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Orlando Air Conditioning HVAC System Replacement, Things to Know

Orlando, Florida residents looking for a new or replacement air-conditioning system really need to do some homework. Please keep in mind that Florida HVAC units really NEVER stop working.  They are used for cool air in summer and warm air in winter.  Therefore, the best price is definitely not always the best deal.  all words/terms used to educate and in some cases to confuse use you.  Florida is full of great and fair contractors.  However, your best friend is information.  First some terms and what they mean…

 

SEER: is the ratio of the cooling output of an air conditioner over a typical cooling season, divided by the energy it consumed in Watt-Hours.   (Minimum Seer in Florida is 14 but you can buy a unit up to 21 or 25.  Higher SEER value means more efficiency and a lower electrical bill)

 

BTU: British Thermal Units, is a traditional unit of heat; it is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit

(12,000 btu equals one ton)

 

 

Ton or Tonnage: is the cooling capacity of an air conditioning system. One ton is equal to the amount of heat required (288,000 Btu) to melt one ton of ice in a 24-hour period. A one-ton air conditioner is rated at 12,000 Btu per hour (288,000/24). A two-ton unit would be rated at 24,000 Btu per hour.  (as you add more square footage, your tonnage should rise- at approx. 450-550 sq ft per ton)

When discussing a new or replacement system you want to have the SEER and TON RATINGS, in writing, on your proposal. You will use this information to help compare one contractor to the next.  It is also important to VERIFY this information once the contractor has installed the equipment.  Unfortunately, not everyone remembers what they promised 🙂 .

 

BRANDS to consider (pricing will vary with model, SEER, features, etc…)

 

 

Companies (objective list of popular companies in Orlando Market- no affiliations)

 

 

 

Bidding

When bidding an air conditioning system, it is wise have a list of questions for your contractors.  This helps to keep the bids apples to apples and creates a level playing field for all.  It also shows the contractor that this is a serious process and not just a quick-quote.  These are some good questions to ask…

 

 

Energy Star Rated?

Licensed, bonded and insured? (if small operator, verify these)

How will you measure my home? Manual J?

Will the indoor and outdoor units be matched brands and capacity?

New refrigerant lines?

Will you inspect my ductwork for capacity and wear/tear?

Will you supply a programmable thermostat?  SMART type?

Will you consider and suggest adding zones?

Will you help facilitate any equipment rebates?

Proper disposal of existing equipment and refrigerant?

Offer proper commissioning of system?  (how to use, change filters, exchange manuals, proper maintenance schedule for the future, etc..)

Offer warranty service and for how long post install (in writing)?

What is payment schedule? (never make full payment until complete)

 

 

Opinion

 

Our entire office (all Central Florida natives) agreed upon these action points when considering a new or replacement AC system

 

  • Speak to your friends/neighbors about contractors
    • Experience counts
  • Consider using Angie’s List (now free to join)
    • You can’t fake good reviews
  • Use a larger company that has an internet presence
    • They won’t want an issue to surface
  • Consider longevity/quality vs. price
    • Pay now or pay later

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Our Orlando plumbing leak story!

Recently, we had a real plumbing leak disaster in our Windermere, Florida home.  Here is the nutshell version of the story with some real life advice to help others in similar situations…

Toilet Flange

Employee of Advanced Drying Systems pictured

Our daughters bathroom developed a decent leak due to a poorly installed toilet flange.  The toilet never seated properly and recently started leaking, causing a moderate amount of damage to the bathroom and our garage ceiling below.  We hired Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL to remediate.  A professional water-dry company does just that, they dry everything out in hopes that mold will not occur.  We originally wanted to keep the responding company’s identity anonymous however, as this situation was negligence, in our opinion,  but the intent was not malicious.  They removed the toilet, cut the sheet-rock, added some fans to help dry the area.

 

Pex Piping

Our home is newer, built in 2001.  Therefore the house is fully equipped with pex pipe.  Pex is a very chem-resistant flexible water pipe.  It is easier to install and will not become brittle like PVC type pipes will over time.  The only caveat is that the fittings are very specific,  require special tools and are not compatible with PVC or C-PVC fittings. This is not your old “blue-glue”  type piping.

Moving along

In the process of drying the bathroom, Advanced Drying Systems Incorporated, Tampa, FL (not a licensed plumber)decided the vanity had to be removed, although it was not wet or damaged.  They decided to cut the plumbing valves off completely, remove the vanity and then cap the open pipes (sounds like a good plan).  –You must be a licensed plumber or work for a licensed plumber to do this btw and a permit should be issued by Orange County, Florida– Well, the workers did as they described.  They used PVC cement to attach C-PVC caps to pex style plumbing without letting us know these details.

What happens next

Cap formerly attached to Pex Pipe

Well, that night as our lovely daughter slept in her bed-room the water was pushing on those ill-fated plumbing caps.  Eventually one of them let loose!!  This pipe, we estimate, pumped between 750 and 1000 gals of water into our daughters bathroom, bedroom, hall and our garage before we found out!

 

 

 

CPVC CAP

 

 

 

 

 

Damages

Damaged Garage

Between, the bathroom, the bedroom, hallway, personal effects, garage and exterior we experienced roughly $80,000.00 worth of damage due the negligence of the water-dry company!  We hired Serv-Pro of Orlando to remediate this damage and have to say they did a fantastic job!!  Kept us informed all the way, let us know what they can and can’t do and the pricing was very fair.  BTW, they informed us that a water-dry company touching any of our plumbing would not be appropriate in any situation!

 

 

 

 

Takeaways

  1. Be involved through the process, DON’T ASSUME
  2. Know what type of plumbing your home has (PVC, C-PVC, Copper, Pex, etc…)
  3. Select contractors on reputation, not value for critical systems/issues
  4. Trust but VERIFY!
  5. Consider council when a contractor damages your property!
  6. REPORT UNLICENSED CONTRACTORS!!

 

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