Frequently Asked Questions
HVAC- heating, ventilation, and air conditioning- It is a system that provides
different types of heating and cooling services to residential and commercial buildings. Its function is to provide thermal comfort, humidity control and acceptable indoor air quality.
The majority of home and smaller commercial air conditioning systems
circulate a compressed gas refrigerant in a closed “split” system to cool and condition inside air. The refrigerant has to be re-cooled and condensed, and outside air is the medium most often used to accomplish this. The term “split” simply means that components are divided into inside and outside portions as opposed to being located together in a “package” unit.
The refrigerants, widely recognized by the trademark “freon” (which is a registered trademark of the DuPont company for refrigerants), helps cool and dehumidify the inside air. In a “forced air” system, an internal blower circulates the conditioned air through ducts to the rooms where the cooler air is needed. The air ducts generally run either below the ceiling and inside the rooms (conditioned air) or in the attic (unconditioned air). An outside fan pulls air across the external parts of the system to cool and condense the refrigerant.
ENERGY STAR is a program that was created by the US Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to help businesses and individuals make energy efficient purchases.
This program places the ENERGY STAR label, a small blue and white logo, on items that meet superior energy efficiency standards. This label provides an easy way for consumers to identify quality, high-efficiency products.
Air conditioning is a matured technology so most of the popular brands work
well. Many of them use parts made by the same manufacturers. So, the main considerations are the price, warranty, attractiveness, noise, etc. Some manufacturers offer anywhere from a 10-12 year warranty on all parts while others offer only 1 year.
Whatever you decide, the most important consideration is the contractor you use. For your protection, make sure you use a licensed contractor for your installation. A licensed contractor using best refrigerant practices and procedures can save you time and money! You may buy the best system in the world but if it is not properly installed, you will actually be buying nothing but a big headache for years to come.
A heat pump is an all-in-one heating and air conditioning system that works year-round to keep you comfortable.
During warmer months, a heat pump works as a normal air conditioner. It extracts heat from inside the home and transfers it to the outdoor air. In colder weather, however, the process reverses—the unit collects heat from the outdoor air and transferring it inside your home.
Even when the air outside feels extremely cold, the air still contains some heat. The heat pump pulls the heat from this cold outdoor air and sends it inside to warm your home. When there’s not enough heat in the outside air to meet the demand of the thermostat setting, an electric heater supplements the outdoor air to warm the home. Extremely efficient, this process produces two to three times more heat than the energy it uses.
Also, a heat pump can be an effective add-on option to use in conjunction with an existing gas furnace. With this dual-fuel option, the two systems share the heating load, but never function at the same time. Each system operates when it is most cost effective. The heat pump will be the primary heating and cooling system. However, when the temperature drops below the heat pump’s ability to operate as efficiently as the gas furnace, the gas furnace will take over until the temperature rises enough for the heat pump to operate more efficiently.
The benefits of air conditioning are to give a comfortable environment at work or at home throughout the seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
An Air Conditioning unit can have two functions – heating/cooling and humidity control. With an auto changeover switch on most new units, you set the temperature and the unit will cool or heat as required automatically.
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, this unit of measure is used to measure cooling or heating capacity; 1 BTU is the amount of heat required to raise (or lower) the temperature of 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. There are 12,000 BTU’s in 1 Ton of Cooling.
There are five main questions that need to be considered when deciding to
either replace or repair your heating and cooling system:
- How old is your system? If your system is more than ten years old, it may be wiser to invest in new, higher efficiency equipment, which could cut your energy costs by up to 40%.
- What is the efficiency level of your current system?
- What was the efficiency when the system was new? Unfortunately, replacing parts of your old system will not improve the efficiency. If the energy savings of using a higher efficiency system will cover all or part of the cost of investing in new equipment, you should seriously consider replacement of the old system.
- What is the overall condition of your system? If your system is in solid condition, it could be wiser to simply repair it. But if your system breaks down often, you should consider replacing it. Consider the 50% Rule.
- The 50% Rule- If the cost of repair vs. replacement of your system is less than half of its value and you haven’t been suffering the financial burden of frequent service calls to keep your system up and running, repair may be easier on your checkbook . Ask your technician to calculate the efficiency and energy usage of your system to help make a determination.
A ductless mini split system is composed of an indoor air handler/evaporator
(fan coil), and outdoor condensing unit and an approximate 2.5-3″ conduit that accommodates the power (wiring), refrigerant line sets and a PVC condensate line (drain). s an indoor fan, referred to as the head, and an outdoor compressor unit. Many styles of air handler/evaporator (fan coil) are readily available depending upon your projects needs. Ductless units can be either 1:1 Single mini-split systems or Multi-split systems that can heat/cool multiple rooms.
Ductless split systems can replace a traditional central ducted system or be
used in addition to a central ducted system. It works in much the same way as a traditional air conditioner or heat pump, using an outdoor condensing unit, indoor air handler/evaporator (fan coil) with an outdoor condenser, attached to refrigerant line sets and a condensate drain line.
The condenser is installed outside the home or business typically on a code approved surface. The conduit is then run from the outdoor unit to the individual room within the structure that you choose, even an attic or garage. Depending upon the system design, the use of wall-mounted interior units, ceiling mounted units, recessed fa coils, floor mounted air handlers are then installed and secured in the appropriately desired spaces to control cooling, heating and humidity as needed and designed.
One or a series of indoor units and refrigeration lines are used to transfer the cooled air from the outdoor condenser to the indoor units of your choice. It works in reverse with heated air in the winter. Units can be placed in any rooms you like and because each unit is individual, you control the specific temperature in that room instead of needing to set one thermostat for the entire house. As a result, you save money by cooling or heating only the space you are using. One of its greatest advantages is TRUE ZONING!
Installation of a ductless mini split air conditioner is more complicated than a
window unit but far less complicated than installing a central air conditioner. But, don’t let that fool you. Ductless systems are very sensitive pieces of equipment and are quite unforgiving when mistakes are made. Small mistakes lead to HUGE problems with ductless systems. It is always best to have any AC system installed by licensed, trained professionals. Homeowner installations and using unlicensed individuals most often will void the manufacturer warranty on your new investment. Call us for a certified installation with one of our manufacturer trained technicians – we will make sure that the installation was done correctly. We will evacuate, pressure test, perform a thorough vacuum and charge with your system with refrigerant as needed for your particular installation followed by start up and commissioning reports on your system.
In general, the sound generated by a ductless air handler (sometimes referred
to as a head) is equivalent to whispering in a library (between 21 and 30 decibels). The sound from an outdoor unit is more like normal conversation (60 decibels) but is less than a conventional air conditioning condenser.
Fuses and circuit breakers should not blow or trip. Check the breaker in your electrical service panel to identify which areas in your home/office the tripped breaker supplies service to. Check to see if the breaker feels warm to the touch. (NEVER touch wires or wire connections in your service panel. High voltage is present) Breakers should not be warm or hot to the touch. In the event the breaker is warm/hot to the touch, this could possibly be an indicator of a weak breaker. Contact a licensed electrician. Should the breaker feel ok to the touch, you could try to reset the breaker or replace the fuse. If the breaker or fuse trips/blows again, you will need to contact a licensed AC contractor like ourselves to diagnose the problem safely and correctly. There could possibly be an issue with a loose electrical wire, the unit could have shorted to ground, or the compressor could have failed. Electricity is nothing to play with- ALWAYS use a licensed electrician or AC contractor as indicated.
First, disconnect any additional devices that may have caused the breaker to
overload and trip. Breakers are mechanical devices and must be turned all the way off before turning back on. Remember this is a mechanical device, so this may require several attempts. If this fails to reset the breaker, or the breaker feels “Sloppy” when resetting, there may be a more serious problem. Call a licensed electrician.
Yes. This is a common occurrence when large motor/compressor loads start.
These devices cause a minor momentary voltage drop, demonstrating itself as the blinking in your lights. This has no negative effect on the electrical equipment within your house.
This could mean one of two things.
- An intermittent chirp is probably an indication of a defective smoke detector.
- A consistent chirp is probably an indication of a low battery condition and the smoke detector requires a new battery.
Furnaces are rated by the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) ratio,
which is the percent of heat produced for every dollar of fuel consumed,or how efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy. Its AFUE rating is measured as a percentage.
Like the miles-per-gallon rating on your automobile, the higher the AFUE rating, the lower your fuel costs. An AFUE of 90% means that 90% of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 10% escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. According to the EPA- AFUE doesn’t include the heat losses of the duct system or piping, which can be as much as 35% of the energy for output of the furnace when ducts are located in the attic, garage, or other partially conditioned or unconditioned space. All furnaces manufactured today must meet at least 80% AFUE in the south and 90% AFUE in the North. If your furnace is 10 – 15 years old, it very well may fall below the current furnace minimum and waste energy- costing you money.
There are a few obvious signals that let you know when it’s time to upgrade
your heating system. Frequent repairs, recent spikes in utility bills, and inconsistent temperatures in the home are a few warning signs that it’s time for a new heater. But if you’ve had the same heating system for twenty years or more, it would be a good idea to talk to an HVAC contractor about having it inspected to determine if it’s time for a heater replacement. Even if your old heater has worked without problems for years, a professional heating technician is trained to detect any possible operation or safety issues that are a direct indication that the system needs to be replaced. If you are concerned about your heating costs, you should talk to a heating professional about other options. Call us now to schedule your system’s check up!
When shopping for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers, look for the ENERGY STAR® label. If you live in a cold climate, it usually makes sense to invest in the highest-efficiency system. In milder climates with lower annual heating costs, the extra investment required to go from 80% to 90% to 95% efficiency may be hard to justify.
This doesn’t mean that you should only select a furnace based on its AFUE rating. The efficiency rating is just one factor to consider when looking for a new furnace.
Two-stage heating means the furnace has two levels of heat output: high for
cold winter days and low for milder days. Since the low setting is adequate to meet household heating demands 80% of the time, a two-stage unit runs for longer periods and provides more even heat distribution.
Furnace technology has advanced significantly in recent years. Modern furnaces are designed to provide more even and efficient heating than past furnaces, which can impact both how your system operates, sounds and what you notice about your system.
To better regulate temperatures and airflow, modern furnaces move more air over the heat exchanger than older furnaces.
The air that comes out of your furnace registers may not seem as warm as the air from your old furnace, but overall airflow is improved. Better airflow means higher comfort.
Also, new furnaces are designed to integrate with high-efficiency air conditioners, so furnace blowers are more powerful to accommodate add-on cooling. Since cold air is much heavier than warm air, your system needs an extra boost from the blower to deliver cool air throughout your home. If you have an older home, this performance boost could produce unfamiliar sounds because air duct systems were originally designed for heating only. To minimize sound levels, choose a variable speed product which automatically changes speeds to meet the airflow needs of both heating and cooling cycles.
You may not find the filter in your home or business to be very important, but you should!
There are actually 3 ways air can get filtered-
1) through your AC filter,
2) it will get filtered through the AC coil and
3) it will get filtered again through YOURS and YOUR FAMILY’S lungs!
Furnace manufacturers put inexpensive fiberglass filters into their furnaces to remove airborne particles that might damage the fan and the heating coil. Particle buildup can also decrease the efficiency of your furnace, as the furnace has to work harder to pull air through the return.
More expensive filters can also improve the air quality in your house by removing pollen, bacteria and mold spores from the air. Don’t let YOUR lungs be the filter for your air conditioner! Use the maximum efficiency filter designed for your system.This is especially important if you or someone in your family suffers from allergies or respiratory illnesses. If you do not know which filter that may be, then just ask us, we will be glad to point you in the right direction!
Check the documentation that came with your furnace for filter size information. Consult with our factory trained technicians regarding the efficiency of the filter needed and whether that efficiency is compatible with your furnace’s unit. Too high an efficiency, in some models, can cause too high of a static pressure for the motor and can cause premature motor failure.
Generally you can buy your filter from any source. Check with a filter vendor or the documentation that came with your furnace to be sure. However, ductless filters currently are O.E.M. (original equipment manufacturer) parts and are not available generically.
Filter efficiency refers to the percentage of airborne particles that the filter removes. This is different from the fuel efficiency of your furnace (commonly measured as the AFUE). You can choose either a high-efficiency or a low-efficiency filter for your highly fuel efficient furnace. (Note, however, that