Fully Insured Exemplary Heating and Air Conditioning Company in Sonora, California..
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Proudly Serving The California Counties Of Tuolumne & Calaveras
Welcome to Performance Based heating and Air, are you interested in fewer breakdowns? Longevity of equipment? Energy consumption? Comfort? Then I encourage you to read some of my home page and navigate through the site. There is Facebook and YouTube available from here as well.
WHAT WE DO
We specialize in Service/Repair, Installation of new equipment, Duct design and installation, Change outs, Mini splits, New construction(Although rare, I’ll explain below), Renovations, Add-ons, Heat load calculations, Evaporative coolers, Gas furnaces, Heat pumps, Package units.
THE PRICE SHOPPER
Have you ever gone to different dealerships to buy a car? Or found something on eBay or amazon that costs less then everywhere else? Maybe even scored a deal with something lightly used for half price? Well I can honestly say I sure have, and I’ll do it again I’m sure. This is what many people call price shopping, and I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it. That car that you shopped around for, that toaster, coffee pot, refrigerator, washer & dryer, well these things are plug and play items, so no matter where you buy them they are all going to be equal. The same car sold at 6 car lots is the same car and it doesn’t matter which lot you buy from, so it makes total sense to buy from the one offering the best deal. That toaster just plugs into the wall and you’re good to go. But buying a heating and air conditioning unit? Well it’s a different story! This system has to be put together, and while it might seem like an easy task, it takes real talent to install a system that performs at manufacturer specifications. If you are looking for a company to install a system for you, please continue to read down below as I will lay out what makes a Contractor good. Whether you use me or someone else at least you will have enough information to make an educated decision. But first let me talk about service/repair work, and a few things to watch out for.
I charge a $90 service call fee, meaning the minimum payment is going to be $90. I do not charge $90 per hour, meaning if it takes me 3 hours to figure out what’s wrong it’s still $90. Parts replacements are all flat rate prices, so once I know what’s wrong I will tell you what it costs to repair. The $90 service call fee is tied into the repair cost if a repair is needed, so if a contactor is bad the repair cost would be $225 TOTAL. If you decided to not do the repair it would be the $90. I accept checks, cash, and credit cards.
I am a N.A.T.E(North American Technical Excellence) certified technician, I hold 6 certifications. I am NCI(National Comfort Institute) certified, I hold 4 certifications. Both are nationally recognized HVAC certifications. I am the only certified member listed in the entire Motherlode for both entities. That’s like saying I’m the only ASC mechanic in the Motherlode. Kind of shows the quality of the HVAC field in our area.
I have been to so many training classes, have years of schooling and continue on a daily basis to study the HVAC trade, a student of the trade if you will. And I have resources at my fingertips with hundreds of years of collective experience I can tap into, none of them are local. There just isn’t any good information to be found on this mountain; everybody I have met uses rules of thumb and bad practices.
I won’t turn anybody loose to work for my company without proper training or shadowing; my brother is currently training with me now and will not be in a service van by himself until completing 1 year of training with me. I don’t believe that a customer should pay for someone’s education by allowing them to practice on their equipment. The problem with service technicians learning on your equipment is they become what we call in the industry professional parts changers; they don’t know what’s wrong so throw a few parts at it to find out. If they can’t fix it they’ll punt and try to sell new equipment. And do you think that the company they work for is going to say anything about a technician with higher service call tickets? No! As a matter fact they encourage it. You won’t get that here, if I can’t diagnose the problem I won’t change a part without telling you what I found. And if you’re willing to go with me when I look at your system I encourage that too, you’re more than welcome to stay the entire time, ask me any questions you want, doesn’t bother me a bit.
Be aware of the sales tech, this is the guy dressed up as a technician but pitches sales, beware of the maintenance contract it’s just a way to practice their sales every 6 months. Beware of maintenance or service call fees that are too low, that is just a gimmick to get their foot in the door then they gouge you with repair prices or sell you things you don’t need to make up for the low fee they used to get in the door. Understand that the HVAC industry has turned into big time sales and they are smarter than you!
INSTALLATION OF NEW EQUIPMENT/WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CONTRACTOR
Let’s start with what a new installation should look like.
1. Sit down and talk with customer to figure out what their needs and wants are!
2. Run a static pressure test on current system to see how much air the duct system is moving and whether there needs to be corrections made before installing new system.
3. Talk about the job, the design, the installation practices, NOT THE EQUIPMENT! The equipment is only as good as the install, practically all equipment, aside from one option or another is the same. If the contractor is telling you all about the equipment, the warranties, how long they been in business, and not about the technical aspects of the job, it’s because they don’t know what they are doing. Period! Any good tradesman will talk to you about the install, any good sales man will talk to you about the equipment.
4. Do a manual J load calculation to determine size of equipment needed
5. Do a manual D duct design to ensure new equipment is not stressed out and can move enough air.
6. Check refrigerant levels with superheat and subcooling
7. Check combustion analysis to ensure unit is heating properly and safely
8. Do a duct test and permit if required
9. Manual RS, commissioning of your work, testing to insure it is doing what you designed it to do. At the bare minimum, MAKE SURE YOU MAKE THEM DO A STATIC PRESSURE TEST. This is a very simple test to check if airflow is correct. Most equipment is designed to run at .50 and it says it right on the nameplate. Without the right airflow your system is going to be stressed out. If they don’t know what this test is, or can’t do it, RUN very fast.
10. I will discuss this stuff in more detail further down the page, now that you have this knowledge don’t tip your hand, let said contractor come in and talk to you about the job, let him get comfortable and do his sales pitch. THEN ask him about these things mentioned and see what he says! If he doesn’t know then you are not talking to a tradesman you're talking to a sales man. It’s your money you’re spending, but I highly recommend finding another company. Sales men go to school to learn how to sell not install.
So how do you find a Contractor to do this job for you? Well you can start with 3 bids, but honestly you may not find anybody that knows what this stuff is if you did 10 bids. There is a lot of good Contractors out there don’t get me wrong, but we are badly out numbered. You can ask for references, check yelp, YP(yellow page reviews), Angies list, ask your friends, or even 3B ratings? Sure these are all great resources, but I’ve seen many of these very companies fail miserably installing equipment, and nobody knows because they don’t do any kind of testing to confirm their work. One might think that if someone has their contractor license they must know what they are doing, but in actuality the contractor's test is hardly a test of knowledge. You need not prove HVAC competence to get an HVAC license! And those reviews your reading, well they likely came from awesome customer service!
Let me reiterate the price shopper. When looking for a contractor remember HE is the last person on the assembly line, HE is the one that puts it all together, and boy does that job matter. You can start off with a Porsche and end up with a lemon, and the likelihood that with all your research and prepping it still happens is high, very high!
In 2015 I tested approximately 350 units for proper airflow, meaning that they were moving manufacture designed airflow, 1 unit passed, a handful of about 10 came close. The rest failed miserably, and that means those units energy efficiency isn’t at design either. Stressed out equipment breaks down more frequently, doesn’t live as long as it should, leaves customers with comfort issues and noise issues, and increases run times which increase energy consumption. It’s bad, really bad! And these are from companies with rave reviews, been around for decades.
Let’s talk about equipment brands because of course we want the best, the most reliable, so which one is it? I might burst your bubble but they are all the same! The equipment doesn’t matter, the installation and everything attached to that equipment matters. A good contractor can take any equipment and make it work great. But like I said before it takes real skill to do it right.
Good contractors are in high demand, the time, money and effort used to do a good install is considerably more than those contractors that slap it in. While my prices are often higher than the hacks price, he is making more on the job than me because I use quality products and don’t cut corners, and my time there is ultimately a lot longer than his. The homeowner and the equipment are the real losers in this scenario. The real danger in having a contractor work/install your equipment is not paying too much, but rather paying too little. This is why I don’t do work for many general contractors or new construction, these jobs go to the lowest bidder and I’m not willing to compromise my morals to meet someone’s bid. It costs what it costs to do it right.
So what consists of a good install? Or maybe I should say what do I do that is different than other HVAC companies?
1. Once I know what the customer wants and we have agreed upon the price and work I start with a heat load calculation of the home. This is a measurement of the exterior and sometimes interior of the home. R-values for insulation in walls, doors, windows, siding, and attic are calculated. As well as how the sun hits the home, the size of the windows, and what kind of blinds you have. This information is loaded into software which determines what size equipment I need to install. This calculation is done with ACCA approved software, not some phone app or piece of paper.
2. Next we do a manual D duct design, using the information from the heat load calc we now know how big the ducts need to be to accommodate the airflow for the size of equipment you need. Without these being done it’s all a guess! You might have been told it works off of square footage but that is a big fat lie. A 2000sqft home built in 2010 would never need the same size air conditioner as a 2000sqft home built in 1960
3. Next I compare my heat load calculation to the equipment being installed, because it’s supposed to be 12,000btu per ton, but equipment doesn’t really delivery that. A 3 ton system may only delivery 33,000 out of the 36,000 it’s rated for. This is called manual S. Yes they have a manual for everything but you will be hard pressed to find a HVAC contractor that knows this.
4. We live in a dry climate, so we can run lots more air through an air conditioning system then a humid place. It’s rarely understood by other companies and even more rarely done, but I consistently design systems that push 550cfm per ton. Industry standard is 400cfm per ton and almost all of the systems in the motherlode that I tested are closer to 275-350cfm per ton. This is where that static pressure test needs to be done; it’ll tell you if your system is operating well or not so well.
5. I have to special order all kinds of stuff because our supply house doesn’t carry it. High performance evaporators, 20” ducts, 20” adjustable 90’s, R8 silver backed insulation, 20x36 filter grills. All the things needed to design and build a performance HVAC system.
6. I charge air conditioning systems using superheat and subcooling; this is the only way a system should be charged. Most techs use pressures, which is absurd and leads to under and overcharging and damaging of equipment.
7. I use a micron gauge to make sure the system doesn’t have any leaks. A micron gauge reads from -500 up to 1000 in increments of 10. Most companies don’t even own one and just use their refrigerant gauges which read -500 to 1000 in increments of 500. There’s just no way to pick up a small leak reading increments of 500.
8. I braze with nitrogen, this is not very well known either, but without it burned metal flakes will form inside your copper lines. So what I’m saying is when copper lines are welded without nitrogen being purged through the line, metal flakes will form and contaminate your system. They will mix with the refrigerant and move around the system. This is a great way to plug up your metering device and cause premature failure. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpqxbc9XQ5Y
9. Ducts, by far this is the biggest problem I see in the field, any turns more than 45* get metal adjustable 90*s so the ducts don’t kink and decrease circumference and airflow. On average I use 20 adjustable 90*s per duct system. Very time consuming but imperative to meet the airflow budget. Ducts are pulled tight, strapped loosely, and laid on attic floor if in an attic to keep conduction loss down. I DO NOT USE DUCT TAPE. Duct tape loses its adhesive when heating, if you have duct tape holding your ducts together they will eventually come apart if they haven’t already.
10. I use mixing boxes/plenums for air returns and distributions. Many systems are built with ducts going right into the furnace or coming right out of the evaporator. Horrible design and once again is another airflow problem.
11. Again, the only guy around that is combustion analysis certified by NCI and Jim Davis. I check to ensure system is burning fuel safely and efficiently. I can check water heaters too.
If you can find a company that does some of this stuff you're way ahead of most, but it may seriously take ten estimates before anybody talks about this kind of technical tradesman ship. If you’re interested in having me do it give me a call, best is to have this as a plan to do it in the off season as installs like this take about a week and I just can’t do them in the dead of summer or winter.
If you’re looking for Home performance, I have spoken and done some work with Tom Danielsen buildhomesgreen.com out of Angels Camp. He is a general contractor that knows more about HVAC than any of the HVAC contractors. I promote his business 100%. Great guy does fabulous work.
He also follows the same practices I follow for HVAC installation.
Air Conditioning (AC) Installations in Sonora CA
Why Hire Performance Based Heating & Air For AC Installations
We here at Performance Based Heating & Air do AC installations for good prices. You just have to get into touch with us and we’ll help you through the process. If you want to learn more, read through the following text.
One thing you want to avoid is trying to do an AC installation on your own if you’re not trained. That’s a sure way to mess the job up and make it cost you more to get it taken care of. You may end up damaging the new unit which can cost you or you could even get hurt. You want our team to take care of this for you and you’ll know it will be done right. Just let us know you need help with an AC repair and we can get the process started for you right away.
At Performance Based Heating & Air we take pride in making customers happy. We make sure that we charge prices that are fair and we invite you to check pricing with other companies so you can see that we are charging you what we know is fair. There are a lot of companies out there that try to overcharge for an installation so you have to be careful about who you hire to do this kind of work. We do our best to keep prices at a point that is good for our customers so that we can continue to get business.
You need to get an AC installation done to save money on your electrical bills. If you notice that when it’s hot and you’re running your AC a lot that you have high bills, then it’s time to look into a new unit. They make units that save electricity and work a lot better than the older ones that suck electricity up fast. You will notice a difference right away when you get a new unit that is energy saving. We can help you save enough to where the AC installation basically pays for itself over time.
AC installations done by us will be done fast and professionally so you can get back to being comfortable in your home quickly. You don’t want to hire an amateur because they are going to take their time and they may make mistakes that a professional from our company would never make. We take pride in doing good work the first time we try, so look into us if you want to get the best professional assistance. When you look us up we know that you’ll find information about us that shows we are your number one pick for an AC installation service.
When you work with us at Performance Based Heating & Air you will be happy with the results. We can install your new AC unit and it will save you money over time. It’s very much worth it to get a new AC, especially if the one you have is dated.