Days after we moved into our dream home here in Bromley’s section of Norfolk, our aged central air system burped a couple times, shuddered hard, squealed loudly and then fell over dead. It wasn’t pretty.
My husband didn’t take it well, exclaiming, “I thought you said this was going to be a low-maintenance house!”
“It will be,” I explained, “as soon as we get the air conditioner replaced!”
When I had the central air installed at my old house, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling and got a bid from them. Their prices were the highest, so I went with another firm. The other firm did not perform up to my expectations. The system was exceptional but the workmanship was not, and after a couple more exchanges, I stopped calling them for service.
When we had a new tankless boiler installed at the old house, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling and got a bid from them. Their prices were neither the highest nor the lowest, but I went with another firm. The building inspector had to return to our house four times, because of several mistakes with the installation. Finally, it passed muster, both with the inspector and me but I was not impressed.
This time, I called Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling. The fact that they’d won the Virginia Pilot’s “Best of Hampton Roads’ Awards” for several years really impressed me. I was ready to pay a few dollars more, as long as I didn’t have to babysit the installer and call his boss twice a day and demand that big ugly problems be corrected.
To my delight and surprise, their price was very reasonable. We replaced both the furnace and air conditioner, and also had a hoity-toity whole-house air-cleaner installed. The house already smells fresher and cleaner.
Perhaps best of all, the men who showed up to do this work were the consummate professionals and showed a respect and thoughtfulness that I thought was long gone from today’s service industries. If I were their own dear mother, they couldn’t have treated me with more care and sincerity and thoroughness. I really was that pleased with their work ethic and their work model and their attention to detail.
The old air conditioning unit was removed Thursday morning and the new unit was in place and working by Thursday evening. They also installed a second return to provide adequate air flow for the new unit, and added filter grates to the old return and the new return.
The other thing that dazzled me was this: NO duct board, but all sheet metal, fabricated on site to meet our specific needs. And the fellow who did their sheet metal work was an artisan.
I’m a tough customer, but their work was exemplary and remarkable, and they left the house spotless and tidy. I highly recommend Norfolk Air Heating and Cooling. And the nicest part of all is knowing that there are still companies that take a profound sense of pride in their workmanship.
Check out the many photos below.
I stepped into the back yard to see how the guys were coming along, only to find the old unit removed and headed out to the front yard! I was pleased as punch to see four and five men working on this installation throughout the day, and they were all real workers!
Out with the old and in with the new. The old RUUD unit had a manufacture date of 1997 and a SEER of 10. Brandon explained to me that if it was not well maintained, the SEER could have actually dropped well below 10. Doesn't matter now, as this vintage compressor only cooled the house for about 10 days before it went to Compressor Heaven.
The coil they pulled out of the crawlspace was also in rough shape. It had been placed directly on the ground, and not surprisingly, had rusted out. It was quite a bit older than the compressor.
All piled up together, it really does look like a mess.
Inside the house, the old return was removed (in the center hallway) and the old duct was pulled out and replaced. The house was built in 1962 and had never had a filter, so the return duct was pretty dirty. Not surprising, after 49 years of sucking up household air.
As they were knocking the old metal ductwork loose in the attic (above), some of the dirt and dust was falling out of the old return. This photo was an attempt to catch it in "mid fall." The workers had placed a plastic tarp in the hallway to catch the falling dirt.
The only thing we knew about the old unit was that it was on its second blower motor and needed a third. The second blower had only lasted 23 months. Jaime from Norfolk Air saw that the return duct was too small, which might have caused the blower motor to fail prematurely. A return was added in the den, and the ductwork for both returns was replaced and enlarged.
In no time at all, the new unit was delivered. It was shiny and new and beautiful.
This was the only time when Teddy the Dog pined for the old house and its fine central air. She stared at this painting for much of the day, unnerved by all the beating and banging, occasioned by the installation of the new central air.
This was a glimpse inside the old return. This is a pretty deep layer of dust and dirt, and this went on for the full 30 length of ductwork.
The old furnace (manufacture date of 2001) was also kind of a mess. It was still functional, but old and inefficient (80 AFUE).
The process of disassembly begins.
It was kind of a mess.
Teddy waits anxiously, hoping to hear that we'll have those fresh, cold, magical breezes flowing from those wonderful sheltie-height boxes soon.
The new pieces and parts wait patiently on the curb.
The old is gone and the new is in place. And what a dandy new furnace it is. The AFUE is 95% and the chimney flue is no longer in use. In its place are plastic pipes; one for exhaust and one for fresh-air (for combustion).
And the new air conditioner compressor.
And voila! Cool, conditioned, cleaned air flows from the magical, wonderful Sheltie-height boxes.
That "Best of the Best" sticker is mighty good advertising!
As mentioned above, the quality of the work was first rate, and even though it was a surprise to have the old system die such a sudden death, the new system is shiny and new and clean. And I highly recommend Norfolk Air. They remained at our home Thursday night until 8:30 pm, to make sure we had a working air conditioner. Once the unit was fired up and working satisfactorily, they packed up and left for the night.
To contact Norfolk Air, call 963-8365.
* * *