Q- How do I know what size HVAC system I need?
A heat loss (winter) and gain (summer) analysis, commonly known as a “Manual J”, is the mathematical method for determining the BTU’s needed for a specific home in a specific climate. It is what engineers and professional contractors do on a daily basis to ensure comfort, safety, and efficiency.
Square footage and cubic footage are important, but insulation values, window quality, and air leakage rates are also a big part of the equation. The act of finishing a basement and insulating the walls can reduce the heat loss by 20% but have no significant affect on the air conditioning BTU’s.
Following the loss/gain calculation, there is more math to be done, as the BTU’s required to heat and cool require a specific amount or airflow to disperse the energy effectively. The ductwork is just as important as the heating & cooling equipment and should always be evaluated by a professional contractor prior to making an investment.
Q-When should I replace my furnace?
While the average life expectancy of a furnace is 15- 17 years, the best way to know when to replace your furnace comes during annual interactions with your HVAC Technician during the preventive maintenance, otherwise known as a tune-up or clean & check. A licensed certified hvac technician will be able to listen to your heating & cooling concerns, make suggestions & offer solutions, and assist in planning ahead with you to make your investment on a proactive basis, the best experience so there are no unexpected surprises or expensive surprises. You must have a relationship in place with a company you can trust to do this correctly.
Q- When should I replace my air conditioner?
The life expectancy of an air conditioner varies from climate to climate, the average age at replacement is 13 years. Your personal threshold for discomfort in sticky weather may cause you to replace your system every 10 years, or even when a major repair is needed. Medical conditions, empty or uncomfortable areas or your home, and a few other factors cause many home owners to add a supplemental ductless heating and cooling system and see how many years they can get out of their central cooling system.
Q- How much does it cost to replace a furnace and/or air conditioner?
The range can be anywhere from $6000 to $18,000 depending on a variety of factors. Fortunately, we all realize that we get what we pay for. A reputable contractor will have a relationship with a reputable financing company- most families pay for their 15 years systems over 24- 36 months without interest.
Factors like whether the property is owner occupied or leased, what kind of energy savings folks are looking for, whether or not they are staying there for more than 5 years, and even the need for higher air quality can all factor in to the total investment.
Keep in mind that the actual cost for the installation is going to be the same if you pick a $1500 unit or a $3000 unit, so consider your budget (including future energy savings) carefully and get the best unit you can afford. Installation of any unit requires several hundred dollars in related materials, highly skilled professionals, licenses/ taxes/ and insurances, vehicles, an office/shop facility, and the support of a trained staff. Companies that do not have these systems in place struggle to back their work when something fails under warranty.
Q- Why is my heater making strange noises?
Most heaters have two electric motors driving fans that can become restricted or out of balance due to dirt or airflow restrictions. The result is vibration that will produce noises wherever two surfaces are close enough to rub together. Continuous rattles, rumbles, squeaks, humming, (people use so many describing words for these) are going to need to be traced down, and the root problem corrected. Louder noise, such as booms, bangs, and anything that shakes the house is a very serious situation. Whenever you are in doubt, turn your heater off and call a professional contractor for help.
Q- Why is my AC system leaking water?
The primary function of an air conditioner is to remove sticky water from the air and put it into a drain. When sized correctly, the cooling affect is often secondary or incidental. Many times, the drain can become obstructed from dirt, especially if the air filtration system is poor.
The other reason an ac leaking can be more serious- ice! When refrigerant levels are low and/or airflow is restricted the AC coil by your furnace or air handler freezes. When this happens, water collects & turns to ice and grows larger than the drain system, then defrosts. This water can infiltrate dark places and grow mildew, or even affect electronic components, damaging your hvac system. Inspect carefully with the power off and good a flashlight to see where the water is starting from. Many times, a hand from a hvac pro can save you lots of frustration.
Q- What to check before you call an HVAC company
When your heating or cooling fail there may be something simple wrong. If you are comfortable checking a few things yourself, put on some working clothes, get something to kneel on, and grab your flashlight. The first thing to check is your air filter. Be sure it’s been changed recently & is free from dirt & debris. You can also check the thermostat & ensure there is power coming from the unit. Lastly, check the outside intake, a pvc pipe coming out of the house for venting. Ensure this is free of snow, ice, debris & any obstructions so air can flow properly from your hvac unit. Beyond that, it’s best to call a professional contractor to make sure your hvac equipment is operating properly & safely.
Q- How often should I replace my filter?
Air filters get dirtier faster the more they are used, a good rule of thumb is to inspect them once a month, even vacuuming off larger debris to make the filter last longer. Filters may need to be changed more often during extreme weather, and a clean filter is always a good idea going into the real heat of summer or the icy grip of winter. After all, keeping up on the air filter is the easiest way to prolong the life of your system and keep energy bills down.
Typically, 1” filters need to be replaced every month, regardless of what the packaging seems to say. Beware of the small words “up to” before the “3 months”. Spending more than $3 on a 1” thick filter usually means too much airflow restriction and trouble waiting to happen.
5” to 9” air filters typically last 6 months, and dramatically lessen the resistance to airflow. Owners like these because they never break down and are only in need of changing every 6 months once you have a brand-new air purifier installed.
Electronic Air Purifiers are a must for those with allergies and asthma. They provide an extremely high clean air delivery rate and lessen the environmental impact by keeping large paper filters out of landfills. They do require a monthly pre-filter cleaning, and a deep cleaning every 6 months.
Regardless of filter type, a “filter replacement” at each 6-month mark should be done with the power off, the blower compartment door removed, with a good light and vacuum on hand. This is the best time to inspect the inside of the furnace and also the return air duct (through the filter rack) for larger debris and even deceased critters. If you ever lose a family pet, remember to look in this same area, they often find their way into the ductwork.
Q- How often should I get my HVAC system serviced?
HVAC system service should be performed at the changing of the season from heating to cooling, and cooling to heating. Generally, two times per year will allow for faulty parts to be found prior to breaking. Air quality issues such as dust mites, dust, counter surface bacteria and fungus growth can be a great thing to discuss with your hvac technician. During regular maintenance it’s important to use this as an opportunity to discuss concerns and heating, cooling & air quality options & solutions. In the long run, preventive maintenance still provides the lowest cost of ownership over the life of a system.
Q- Is it necessary to service my AC every year?
Servicing the AC every year is the best way to stay ahead of any problems or major repairs. A malfunctioning system in extremely hot temperatures is not only uncomfortable but it is also unsafe. An annual tune up by a professional & licensed hvac contractor ensures your system is clean & is operating both efficiently & safely.
Q- How often should AC coils be cleaned?
AC coils should be cleaned every year during the spring/summer months to prevent any pricy repairs or problems. During an AC Cleaning a licensed hvac technician will check the coil for cleanliness, leaks & refrigerant levels. All gas & electrical components are inspected for safety & performance. Your technician will inspect & change your filters, but it is also important to regularly change your filter every month in between seasonal tune ups of your hvac system.
Q- What is the best time to buy an air conditioner?
It’s probably time to consider replacing your air conditioner if you are investing a lot of money into repairing it. It’s best to replace your air conditioner before the extreme temperatures arrive to ensure continued comfort & safety.
Q- How can I save money on my AC?
If you are purchasing a new AC be sure to request a few estimates from professionally licensed contractors. When comparing quotes take into consideration the following: 1. Research the HVAC Contractors reputation, skill & background 2. Study the reviews & quality of the manufacturer who makes the Equipment 3.Compare pricing & find the best balance between a qualified contractor & quality equipment. It’s not every day that you purchase an AC so think of the what you are actually receiving when making this investment. Don’t try to save money by doing it yourself or hiring a handyman or anything but a licensed professional hvac contractor, this will only cost you more money and will void your manufacturer warranty. Hiring a professional will save you money on your AC & will be sure to keep you cool & comfortable all summer long.
Q- How can I save money on my heating bill?
Getting annual maintenance or regular tune ups is the best way to ensure your heating system is running at peak efficiency. Making sure the system is clean & the filters are being changed regularly because this is an easy & inexpensive way to save money on your heating bill. If your heating system is over 10 years old or has needed frequent repairs it may be time to consider options for a new & high efficient furnace. High efficient furnaces may be a larger investment upfront; however you will see a significant reduction in your monthly heating bill.
Q- Do air conditioners need to be serviced?
For optimal performance air conditioners need to be serviced every year to ensure proper operation & efficiency. An AC tune up will include cleaning condenser coils, testing the refrigerant levels, inspecting the indoor blower motor & wheel & checking for leaks & debris. Neglecting annual maintenance could result in decreased performance & efficiency & can also lead to pricey repairs.
Q- Do split system air conditioners need servicing?
Yes, annual maintenance is strongly recommended for split system air conditioning systems. It’s important to keep the outside unit clean & clear of any debris. Changing the filters, cleaning the coil & condenser as well as checking all electrical components & refrigerant lines will ensure your system is operating at peak performance.
Q- What are split system air conditioners?
Split system air conditioners, or ductless systems allows you to create a comfortable indoor environment in spaces where adding ductwork might be impractical, inefficient or too expensive. High-quality, low cost wall-mounted units provide zoned comfort solutions. Split systems are the perfect solution for sun rooms, hot or cold rooms, media rooms, lofts, garages, basements, bonus rooms, offices, additions & any older homes without existing ductwork. Ductless heat pump systems pump cooled or heated refrigerant directly to air-handling units through small pipes. Each living space has its own air handling unit, and each unit has it’s own wireless electronic temperature controller.
Q- Should you turn your heating off in the summer?
Standard gas furnaces can be turned off during the summer simply by switch heat settings to cool settings on the thermostat. Some boiler systems are known to have a summer & winter mode setting on the thermostat or temperatures control. Turning the pilot light off on your heating system in order to decrease energy consumption & increase utility savings is a common myth & holds no truth.
Q- How are my furnace and AC connected?
Traditional HVAC systems are connected by ductwork, a coil, gas & refrigerant lines. The coil allows both cool & warm air to pass through your hvac system. Once the compressor starts to run it pushes refrigerant through the condenser fan & mixes with outdoor air which sends the air to the evaporator coil, then moves through the duct work at which point cold air is felt. It’s important that all 3 pieces of equipment are properly maintain & working to optimum capacity to ensure controlled temperature & maximum comfort as week as efficiency are achieved.
Q- How do I choose an HVAC contractor?
Doing your own research is the best thing you can do when trying to choose the right HVAC Contractor for you. Read customer Google Reviews, read about the company online. Check out the company’s website to see what services they perform & what equipment they service & install. Call the company directly & simply ask them why you should choose them. A reputable HVAC Company will be honest, upfront & transparent & should be able to answer all your questions & address your concerns over the phone. Be sure to confirm that they are certified, licensed, bonded & insured. Also make sure all the technicians wear uniforms, are drug screened, undergo background checks, & undergo continuous training. Researching all these things will ensure you are choosing the right HVAC contractor for you & your homes needs.
Q- What AC unit is best for my home?
It’s important to receive a quote from a professional, licensed HVAC Contractor to ensure proper & accurate measurements can be used to calculate the proper size AC Unit to install. It’s also best to consider how long you will be staying in your home. If you have no plans on moving in the near future you should make the initial investment on a high efficient AC unit so that you will benefit from the energy savings on a monthly basis. If you do not plan on staying in your home, or are trying to sell your house in the near future, you may want to go the less expensive route & go with a basic model since you will not be receiving the benefits of the initial investment of energy savings on a monthly basis.
Make sure to purchase a quality name brand like Trane products to allow peace & comfort knowing your AC has undergone rigorous testing & guarantees high quality performance & reliability. Installing a high end brand ensures you will not experience your unit breaking down or requiring expensive repairs in the near future. Going with a higher end brand also comes with great warranties from the manufacturer so in the event your unit does require a repair, your manufacturer will cover the parts warranty.
Q- How long do AC units last?
On average an AC unit that is properly maintained will last10-15 years. Neglecting to perform annual, routine maintenance tune-ups by a certified HVAC Contractor will significantly decrease the lifespan of the unit. Similar to getting regular maintenance & oil changes on a car, if you do not properly attend to it you will be sure to experiences the equipment will break down frequently which leads to expensive repairs.
Q- What type of furnace is best for my home?
A Trane High Efficient Model is always the best for your home in terms of efficiency & monthly savings. If you have plans to move in the near future & are not considered with the ongoing monthly energy savings, you many decide that a basic builders model is the right furnace for you. It is highly recommended that you receive an estimate (we recommend 1-3 estimates) from a professional, licensed Heating & Cooling Contractor. Make sure to invest in quality & name brands like Trane Heating & Cooling systems which provide both reliability & high quality. Trane furnaces go through extensive testing & come with amazing warranties so in the future if you do need any repairs your parts will most likely be covered by the manufacturer.
Q- How long do furnaces last?
A well maintained furnace will last 15-20 years. Failure to receive proper maintenance from a licensed & professional HVAC Contractor can not only void your Manufacturer Warranty, but it can also lead to a shorter lifespan & pricey repairs. It’s also important to receive annual tune-ups for safety reasons. Furnaces have both electrical & gas components both of which can be potentially dangerous & even life threatening if not properly inspected.