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Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Our FAQ page is here to educate and inform you about frequently asked HVAC questions.

Why should I replace my existing heating or air conditioning system?
You may want to consider replacing your HVAC system if it’s old, inefficient, or in need of repair. Today’s systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the actual or realized efficiency of the system. If you are concerned about utility bills or are faced with an expensive repair, you may want to consider replacing your system rather than enduring another costly season or paying to replace an expensive component. The utility cost savings of a new unit may provide an attractive return on your investment. If you plan on financing the purchase, the monthly savings on your utility bill should be considered when determining the actual monthly cost of replacing a system. The offsetting savings may permit you to purchase a more efficient system.

How expensive are air conditioning and heat pump systems?
Many factors affect the cost of a heating or air conditioning system, including the size of your home, the type and condition of the ductwork installed and accessories you might need such as a thermostat or an electronic air cleaner. We’ll be happy to help you find the right system to meet not only your comfort needs but also your household budget.

What is involved in installing a new system?
If a system is being installed in the home for the first time, most of the items noted in the previous question and answer may be required to install the new system. Besides the equipment, the most significant component is ductwork. The ductwork can be made of either metal or fiberglass. The ductwork needs to be properly sized to deliver the right amount of air to each room. The ductwork consists of supply and return ductwork. The supply duct is attached to the outlet of the furnace or air handler and delivers air to individual zones in your home. We’ll determine the size of the ductwork by going into a space by the amount of air that needs to be delivered to the space.

How long can I expect a new system to last?
If you have a qualified technician perform regular preventative maintenance and service, industry averages suggest that an air conditioner should last 12-15 years. A gas furnace should last as many as 20-25 years.

What kind of preventative maintenance can be done?
With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps and oil-fired furnaces and boilers need annual maintenance to keep them working at their best. Gas-fired equipment, on the other hand, burns cleaner and can be serviced every other year. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires.

In furnace (forced-air) and boiler (hot-water) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers or valves, blower or pump, registers or radiators, the fuel line, and the gas meter or oil tank. It should also include every part of the furnace or boiler itself. Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent buildup from affecting the operation of the unit. For the burner, efficiency hinges on adjusting the flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas, or changing the fuel filter in an oil-fired system. A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils, and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned and the refrigerant pressure should be checked.

What is 2 stage cooling?
If you are looking for energy efficiency and extra comfort in an air conditioning system, try one with two-stage cooling. Two-stage cooling allows the air conditioner’s compressor to run at high or low levels. High is the blast of cold air you need on very hot days. Low works fine for milder days. Your air conditioning likely will run on the low setting most days, saving energy and yielding greater savings than standard compressors. As more Americans move to year-round central air, two-stage cooling offers choice in comfort.

What should I do about rooms that seem uncomfortable?
If one or two rooms are unusually hot or cold in your home, you may need an HVAC contractor to identify the problem. The contractor can do an in-home evaluation and will use diagnostic equipment to understand what’s going on. Here are questions to ask the contractor who reviews your heating and cooling system:

  1. Is the heating and cooling system operating properly?
  2. Are the ducts well sealed?
  3. Is air being distributed throughout the house?
  4. Are there areas of high humidity or moisture buildup?
  5. Does the home’s insulation seem adequate?

A variety of problems can cause certain rooms in your house to overheat or get too cold. That’s why it’s a good idea to call a specialist. Your HVAC system may need repairs or your home may have inadequate insulation. The contractor should check every room, from the basement to the attic to find the root of the problem.

Why should I purchase an HVAC annual maintenance agreement and what does it include?
Ask your heating and air conditioning contractor to check your system annually. It’s a good idea to schedule an appointment in the spring or fall, ahead of peak seasons for running your heat and air. Summers and winters also are peak times for HVAC contractors to work, and their schedules fill fast. The following is a thorough list for an HVAC annual maintenance checkup:

  • Check thermostat settings.
  • Review electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors.
  • Lubricate all moving parts.
  • Check and clean the drain.
  • Make sure the system starts and shuts off properly.
  • Clean air conditioning coils.
  • Check and refresh refrigerant levels.
  • Clean blower parts.
  • Check all gas (or oil) connections.
  • Clean or change air filters.

Are there different types of gas furnaces to choose from?
You’ve made the decision to buy a new furnace, and your choice for fuel is gas. The next step is to choose between two efficiency types of gas furnace—power combustion or condensing furnaces. Power combustion furnaces have an AFUE, or efficiency rating, of roughly 80 percent. Condensing furnaces perform better, with an AFUE of 90 percent or more. Condensing furnaces usually operate best in colder climates. Another advantage of condensing furnaces is they aren’t damaged by corrosion. The furnace exhausts through a plastic pipe to the outside and not through the chimney.

How is furnace efficiency measured?
When choosing a new furnace, find out its “AFUE” – annual fuel utilization efficiency. It’s a term for describing a furnace’s seasonal energy performance. Why should you care about the AFUE? Given the rise in energy prices and uncertainty about future energy sources, your priority should be lower energy bills. High-efficiency appliances use less energy, lowering your costs. By federal standards, new furnaces must have an AFUE rating of 78 percent.

How does variable speed heating work?
Variable-speed heating is a common-sense approach to saving energy and money. It allows you to better control the airflow and costs of your heating system. Here’s how it works: “Variable speed” is a technical term that refers to how a furnace’s indoor blower motor runs. When it can operate at different—or variable—speeds, you can better control airflow in your home. Better control increases your comfort and reduces heating bills. Variable speed motors use less electricity than standard one-speed motors.

How important is the size of my air conditioner?
Size matters when choosing a central air conditioner. The system’s size determines how well it will cool your square footage. You’ll need to work with your dealer or HVAC contractor to choose the size to meet the cooling demands of your home. If you buy one that’s too large, it will drive up the purchase cost, cycle on and off too frequently, and decrease efficiency. An undersized unit won’t cool adequately, especially on very hot days. Before your new cooling system is installed, your technician will do a thorough analysis of the cooling needs of your home. Make sure that a recognized sizing method is used to calculate your home’s “cooling load capacity” and not just a hunch or estimation.

What is a SEER Rating?
Before you buy a new air conditioner, you need to learn some of the industry language. It will help you find an efficient model that doesn’t waste energy and saves money on monthly utility bills. Look for the SEER rating on new air conditioners. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the rating, the more efficiently the air conditioner operates. The federal government requires a minimum SEER of 13 out of a maximum rating of 20. Why does the government set standards? Higher-efficiency air conditioners save energy and cause less pollution. Consumers also save money on electric bills. Well-designed new air conditioners are up to 70 percent more efficient than the current average. This can yield significant savings for consumers over the service life of their air conditioner.

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