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Finding a Qualified HVAC Contractor in CT

david_solar | Posted in General Questions on

Our build in CT is finally getting started, but there’s one aspect that isn’t 100% nailed down yet – the HVAC. The house is a ~4,500 sqft two-story with a walkout basement. 

My builder got a quote from his preferred sub, and it seemed oversized to me. We want heat pumps, and they initially recommended two units- a 42K one with three zones,  and a single zone 18K one. That seemed high to me, because even though we’re not building a PH or anything nuts, we’re doing better-than-code. I had an engineer run the calcs for me, and that came back with a recommendation of 24K and 18K. 

I understand that HVAC guys don’t want to install an undersized system and end up with unhappy customers, but I also don’t want a hugely oversized system. After talking with the sub, it turns out he hadn’t included proper assumptions about the insulation and windows we were using. He came back with a new proposal…for 36K and 24K. No idea how tightening up the numbers resulted in an increased system size for the 2FL. It’s not a cost thing, because he was happy to use whatever brand of equipment I wanted, but I don’t have confidence he’ll do a good job. 

I’ve reached out to nearly a dozen HVAC contractors in the Hartford area, and I can’t get a single one to provide a quote for new construction. Can anyone recommend a single HVAC company in my neck of the woods? Thank you!

EDIT: Adding in that there are no certified Fujitsu or Daikin installers near me, and a number of Diamond Mitsubishi dealers declined to bid.

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Replies

  1. nynick | | #1

    With my new build barn with second floor apartment on the CT shoreline, we used Foremost Mechanical out of East Windsor. Nice guys and capable. We are using them for the house HVAC equipment as well which is coming up shortly. He took his time and did a heat loss calculation based on the plans. We're using Mitsubishi Hyper Heat units.

    For the barn we also got a quote from Absolute Air. The estimator seemed to be quite knowledgeable but we didn't end up using them.

    Sizing these systems is a bit of a crap shoot from the builders and owners perspective. No one wants to question the capability or knowledge of these HVAC guys and the HVAC guys play it safe so they don't get any call backs.

    FWIW our apartment system works beautifully. I'm not sure about run time and efficiency etc, but my electric bill seems very reasonable. Take care of the air infiltration, insulate well and you're more than halfway there.

    1. david_solar | | #2

      Thank you for the recommendations, Nick! Foremost is going to put one together, and I had actually reached out to Absolute Air a month back and never heard back. Your reminder jogged my memory, and they had a quote waiting they had just never submitted. It's missing the ERV and doesn't include enough supply or return outlets, but it's a start!

    2. david_solar | | #9

      Five week update - Foremost called to say they were finishing a quote on a Friday and would send by EOD, I reached out the following Monday and the guy said he'd sent it - he hadn't - but would resend from the office. Since then it's been radio silence so I assume they're not interested in bidding.

      I've only been able to get a single additional quote, and despite explicitly telling them what we were looking for, they didn't include an ERV, they oversized the system (two 3.5 ton units), and they proposed putting ductwork AND the air handler in the attic, even though we specified using space between the floor trusses.

      I think we're stuck with the builder's guy unless an HVAC installer fairy waves their hand - at least his system wasn't as oversized as guy #2.

      1. nynick | | #10

        Something is going on...the Foremost installer is currently on my job and they travel from Windsor to the shoreline to get here....pretty far. I wonder what went wrong?

        Sorry.

        1. david_solar | | #11

          Not on you at all, and I appreciate the references regardless of whether they worked out! I get the impression that everywhere has a single sales guy, and that during summer months even the sales guys are dealing with broken A/C units.

  2. nynick | | #3

    Mention my name to Bill at Foremost. He was here just the other day. I also really like the installer, Mike.

    Meanwhile, Solar?

    1. david_solar | | #5

      Solar is outside the builder's remit - I've sent the plans to two companies and am waiting to hear back on quotes. The final roof design is much friendlier to getting a big system on there than the earlier plans.

      I did mention you to Bill; I'll let him know about Mike the next time we talk.

      1. nynick | | #7

        Careful. Early on I had 4 or 5 companies take a look. The industry seems to be chock full of shifty, commission oriented types who provide multiple confusing ways to take your money.

        1. david_solar | | #8

          I’m in commercial solar finance - this is the one thing I’m confident I can manage on my own! :)

  3. DamionL | | #4

    I’ve had luck by reaching out to the brand area reps, or calling supply houses and asking for referrals.

    You’re better off getting your load calcs done remotely by a qualified engineering firm, then giving all the specs to the hvac installer.

    1. david_solar | | #6

      I had load calcs done independently, and the first sub didn't believe them! Not much to do in that situation.

      I do appreciate the recommendation for supply houses - Winsupply was a former customer of mine, and I gave them a ring and they immediately named someone I hadn't heard of who I reached out to and is also going to be providing a quote. Thank you!

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