Monday, May 25, 2009

The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) HVAC Quality Installation (QI) Specification for Contractors and Technicians

It is readily apparent that quite a few of the air-conditioners and heat pumps installed in structures across the US fail to work as specified. Some of the reasons include sizing, airflow issues and incorrect refrigerant charge. Other issues relate to improper installation practices and questionable service procedures. Any of these problems may cause the system to perform less than satisfactory for the owner…especially concerning efficiency and comfort. Reputable contractors are called everyday to correct these issues and others. Hopefully, the contractors and technicians who are correcting issues are working with more knowledge and professionalism than the ones that installed and serviced the equipment originally. As this situation has existed for years and seems to be appearing more and more often, a national effort is occurring that will focus on the proper installation, operation, and servicing of HVAC systems nationwide.

In early 2007, after several years of development, including consultation with a variety of stakeholders, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) announced that its “HVAC Quality Installation (QI) Specification,” was formally recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a national standard.

ACCA is a group of air conditioning contractors who work together to improve the HVAC industry, promote good practices, and keep homes and buildings safe, clean and comfortable. ACCA attempts to bring together contractors through various learning opportunities. As part of their research concerning the HVAC industry, they concluded that there is a significant need to establish a higher competency level for HVAC contractors nationwide today, to effectively ensure quality installations.

The QI establishes the characteristics of a quality installation, as well as the acceptable procedures and documentation to demonstrate compliance. It addresses the design, load calculations, installation procedures, airflow across the coils, airflow in each conditioned space, ductwork design and installation, duct tightness, refrigerant charge, documentation, and education about the system. This approach is extremely important to the contractor and owner alike, as it hopefully results in exceptional comfort conditions. The QI ultimately helps contractors and technicians with quality issues concerning the installation, as well as service and repair of those installations.

ACCA also has the Quality Installation Verification Protocols (QIVP). These measures involve verifying that an HVAC installation meets the standard’s requirements. The protocols are intended to protect the value and integrity of the QI through qualified and objective examination of system installations. Third-party participants (contractors, independent verifiers, and others) will follow the document’s protocols to assure the installation meets the minimum requirements. The QIVPs allow the opportunity to examine the complete HVAC system installation and ensure it is operating as specified and expected.

This specification details a level of performance that, if satisfactorily achieved, serves as an indicator that good industry practices were utilized during the design and installation of the system.

Installations that meet the QI will probably cost more than a typical HVAC job, and most owners will need to be educated about the increased value of the extra work. However, a quality installation that meets or exceeds the QI should not cost much more than 10 to 15 percent above an installation not meeting the QI specifications.

There are also other quality initiative materials available from ACCA, including: Quality Maintenance (QM), and Quality Restoration (QR).

Phil Rains

About the Author:
Phil Rains is Master Trainer/Technical Developer for has over
35 years of HVACR experience in installation, service, management and training.He has traveled extensively across the country to provide training to technicians.
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