that says do not do this is what was done.
Wow! LaCounte took the time to read the freaking install manuals and do a deep dive! He noticed all kinds of thing wrong. Unfortunately, it would not be cheap to fix, but his attention to detail tells me that it would be done correctly and his crew would do a fantastic job.
Now, LaCounte and iAirServices could have easily walked away from this job. Afterall, they could have likely made more money doing a new install and after all this was someone else’s mess they were walking into. But they had confidence in their HVAC crew to get this right. When they did a pre static test it was at 1.4. Yeah, it basically means that air isn’t flowing through the system correctly and there is back pressure. As a matter of fact, prefix you could clearly feel cold air coming out of the sides of the furnace.
Oh and iAirServices discovered that the furnace and condenser were mismatched units. They offered a quote to replace it with one that matched, but we decide to get this one to work the best it could.
We scheduled and they came out did the following (and probably more) :
1) Increase the return plenum for proper rebound zone.
2) Increase the supply plenum from 4’ with a terrible workman ship to 8’ with something picture worthy. Note: having a larger supply plenum is important part of duct design and helps with air flow.
3) Increase a return duct size to get appropriate return air,
4) Straighten existing duct work to remove restrictions.
5) Install furnace and evaporator coil per instructions. This is where they fixed specifically what the instructions said not to do.
6) Fix the electrical wiring outside to meet code.
7) Fixed the low voltage wiring to the outside unit that had the protective insulation worn off. This probably saved me an electrical short and thousands of dollars of damage a year or so down the road.
8) Sealed/glue the condensate pvc drain line. Seriously, the original installer did not even do this?
9) Moved the air scrubber to the supply side of the unit so I will work more effectively.
10) Remove all refrigerant, vacuum, pressure test and retest the unit to make sure there was nothing bad in the line.
11) Fixed furnace exhaust pipe to go to the right direction.
12) Fixed furnace exhaust to go to correct size outlet.
At the end of the day the static pressure decreased from 1.4 to .9 with more air flow and a 5-6 degree temperature drop but LaCount wants the static pressure number better/lower.
So they are going to come back and increase some of the supply ducts in our bedroom and living room because they are undersized and are not getting appropriate air to them.
The crew itself fast, efficient, courteous, meticulous, and cared about the craftsmanship. Heck, they even vacuumed up in the attic. Yup – that is right. They cleaned up after themselves very well and even cleaned up their mess in the attic.
These guys are installation artists. LaCounte, his crew, and iAirServices care about quality and will not cut corners. If you need a new AC, call them. You will know that everything will be done right and if something isn’t 100% right they will fix it. And they will be transparent… LaCounte said he is not happy with the static pressure number and they will come back to fix it by increasing duct size.
If you purchase a new AC system, say a 16 SEER, and the install job is so terrible like mine was, it does not operate at 16 Seer. TBH, I would be lucky if the original installation were as effective as a 11 or 12 seer unit.
I am curious to see how this system will handle a 105 degree day, but I suspect it will do quite well. I am lucky to have found these guys to help get us out of a mess. Learn from my mistake and call them first.