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Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Ensure You Are Installing Properly Matched Split-System Air Conditioners And Heat Pumps

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In the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, which devastated the east coast of the United States in late October, ACCA reminds contractors of the importance of properly matching split-system air conditioners and heat pumps when making repairs to damaged systems. This is especially important when only one component (e.g., the outdoor condensing unit or indoor airhandler) is damaged.

As of 2006, all newly manufactured central air conditioners and heat pumps must achieve a minimum SEER of 13. Many HVAC systems damaged in the storm were installed prior to 2006, so are less likely to meet the minimum federally mandated SEER requirement. If the damaged unit does not meet the 13 SEER requirement, contractors need to replace the entire system, so that it is properly matched and works together efficiently.

Per the January 15, 2013 press release from the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI):

“Improperly matched indoor and outdoor units can create undue stress on a cooling system, dramatically reducing efficiency (such systems are at least 30 percent less efficient) and resulting in an unnecessary, premature failure. Furthermore, when installing a new system that uses a non-ozone depleting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant (typically R-410A), the indoor and outdoor units must be properly matched or the system will prematurely fail.  ”

The ANSI/ACCA 5 QI – 2010 Standard (HVAC Quality Installation Specification) requires the use of a matched set to ensure the system will operate efficiently. Mismatched HVAC components are less likely to address consumer comfort, humidity, and indoor air quality concerns.  Thus before any equipment changes are made to an existing HVAC system, it should be certified as an AHRI matching unit by accessing AHRI’s free online Directory of Certified Product Performance at

“ACCA knows that the majority of professional contractors are out there selecting equipment  properly and following the federal requirements for matching split-system air conditioners and heat pumps,” said Paul T. Stalknecht, ACCA president and CEO. “However, any time a major disaster happens and there is a large influx of work, unprofessional contractors looking to make quick money come onto the scene. In addition, many insurance companies and their adjuster representatives may be unfamiliar with this system matching requirement when claims settlement offers are tendered. We want to remind HVAC contractors how important it is to do things right by following the Quality Installation Specification and educating your customers about this need. When homeowners are already dealing with the difficulty of losing everything and the complexities of seeking insurance settlements, we want to make sure that replacing their heating and cooling system does not add to their stress.”

ACCA has several resources for its members to help them understand the need for matching systems and to help explain this to their customers. ACCA members can download the Technical Bulletin, “Replacing R-22 Systems with R-410A Systems,” at

There are also several Q&As in ACCA’s “Ask The Experts” library. ACCA members can access those Q&As at

For questions about the ACCA 5 QI (available from requirements or how to properly match systems email,

Posted In: ACCA Now, Partner News

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