Your Residential HVAC System; Types, Considerations, and Finding the Right Contractor

Residential hvac

One of the most important yet bothersome areas of service and repair for many homeowners is their HVAC system - heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Climate control systems; an important aspect of new construction, home renovation, and home repair certain to confront every home owner at one time or another.

Because principles involved in air conditioner cooling heating systems vary, depending upon the type of cooling and heating system used, a basic understanding how each works is important.

HVAC Unit Basics

HVAC systems fall into one of two categories; local or central. Local heating is a type of ductless heating system; providing heat to a single, localized area. Local cooling heating sources include fire places, electric radiators, space heaters, window unit air conditioners, pellet and wood stoves, fans, etc.

Central cooling heating systems distribute hot water, steam, or air throughout a structure. This is accomplished through a network of ducts or pipes, depending upon system type. For obvious reasons, cold climate areas most often use central heating as their major heat source.

A central cooling heating unit contains a boiler, furnace, or heat pump; to heat water, steam, or air at a centralized location before distribution throughout a building by way of piping or ductwork.

Heated water or steam flows from the heat pump, or boiler heating hydronic system into pipes. The pipes connect to a baseboard heating system, convector, or radiator that distributes heat throughout that room. Some systems have one pipe that connects to each fixture; other systems have two.

A central heating system that uses forced air feeds a series of ductwork that connects to vents, strategically placed in the coldest part of the room. This would typically be next to windows to minimize condensation, or along external walls. A second system of ducts circulates cold air back to the furnace.

Ventilation exchanges inside air with outside air; removing moisture, odors, airborne bacteria, heat, and smoke. Improving air quality. And, of course, air conditioning helps keep inside air at a comfortable level.

The heating, ventilating, and air conditioning functions associated with HVAC units are all closely interrelated. Combined, they provide a comfortable temperature with sufficient humidity, and improved indoor air quality for suitable indoor living conditions.

Residential HVAC Home Renovation Tip

Planning a home renovation addition or an old home renovation project may require expansion of the HVAC system. Homeowners should keep the following in mind:

  • An experienced special trade contractor, such as a heating and air conditioning contractor or heating ventilating contractor, is your best source for understanding the existing central system. He or she can determine if the residential HVAC system needs to be expanded to meet new renovation requirements, or if auxiliary heating and/or cooling appliances would suffice. This could save you a considerable amount of money on overall home renovation cost.

  • Even cosmetic alterations to a room, such as the addition of a bay window or change in room shape or size, may require additional heating ducts. Not only for adequate heat, but also to stay in compliance with building codes.

  • Canadian residents with limited funds who would like to expand or update their HVAC system might qualify for government assistance. Visit to check eligibility or acquire a Canadian government home renovation grant, loan, or rebate.

  • When making plans to finish off your basement or attic for increased living or work space, consider this. Expanding a forced-air HVAC system in a basement is relatively simple. It usually entails just the addition of a few extra ducts; something a handy do-it-yourself homeowner might be able to accomplish on their own. Running ducts up to the attic, however, would be much more of a challenge.

  • Expanding a boiler heating hydronic system requires adding new pipes and fixtures. An experienced local plumber or mechanical HVAC contractor might be your best choice as a service provider.

  • As with any home renovation project that alters the structure or home system in any way, such as plumbing and wiring, check with your local building department before beginning work. Make sure you follow local building code criteria, obtain any necessary permits, and have work inspected to ensure your project is code-compliant.

  • If your HVAC system will not handle the additional load required to meet your new room addition or home renovation project, and if funds are tight, consider supplemental units. An electric baseboard heater and window unit air conditioner, for instance. Room A/C units usually plug into a 240-volt receptacle; heaters will either plug into a standard 120-volt receptacle, or else can be wired to a 240-volt circuit. While this will be easier and less costly than expanding your residential HVAC system, it might require a new circuit in your electrical panel.

Another alternative to expanding your cooling heating system, and an increasing popular one, is to install a radiant heating system. This system heats using electrical wires or hot-water tubing inserted behind the finish surfaces of walls, ceilings and floors.

Large scale installations of this type system are not a diy project; services of a special trade or knowledgeable residential general contractor are required.

Hiring a Contractor for Your HVAC Update or Expansion Project

When it comes to hiring the right contractor for new HVAC installation or HVAC unit expansion, keep the following in mind:

  • When hiring any contractor, check out credentials and licensing. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if any complaints have been lodged against the contractor and/or their company.

  • Request references and check them out. Ask references if they were satisfied with the completed project; if the project was completed on time and whether or not they would ever hire the contractor again. If not, ask why.

  • Look for a contractor you feel comfortable with; one who fully explains HVAC requirements for your home renovation idea and takes the time to listen to questions and explain HVAC jargon.

  • Find out if the contractor belongs to any local or national organizations or groups. Check to see if they are members in good standing.

  • Keep communication lines open; make yourself available for consultation throughout the project.

  • Make sure bids you collect from contractor candidates are actual project bids - not “estimates,” which are subject to change.

HVAC Contractor Selection and the Contract

When you have found 2 or 3 contractors you consider good candidates, provide each with an identical detailed description of your project, and collect bids. Once you have selected the HVAC contractor you feel most comfortable with, draw up a contact with detailed information.

The contract should include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of both parties, and the legal address of the renovation site. It should contain a detailed job description, starting and ending dates, a detailed materials list, labor and materials costs, payment schedules, who is responsible for obtaining permits, and anything else pertinent to the project.

Meet with the contractor and go over the contract before signing it. Both the contractor and the project owner should sign the contract, each retaining a copy for their files.

Other Considerations

Word of mouth recommendations can yield success in finding a contractor for your HVAC related home renovation project. Online Internet resources are becoming increasingly popular, and offer a wider selection of reliable local contractors from which to choose. One effective online resource is

A contractor to homeowner matchmaking service dubbed “an online match made in heaven” by Global News, offers commercial and residential project owners free access to informative new construction, business, and home renovation articles.

View contractor member service provider profiles, and make contact with contractor candidates at your discretion. Post your project online with easy-to-use tools, and receive competitive bids from special trade and heating and air conditioning contractor members in your area. It's absolutely free, with no obligation.

For more information or answers to questions e-mail Finding the right HVAC special trade contractor at the right price could be just an e-mail away. Why not post your project online for free - today?

To locate a reliable HVAC contractor, post your project online for free and receive bids from professionals in your area, ready to compete for your business.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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