Here are some essential questions you should ask your air-source heat pump installer before your system is put in:
Did you perform a heat load calculation to determine the sizing of the system?
Many installers size systems using general rules and their experience. If you are installing an air-source heat pump to serve as your primary or only source of heat, it is important that the system be well designed; a heat load calculation for your specific home is an important tool in selecting the right equipment.
Where will you mount the outdoor unit(s) and how? Will exterior piping be visible? If so, what type of covering will you use?
Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the location of the outdoor units. If there will be exterior piping on your house, installers have different options to cover it up so that it looks like a downspout.
What type of indoor units do you recommend, where will they be located, and why?
Make sure you understand where the indoor units will be placed and whether this matches your goals for your heat pump project and how you use the space.
How will the controls and thermostat be set up?
Ask your installer to explain the thermostat and controls for your system. This is especially important if your installer is putting in integrated controls that operate your heat pump system and a backup heating source together. Additionally, many wall-mounted ductless units have the thermostat in the heat pump indoor unit; a separate thermostat installed at chest height would more accurately sense the temperature in the living space.
What is the installation price and what incentives may be available? Who will apply for these incentives?
Make sure that you understand upfront who will apply for any incentives that you are pursuing and when you need to apply (before vs. after installation).
Aside from annual electricity costs, what other annual costs can I expect (such as regular maintenance or parts)?
MassCEC suggests that you have your heat pumps inspected and cleaned every one to two years. Ask if your contractor performs routine maintenance or if they have someone that they recommend.
How far in advance can we plan the installation and how long does the installation take?
Be sure to communicate if you have particular time constraints and get a sense when your installer will be available to do the installation. Summer is the busiest time of the year for air-source heat pump installers and many installers have some delays during the summer season.
What should I do to prepare for the installation?
Make sure you understand from your installer if there is anything you need to do to prepare to have them working in your home.
Do you provide a warranty for the systems you install? What are the different warranty options?
Make sure you understand what is covered by any warranty offered by your contractor (i.e., equipment, labor, or both).
Have you participated in manufacturer training for the systems you would install, and can you provide references from previous customers?
As with any home improvement project, it is important to ensure that your installer has the right training and a good track record with past customers.
(If you are aiming to have a whole-home system installed) How many other whole-home air-source heat pump projects have you completed?
As with any home improvement project, it is important to ensure that a contractor has experience doing similar work. Ask for three references for other customers who’ve had whole-home air-source heat pumps installed and email/call those references to inquire about their satisfaction with the installer.
Will you hire subcontractors to complete portions of the project? If so, what will they do? What are the names of these companies and how long have you worked with them?
Many air-source heat pump installers sub-contract the electrical work. Some will even allow the homeowner to select their own electrician.
Will you provide training for me on how to properly operate and maintain the system (i.e., thermostat settings, cleaning air filters)?
Air-source heat pumps are relatively simple to operate, but there are a few differences compared to other heating systems, and your installer should be a good educational resource.
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