Pittsburgh Air Conditioning and Heating: Service, Repair, and Equipment Contractors
This page provides resources and information about A/C and heating service, repair, maintenance, and installers for metro Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This information includes several HVAC contractors plus a link to our free and handy printable grid to compare price quotes. Here you will also find sources of energy efficiency and equipment rebates, the ratio of hours of cooling and heating needed each year, schools and more useful info.
About HVAC contractors
The contractor you choose will make a big impact on your satisfaction and purchase of a new air conditioning and heating system. Why? They determine the size and type of equipment for your situation and they control the quality of the installation. If you have not yet seen them, in the navigation menu on top of this page you will find quick tips and expanded topics on two essential topics: how to select the right HVAC contractor and how to buy a new heating and cooling system.
Due to having relationships with equipment distributors or ownership by a manufacturer, some air conditioning and heating contractors install a limited number of equipment brands. Many independents have a brand they prefer or for which they are dealers, but will order and install any brand of new equipment you prefer. However, most all the contractors repair and maintain any make of central heating, furnace and air conditioner.
In addition to heating and cooling for indoor comfort and energy savings, an increasing number of HVAC companies perform air quality work such as air filters, dehumidifiers and humidifiers, ventilation and prevention of toxic carbon monoxide gas from your furnace. However, not all of these perform energy efficiency improvements to houses or buildings, such as the addition of solar screens or radiant barriers. If the service company you select does not perform conservation improvements on homes or buildings, they should be able to recommend another Pittsburgh area company that does.
How to compare air conditioning and heating equipment price quotes
Air conditioning and heating systems are made of components or units, and these can be interchanged to yield many possible combinations of performance and efficiency. Additionally, based on the particular situation in your home or building, these components must be chosen and installed to accommodate them. For these reasons, comparing proposals, features, and prices can be more than confusing.
To help you sort through your options, use our free and printer-friendly cost comparison organizer found in the navigation on the top of this page. If you get multiple price quotes, it will save you a lot of time and headaches. This grid allows you to compare the essential features from contractor bids including: main components; equipment efficiency in SEER and AFUE; manufacturer’s and installer’s warranties; and equipment brand.
How the climate in Pittsburgh affects your HVAC needs and decisions
The local climate always affects heating and cooling loads and the payback period when comparing the efficiency ratings of different air conditioners, furnaces or heaters. On the heating and cooling map of the U.S. with 5 zones, the Pittsburgh area resides in cooling zone 2 and heating zone 2. These require approximately 935 cooling hours and 3784 heating degree-days per year. As a relative comparison, the average Pittsburgh home would need 4 times more heating than air conditioning over a calendar year. Differences in elevation, large bodies of water or other topographical features can cause microclimates, so be sure to rely on actual measurements from your heating and A-C contractor.
For its latitude and inland location, the climate here has more moderate characteristics than might be expected. The average highs in the hottest months, July and August are in the low 80s Fahrenheit. The coldest two months, January and February, have average lows around 20 degrees. Of course, there are temperature spikes and valleys well outside these averages. Plus, humidity compounds the effects of these averages on your comfort. Another notable feature: according to this list of cloudiest U.S. cities, Pittsburgh ranks number 4 in cities over population of 1 million. This affects how quickly building interiors warm up from solar gain in both winter and summer. There are days, especially in the spring and fall, in which heating or cooling may not be needed. However, to achieve indoor comfort, a dehumidifier, whole house air filter or fresh air ventilation could make a huge difference.
Pollen, allergies and air filters in Pittsburgh
In Pittsburgh residential or building air filters are a necessity for health reasons to some occupants. Certain western Pennsylvania plants influence what type of air filter you and your A/C system need. Some notable examples include the elm, maple, and cottonwood family of trees. As for much of the U.S. ragweed brings late summer effects along with other types of molds, grasses and allergens throughout the year. The daily pollen count and allergy forecast for the city and southwest Pennsylvania can be found here.
Local utility and conservation providers
For Pennsylvania, the DSIRE database lists energy efficiency rebates and incentives from several sources. Another source is the Governor’s Green Government Council GGGC website. Generally, such incentive programs tend to come and go based on funding. In many cases, your A/C and heating contractor can coordinate all available energy conservation and rebate programs, from federal tax credits to state or local rebates and incentives.
The availability of a primary fuels such as heating oil or natural gas can determine which type of central heater will deliver the most comfort and lower utility bills. Since heating oil and natural gas are generally available here, many homes and buildings have boilers or central furnaces rather than heat pumps. If natural gas prices climb faster than electricity rates, this trend might change. In situations where a heat pump makes the best choice, some of the factors that affect air source heat pumps include the average daily temperature, fluctuations in temperature (cloudiness plays a part here), and humidity. Other local conditions, such as rocky outcrops located near the surface, can deter the installation of ground source heat pumps.
How a whole house approach includes the “envelope” in the load calculation
If you plan to get price quotes to buy a new A/C and heating system, look for an installation company who will insert the heating and cooling demands of the Pittsburgh climate along with the size and condition of your structure’s “envelope” into a complex, but critical load calculation. A rule-of-thumb load calculation based only on square footage or using the same size system as the old one without verification should clearly be avoided. This calculation requires extensive training, experience and calculations.
Resources for HVAC technical or vocational training in the Pittsburgh area
To learn more or get involved in the technical side of air conditioning and heating in the greater Pittsburgh area, such as schools or courses to get a Pennsylvania HVAC license, here are some city and regional association and education links:
ASHRAE Pittsburgh Chapter: City Chapter of The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
Pennsylvania Chapter of ACCA: Regional branch of the Air Conditioning Contractors Association of America.
Forbes Road Career and Technical Center
607 Beatty Rd.
Monroeville, PA 15146