''Of the 7.1 million unitary shipments reported by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) for 2006, approximately 60% were for replacements. Many of these installations were the result of equipment failures during peak periods (i.e., winter for furnaces and summer for air conditioners),'' says the HVAC Quality Installation Specification, a manual provided by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA).
Since equipment failures tend to happen during peak periods, there are often shortages of qualified technicians, and since customers often want the heating or cooling to be restored quickly, technicians feel the pressure to provide the minimal required service to do the job. This opens the door for less-qualified technicians to earn business, who may charge a smaller price but do a subpar job, giving other more-qualified technicians a bad name.
''There is a need to establish a raised bar to improve the core competencies of contractors to ensure that quality installations ensue. This is beneficial not only as a process improvement for contracting businesses but, more importantly, for fulfilling the needs of building owners/operators in quality installations — comfortable, healthy, safe, energy-efficient indoor environments,'' the ACCA specification document says.
The ACCA, which developed the specification in 2007, has partnered with Energy Star, a government program that provides information to HVAC specialists and homeowners about how to make homes more energy efficient. In addition to replacing old furnaces, HVAC technicians can inform homeowners that they can save a lot of money by insulating their heating and air conditioning ducts as well as by sealing windows and doors.
The new ACCA specification provides the industry with a universally accepted definition of a quality contractor or a quality HVAC installation and is used as a measuring stick by manufacturers, distributors, contractors, user groups, customers, utilities, environmental groups, associations/professional societies, and governmental agencies.