Thursday, June 11, 2009

Using The Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Maintenance of Residential HVAC Systems (QM) Standard

When HVAC systems are installed in homes by professional contractors and technicians in compliance with the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) “HVAC Quality Installation (QI) Specification,” the result is a quality system that should provide years of comfort for the owner. Contractors have many variations concerning ongoing maintenance of these systems after installation. Some use “maintenance or service agreements” and “tune-ups” to assure the system continues to work as specified by the original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Most perform periodic inspections of the existing systems to ensure that they provide comfortable, healthy indoor conditions, and continue to operate efficiently throughout the system’s expected life. Others provide system inspections of HVAC systems installed by others to determine those system’s worthiness for operation.

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 ACCA QI establishes the characteristics of a quality installation, as well as the acceptable procedures and documentation to demonstrate compliance. ACCA also has developed the Maintenance of Residential HVAC Systems (QM) standard. The ACCA QM takes the next step and establishes a minimum level of acceptable compliance for HVAC equipment inspections.

This standard provides a nationally-recognized and OEM-endorsed set of inspection criteria to meet this need. It provides contractors and technicians a beginning point for creating a maintenance effort, allowing for combining various recommendations for correction at various fee structures. It also provides the end-user (the customer) a method to compare the value of any additional recommendations for corrective measures necessary to correct system malfunctions.

Performing maintenance on HVAC systems requires knowledgeable contractors and technicians who demonstrate this knowledge when inspecting a system. They should easily be able to determine if a system is incorrectly designed, selected, or installed. Additionally, they should be able to determine if the system is past its expected useful life or has been seriously neglected from a service and maintenance standpoint. These HVAC systems are typically installed in one and two-family structures of three stories or less.

When utilizing the ACCA QM criteria, checklists are provided for inspecting, testing, and measuring electrical, controls, mechanical, venting, air distribution, and piping systems. These checklists provide corrective actions, which should be presented to the homeowner to remedy any identifiable fault or system malfunction. This could also include periodic cleaning, adjustments, and/or replacement of equipment or system components on a periodic basis.

Contractors and technicians may use the ACCA QM standard to demonstrate minimum maintenance requirements and the need to perform certain servicing tasks. The checklists involved with the ACCA QM also allow contractors and technicians to highlight added services offered in maintenance and service contracts.

When contractors and technicians conduct regularly scheduled inspections, maintenance, and cleaning of HVAC systems, the result is prolonged equipment efficiency, clean air, and lower utility costs. Additionally these inspections help protect the HVAC system against unexpected failures, while providing prolonged equipment life. This not only benefits the homeowners, but the environment as well.

The ACCA “HVAC Quality Installation (QI) Specification is available from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America website at ACCA.

By Phil Rains

About the Author:
Phis is Master Trainer/Technical Developer for
He has traveled extensively across the country training technicians, emphasizing quality installation and maintenance.He has over 35 years of HVAC and Refrigeration
experience in installation, service, training and management. He is ACCA EPIC-Certified in residential and commercial design.