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Some Cool Savings : The Air Conditioning Exchange guides amateurs through the steps of installing a system while saving them big bucks.

June 18, 1993|GERI COOK

When it comes to an air-conditioning system for your home, the best way to save the most money is to install it yourself. Don't say you can't do it until you read on.

For 19 years, the people at the Air Conditioning Exchange have been guiding amateurs through the maze of ducts and vents, allowing homeowners to save half the price of an air-conditioning system.

If you buy a unit from Air Conditioning Exchange--whether from Carrier, York, Tempstar, Coleman or Rheem, all of which are discounted 30% to 40% off manufacturers' list prices--the air-conditioning experts there will do as little or as much as you want.

If you have existing equipment, write down the specifications so that it can be matched. If there is no equipment in place, then visit the showroom with a blueprint or sketch of your floor plan. There, factory-trained personnel will help you select the brand and type that will best suit your needs. And with a deposit to hold equipment, Air Conditioning Exchange will lay out your duct-work system if necessary, and prepare it and other materials for pickup, usually within one or two days.

Following the explicit plan they have worked out, you can install your own system. If you have a problem, technicians are available by phone to answer questions.

For the amateur handyman or woman, the average time to complete the job is about one week. If you can't finish it, their installers will do it for you. But keep in mind that the biggest saving is in the labor, and that the more you do yourself, the more bucks you save.

Owner Sam Israel says that over the years, he can remember only a few people who didn't finish the job. Recently, he says, a 69-year-old woman and a man of 84 both completed installations. "Anyone who is the least bit handy can do it," Israel said.

Once the installation is complete, it's time for a start-up service call, required by manufacturers to validate the warranty. At Air Conditioning Exchange, the charge for start-up calls is $48 an hour. For package units, it usually takes an hour; for split systems, figure two to four hours.

Israel and his wife, Audrey, have owned and operated Air Conditioning Exchange since 1974. They developed the do-it-yourself concept on the principle that "customers who install their own systems will not only save a substantial sum of money, but also will have the satisfaction of knowing that the job is done right, using the finest equipment and supplies available," Sam Israel said.

For an area of about 1,200 square feet, expect to pay $2,500 to $3,500 for equipment, the floor plan, supplies (duct work, tubing, thermostats, etc.) and assistance. If you've received estimates from complete-service dealers, you know that this represents about a 50% savings.

Where to Shop

What: The Air Conditioning Exchange Inc.

Location: 6900 San Fernando Road, Glendale.

Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa.

Call: (818) 845-8544.

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