HVAC Upgrades – Things To Consider

Posted on: August 12th, 2014 by RF Ohl

Is your HVAC system on it’s last legs? If your heating and air conditioning system is 15 to 20 years old (or older), you probably want to start contemplating a system upgrade. Watch this video with Steve Ohl to learn a few tips on what you should be looking for when considering buying a new HVAC system.



Video transcription:
Brett: Hi everybody, this is Brett Lewis with L4 Group and today we’re going to be talking about HVAC systems. I’ve got an expert on the line with us, Steve Ohl from RF Ohl. Steve, how are you?

Steve: I’m good. How are you?

Brett: Good, I’m doing awesome. I was chatting with somebody who lives on the other side of the country. He knows that I do a lot of work with you, Steve. We were talking about HVAC systems and he actually started asking questions about upgrading his system. So he started asking questions about how to go about starting the process and what he should be looking at.

I said this would be a great topic to interview you. So that’s what we’re going to do today. But before we get started, why don’t you give everybody a background about RF Ohl and what it is that you guys do.

Steve: Sure. Actually this year is our 30th year [in business]. We’re a heating oil and propane delivery company. We also are a full service HVAC installation and repair service company.

We do air conditioning, heating systems, heat pumps, fuel oil, natural gas, heating oil and propane. We also have a full line, hearth and patio show room where you can come in and see all the different fireplaces and heaters. We have retractable awnings, barbecue grills, outdoor patio furniture, fire pits, lots of other outdoor products.

So you have to come in and see that. But yeah, we do have quite a few different product lines that we service but they kind of all tie together. They’re pretty much all energy-related. So check out our website and stop in and see it sometimes. I will give you a tour.

Brett: Yeah, that’s awesome. So basically in a nutshell, you keep people warm in the winter. You keep us cool in the summer and when we want to play outdoors, you provide all the tools to do that too.

Steve: Correct. Your source for indoor comfort and outdoor fun.

Brett: Awesome, I like that. So like I said, I was talking to a buddy of mine who is in Colorado and his [HVAC] system is starting to fail and I thought this would be a great topic to go over. So can you give home owners some bullet points or things that they should consider whenever they’re looking to upgrade their heating and air conditioning system?

Steve: Well, one of the big things is the comfort level with the old system because that will tell them what they need in the new system. So you want to be aware, which I’m sure everybody probably is, what the comfort level of the old system was and what they want to do to improve it.

What would they like to achieve with the new system? That’s the next thing. What exactly do they want to do? Do they have a certain room that’s not heating or cooling properly? What do they want to fix with this new system?

System efficiency is another big thing. Do you want to pay for the efficiency versus going with the standard kind of a system? So there are a couple of different options. Actually there are many different options in efficiencies, so naturally the higher the efficiency, the more expensive the system, but there are paybacks with that.

The safety of operation is another thing. What’s actually involved with the system that you have and can it be operated safely? Make sure that it’s a fit with you and your home and that it’s installed correctly. The other thing is the warranties that are offered. There’s a wide range of warranties out there. Some are specific to the company that installs it and some are manufacturer-specific with the manufacturer of the unit.

The extended cost of operation is another thing. That would be heating oil versus natural gas versus propane versus electric. The fuels used, the maintenance, the system longevity. Once the unit is in the 15 to 20-year-old range, it’s really time to consider replacing it.

We tell most of our customers that call that if you’re in the 10 to 12-year range [of lifespan]. Just start planning for it [a replacement]. Maybe set up some type of a monthly budget to put so much away or possibly securing financing, that you should start thinking about it because first thing is a system failure in the middle of summer or in the middle of winter and you really need that system up and running very quickly. It’s so much better to prepare for it.

It’s kind of like purchasing a new car. After a certain number of years, you’re going to need a new car. So you start planning for it.

Perhaps one of the biggest things is to know the company that’s installing your system. Be able to ask them questions. Are they accessible 24 hours a day? Can you actually meet them before they do the installation?

You should feel comfortable with them. Did they answer your phone? Did they return your phone calls? Do they have a website that you can check them out? Ask your friends and neighbors that – for referrals. But those are the big items that I think about when installing a system in my home or a business

Brett: That’s awesome. That’s a great series of checkpoints to go through and one thing, I just want to expand a little bit on was that last point because that’s really important. When a home owner is looking to upgrade their system, they want to work with a reputable company. Can you give us just some real brief pointers on what they should be looking at there?

I mean I know you have a phrase that you use. I think it’s Chuck in the truck or man in the van, something like that. So if you can just expand a little bit on how they should be looking for a good HVAC contractor.

Steve: I mean I can just give you a quick example of what we were talking about and you said Chuck in the truck or man in the van. We get calls at least three to four times a year where a brand new system was installed and the manufacturer has no idea of the serial numbers or model numbers because the warranty was never filed. The product may not have existed because it may have been purchased on the internet and then resold to the customer and the guy [that installed the HVAC system] that showed up is no longer in business because it was kind of a sideline thing for him.

I mean some of the things to look for in a reputable company, if you’re in Pennsylvania, you need to have a PA contractor number. Our number is PA 175. They’re up into like the 100,000 numbers I believe now. But have a PA contractor that is licensed and when they show up or identifying them clearly. Make sure that again, they answer the phone, that it’s not just a mobile phone they’re operating through, that they actually have some structure to their business because you’re putting your faith in them to install something that’s going to be part of your home for 15, 20 years or more. You should want them to have an equal number of years in business or have some kind of a reputation established that they’re going to take care of you if something happens.

For instance when RF Ohl does an install, it’s worry-free for a year. Any issues pop up, no questions asked. Everything is taken care of. You don’t always get that. Put it to somebody who’s new to – new or fresh start and you’re not sure of the longevity of that company. So check out all those things. Those are the most important things that you can have when looking into an HVAC company.

Brett: That’s great advice. You cut out a little bit there when you were talking about the PA license number. But you were saying you’re 175 and just to clarify that for our viewers, when Pennsylvania instituted that law which I guess it has been now maybe five years or so that it has been out there.

Steve: Yeah, I think 2009 it started I guess.

Brett: So when they instituted that, the contractors had to go and register with the state and get licensed. So out of thousands of registrations that are out there now, probably even tens of thousands, RF Ohl, you guys were the 175th contractor in the State to get licensed. So that’s pretty cool.

Steve: Yeah, we don’t tend to wait around once rules and regulations are instituted. We like to know how they fit into the business and how they fit in for the homeowner. So we’re on that right away and we belong to a lot of trade organizations and they keep us aware of all the new rules and regulations. So it’s particularly important.

Now you’ve mentioned that. That’s another good thing to look for is does your contractor actually belong to some organizations because that kind of gives them ties to the community also.

Brett: Exactly. One last thing before we wrap up, talking about ties with the community. You guys also do a lot with the community. I know that you get involved. You sponsor I think local sports teams. You’ve got Oktoberfest coming up which you get involved in every year. So that’s another thing to look at as well. Is the contractor active in the community outside of heating and air conditioning?

Steve: Yeah. I mean we do over 75 events every year that we either directly sponsor or we participate in or we provide something to the event to help the event organizers or the particular charity involved.

But yeah, the next big thing coming up is the Carbon County Oktoberfest, October 4th and 5th, and that’s at the Franklin Township Fire Company on Fairyland Road in Lehighton. I’m pretty excited about that. That’s a great time and it’s all authentic food and a portion of the money raised goes to the Blue Ridge Chapter of Dream Come True. So anything about helping children, we’re definitely all about that.

Brett: Yeah, that’s very good to hear. Local businesses taking part in community events like that, that’s awesome. So Steve, I want to say thanks for taking the time today to give us tips on HVAC systems. You want to just wrap up with giving everybody your phone number, your Web address and the ways that they can get a hold of you?

Steve: Sure. Phone number is 610-377-1098. Our web address is www.rfohl.com and also on the website you can click on our Twitter and Facebook accounts and stay in touch that way. We also accept emails which our email address is info@rfohl.com.

You can even write us a letter if you want. We will read it, 400 Interchange Road, Lehighton, PA, 18235. That’s our address. We’re right next to Wentz Auto Body on Route 209. You can’t miss it. It’s right along the road and just a quick thing on the letter. It’s interesting.

I keep in touch with my customers. I usually write a letter a couple of times a year to them and somebody said the other day, “When was the last time you got a letter?” and the conversation said, “Oh, I don’t know. I can’t remember the last time I wrote one.” I said, “You know what? I write one three, four times a year or so.” This is something maybe we got to get back in to keep in touch.

Brett: Exactly, exactly. I know from a marketing perspective we focus on a lot of online marketing and webinars and things of that nature. But we have high impact going back to old school techniques of direct mail marketing and just plain handwritten letters. We don’t get them that often so when you do get them, they really stand out.

Steve: Yeah. Somebody out there writes a letter and I will answer it.

Brett: Exactly. All right. Well Steve, thanks again for taking time today to talk about HVAC and I will talk to you soon.

Steve: All right. Thanks Brett.

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